Invite a UN speaker to your next district event
Ramu Damodaran, a deputy director of the UN's Department of Public Information, addresses a Rotary club in Oregon, USA, as part of The United Nations-Rotary Outreach Programme. Photo courtesy of Hyla Lipson
More than a dozen United Nations specialists have visited Rotary clubs and districts across the United States, speaking to Rotarians about how the two organizations can help each other with their parallel global development goals.
The visits are part of the United Nations-Rotary Outreach Programme, a speakers bureau developed in 2008. The program allows UN specialists to present timely and relevant information from their respective fields to Rotary club, district, and zone events.
These briefings address key humanitarian and global issues, including the UN Millennium Development Goals, peace-building, security, economic development, human rights, and the plight of refugees.
"Rotary is the United Nations' antenna to the mainland of America," says Ramu Damodaran, a deputy director of the UN's Department of Public Information. "This program is trying to build a connection between what is happening on a global level at the UN and concerned citizens in local communities."
During one week in August 2008, Damodaran spoke to 12 clubs in Oregon about global security and the UN's development agenda.
"The beauty of this program is the dynamic -- that the UN is sharing what we are doing but also listening to Rotarians on what we should be doing," says Damodaran. "There is no comparison to the level of involvement and reach Rotary has. This has a lot to do with its relationship with the UN."
After learning about the speakers bureau, David Zembiec, a member of the Rotary Club of Watertown, New York, arranged for UN sustainable energy and policy adviser Andrew Yager to visit his club. Yager shared his insights on how to incorporate alternative approaches and new technologies into local and regional economic development strategies.
"By getting a speaker of such a high caliber, it makes the event more significant and brings much more attention to the topic," says Zembiec. "The speakers bureau brings a broader national and international understanding of humanitarian issues. Rotarians can then use what the speaker said and make it relevant on a local level."
While the UN's information department handles speakers' logistical arrangements, the host club or district is responsible for their travel and overnight accommodations.
An audience of more than 100 attendees is required. Sessions, moderated by a Rotarian, can be open to non-Rotarians, including business leaders, government officials, academics, media representatives, and professionals. To optimize the speaker's visit to the area, clubs and districts are encouraged to arrange interviews with local media and lectures at high schools or colleges.
"This is a program I can see clubs and districts getting excited about," says Deanna Rhodes, a member of the Rotary Club of League City, Texas, who arranged for a UN specialist to speak at a district event. "Bringing in a UN official to talk at a district or zone conference would be a huge asset to the event."
Interested clubs and districts should contact the UN Department of Public Information and provide the following:
- Name and address of group requesting the UN speaker
- Name, phone number, and e-mail address of contact person
- UN-related topics of interest, in order of preference
- Date and time of event and alternate date, if available
- Dates the speaker would spend in the area
Send the information to:
Group Programmes Unit
UN Department of Public Information
Attn: Vivian Bernstein and Lilli Schindler
United Nations Secretariat
New York, NY 10017