Reflections on 2018

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It is tempting when looking back over the last year to feel concerned, fear or despair about the state of global politics – Brexit, the fight against climate change, international cooperation. All issues where progress appears to have stalled in 2018 and where the future is uncertain. Whatever your political persuasion, as we reflect on 2018, it is without doubt that we are experiencing far-reaching change on a global scale, and it seems likely that 2019 will hold further unpredictability and continued political, social and economic turbulence. 

What we try to do is enable our clients to communicate clearly and effectively in this challenging landscape, and to tackle major global issues despite the instability that prevails around us. Our UN-commended Global Contribution Award at the International Public Relations Associations Awards for our work following Hurricane Irma demonstrated the impact that targeted and strategic communications can have. 

 Our high-impact media strategy and public affairs campaign enabled us to leverage the plight of Anguillans left desolate in the wake of Hurricane Irma and exert pressure on the UK government to fulfil their responsibility to protect its citizens in Overseas British Territories. Funds committed to Anguilla by the British government resultantly rose from zero to £52 million in just four days.

Effective communications is an incredibly powerful tool to deliver social change. The unprecedented achievements of the Namibian government, supported by another of our clients DAPP Namibia, in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic was recently featured by the BBC, and is testament to what people, organisations, governments and whole nations can achieve when they work together towards a clear goal. Facing one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, Namibia has become the first country in Africa to exceed some of the 90-90-90 targets set by UNAIDS in 2014. 

As the year draws to a close the juxtaposition between the strides we have made in global development and the sheer challenges that we face as a society are laid bare. We have seen progress in gender equality in numerous African nations, steps taken in talks towards ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and increasing acknowledgment from the international community that more must be done to support developing countries who find themselves on the frontline of climate change. Yet maternal and child mortality rates remain persistently high across Africa and governments lack the tools to reverse the trends. The sexual abuse scandal has sown distrust and cynicism into the international aid community and the international institutions that have brought us the longest period of peace and prosperity since the post-war era are under attack by populist leaders. 

It is incumbent that in 2019 we continue to work against the forces that drive exclusion and isolationism. We must put forward more effectively our case for inclusivity, liberalism and the rules-based world order, and herein lies the power of communications. 

The year ahead presents vast opportunities for the African continent: Nigeria, Botswana and Malawi show promise of achieving democratic transitions of power in 2019 and the continent has the youngest population with over 40% of its people below the age of 15, with a GDP projected to grow at 3.9% annually until 2022. Africa’s potential is undeniable and there is reason to look forward to what 2019 holds. 

 We wish you all a great Christmas season and we look forward to continuing to work together to build a more progressive world with you in 2019. 

Sophie Campbell