IIED's best of 2019: videos

Video continues to be a powerful and engaging way to communicate sustainable development issues. We uploaded more than 60 videos to our YouTube channel during 2019, ranging from animations and interviews with our experts, to speeches and webinars. Matt Wright showcases 10 ways video helped us deliver research and information.

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Matt Wright
Matt Wright is web planning and content manager in IIED's Communications Group
06 January 2020


The sum of its parts can be as useful as the whole

The video of which we are most proud of in 2019 was not produced for IIED, rather it was created as part of the support we give to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group of the UNFCCC. Launched at the 2019 Climate Action Summit in New York, the LDC 2050 Vision is the LDCs’ long-term strategy for climate resilience and net zero emissions by 2050.

In the video Tenzin Wangmo, the lead negotiator for the LDC Group, sets out the key points of the 2050 vision, such as channelling 70% of climate funding to drive local-level action, holistic climate change planning from the local to the national level, and ensuring climate solutions are centred on gender and social justice.

We designed the film with a series of animated elements, which could be extracted and used separately in posts on social media.


Informing decision makers

How a new global treaty – the first of its kind – could end lawlessness that threatens conservation of the high seas might not sound like the ideal subject for a 95-second video, but our animation about biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) negotiations was nominated for a charity award.

The video was part of a series of animations, all produced by the Nice and Serious agency, that focused on different aspects of IIED’s work to promote an inclusive blue economy. The videos were designed to be short to appeal to policymakers who don’t have much time, and to explain complex issues in an easy-to-understand format.

The second video in the series was devised to urge policymakers to recognise the value that small-scale fishing brings to national economies, while the third explained how fiscal reforms and fiscal tools such as taxes, penalties and subsidies can support the health of the ocean and protect the livelihoods of people who depend on it.


Personal insight and promoting partners

In September, we published a long read to highlight how women in Senegal, Ghana and Tanzania are protecting their land rights that included six videos to help give a more human and personal insight into how the voices of rural women in local land governance are being strengthened.

The video above was made by the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) and includes an interview that explains how land-based investments are threatening tenure security in Ghana. The short film was our most viewed video that was uploaded to YouTube in 2019.


Speaking out

There was a controversial conclusion to the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Sunday, 15 December, with the conference having overrun by two days and many, including IIED director Andrew Norton, angrily lamenting the “paralysing delays, bargaining and denial by just a few countries” that are forcing millions of women, children and men to battle the floods, drought, rising waters and forest fires with limited support.

A day later, it was time for IIED senior fellow and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) director Saleemul Huq to give his view. For many years Huq, who has attended every one of the 25 COPs, has used video to provide daily updates on his work around the world, and to respond quickly and personally to events. On this occasion he was scathing about the current COP process, saying: "The system of the annual Conference of the Parties, and the way they are run, is completely busted.”

Huq’s powerful comments were widely viewed, and extracts from his video and accompanying tweets were used by journalists for stories on the outcome of the conference.


Why the words also matter

While the first thing most people would probably associate with videos is visual imagery, there are a number of reasons why YouTube is one of the many places where you can find IIED’s new podcast, ‘Make Change Happen’, since it launched in August.

One of the most popular social platforms on the internet, YouTube has become the second largest search engine after Google. And while we’re not currently repackaging the podcast audio into smaller, topical or search-engine friendly clips, as is generally advised, YouTube’s excellent and easy facility to add subtitles make using the service more than worthwhile and help make the audio more accessible to wider audiences. The cleaned-up subtitles can also be downloaded and used to compile a quick, complete transcript.


Recording, not travelling

As an institute all too aware of the impacts of the climate crisis, especially on the most vulnerable people, we are keenly aware of the need to reduce our own emissions; IIED has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5% per year.

As part of this commitment, we are increasingly challenging the need for our staff to travel to attend conferences, meetings and workshops, and the methods they employ to get there. One alternative that has proved popular is for our experts to record video addresses, as researcher Xiaoting Hou Jones did for the 17th Development & Climate Days event in Madrid in December, or as technical monitoring, evaluation and monitoring advisor Emilie Beauchamp did for July’s Pacific Islands Development Forum summit.

Kristalina Georgieva, then the CEO of the World Bank and now the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also sent a recorded opening address to the 13th international conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA13), which took place in April in Ethiopia. Georgieva highlighted the work the World Bank is doing to encourage the reduction of emissions and acceleration of climate adaptation.


Sharing knowledge online

Another way to reduce emissions is to convene the entire event online, and we continued to run numerous webinars in 2019 to enable us to engage and connect directly with policymakers and the people carrying out projects throughout the world.

Among the subjects covered were rebalancing power in global food chainslocal solutions to strengthen women’s voices in land governance and why the high seas matter to vulnerable coastal communities.

While each webinar attracted up to 100 people, we were able to share the evidence and expertise presented in the event with a wider audience by recording the presentations and question-and-answer sessions and uploading them to our YouTube channel.


Describing personal experiences

In February, IIED brought together ocean experts, policymakers and representatives of fisheries associations, business and civil society to discuss how to develop a marine economy that is fair and sustainable. The two-day 'Towards an inclusive blue economy' event was designed to hear as much as possible from the participants themselves, and many of the sessions were live streamed on our Facebook page.

The event was also a huge opportunity to capture the participants’ personal experiences and knowledge on the issues being discussed, ranging from negotiations on the high seas to fiscal reforms and the value of small-scale fisheries. We therefore carried out a series of short interviews with, for example, Yemi Oloruntuyi, of the Marine Stewardship Council, who explains why sustainability must be an essential condition of any investment in fisheries.

We also produced a short video to capture a flavour of the discussions on the first day to show participants at the start of the second day.


Showcasing our strategic direction

2019 was a year in which IIED published its 2019-2024 strategy, and director Andrew Norton recorded a video to accompany its launch. Because our Make Change Happen strategy will evolve over the course of the next five years, however, we didn’t want that video to be the end of engagement with our strategy. We intend to get other reactions, both from inside and outside the institute, to help continue to develop the strategy and how it responds to wider global events.

The first of these was with climate change and environment and development specialist Dr Tara Shine, then an IIED trustee, who gave her views on how the strategy is relevant to today's world, and where the world needs to make the greatest change.

This interview conducted with Shine in June proved to be remarkably prescient: five months later she was appointed as the new chair of IIED’s trustees, and will therefore be among those shaping and guiding the institute’s work. She will take up her post next September.


Most viewed of 2019: old favourites

Although initially published in August 2018 as part of two films highlighting initiatives to improve the sustainability of Chinese investments in Africa, ‘China’s Investment, Africa’s Forest’ proved to be our most viewed video of the year, so bears highlighting in this latest list.

A sustained series of comments and engagement, and links through YouTube’s algorithm from other popular China videos, helped drive the more than 15,000 views during the year, which is all the more impressive given limited Chinese audience due to restrictions on YouTube in China imposed by the authorities. ‘China’s Investment, Africa’s Forest’, which has Chinese and English subtitles, was watched twice as much as the second most viewed video, the enduringly charming and educational animation about the Sustainable Development Goals from 2015.

Video library

These 10 videos are only a selection of the films we hosted during 2019. Watch all of these videos – and many more – on IIED's YouTube channel and subscribe to get alerts when new videos are uploaded.

About the author

Matt Wright (matthew.wright@iied.org) is web planning and content manager in IIED's Communications Group

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