UN Refugee Agency among four winners of Geneva Engage Awards

UNHCR is one of the Geneva Engage Awards. Here, UNHCR staff assess the needs of forcibly displaced people in Busumba village after they fled Pinga in North Kivu province, October 2020. © UNHCR/Francine Mutabataba

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was named one of the four winners of the 6th Annual Geneva Engage Awards on Thursday for its social media outreach efforts and in communicating their work from within international Geneva.

The awards, presented by the Geneva-based non-governmental organisation, DiploFoundation, traditionally recognise International Geneva actors in their social media outreach and online engagement, examining links between Geneva and communities from around the world that are affected by the policies discussed and negotiated in Geneva in areas such as development, human rights, digital and similar issues.

Four categories were honoured yesterday : International Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and Associations, Permanent Representations to the United Nations in Geneva and online meetings. An opportunity to also recognise the importance of International Geneva representatives and their work.

The winners. The Permanent Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations Office in Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the New Humanitarian received the 6th Geneva Engage awards in the three main categories.

The fourth award was introduced last year, before the outbreak of the pandemic. The idea is to recognise innovative and effective approaches to conduct remote meetings.

DiploFoundation project manager Marco Lotti explains :

“With all the effort and the study that we may have done, no one could have predicted how central and crucial the pandemic was. have made online meetings of remote participation.”

Although many organisations in Geneva have outdone themselves to move online, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stands out, having undertaken extra steps by creating an open source based platform for online meetings.

The methodology. The Geneva Engage Awards are based on a thorough data collection and analysis methodology carried out by DiploFoundation. The goal is to capture effectively and actually the engagement and outreach of International Geneva actors. The analysed parameters are divided into three categories:

  • multiplatform activity: number of followers and posts on Facebook and Instagram, also reflected on other users’ posts.

  • active and effective engagement: retweeting and replying to content, and measuring its effectiveness

  • growth: the gain of followers on Twitter and Facebook during the year.

The calculation for the awards rests upon a large amount of values, that can range from 19 to 140’000 tweets in a month for example. A challenge in terms of normalisation and comparison of data that helped define the evaluation methodology developed by the diploFoundation teams.

An opportunity. The Geneva Engage Awards not only recognise efforts made by organisations to engage the world in policies discussed in Geneva. They also highlight the importance of social media in the process. As the Deputy Secretary General at the Canton of Geneva Chancellary, Thomas Dayer, concludes:

“Social media can foster the understanding of what international Geneva engages for: multilateralism and cooperation, negotiation and mediation, human rights and international law. Opening and maintaining channels is what counts so that the voices of all, including the most vulnerable are being heard. In promoting a better use of digital communication, Geneva Engage shows that social media are not only a challenge, but also a wonderful opportunity.”