Weber Shandwick was called upon to assist the United Nations in persuading governments and large businesses to take action assisting the developing world with sustainable energy sources.


The Challenge

When it comes to energy, there are two different worlds: the world of the energy haves, and the one of the energy have-nots.

In the developed world of the haves, energy is plentiful. It powers modern life. In the developing world of the have-nots, one out of five people lacks access to electricity. And 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or dung for cooking and heating. Without available energy, progress is impossible. Yet, these two worlds are not on separate planets. The haves waste energy and pollute. Their inefficiency harms economic development and damages our planet.

The United Nations, under the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saw a way to solve this problem: generate vastly more sustainable energy that is accessible, clean and efficient. They created the Sustainable Energy for All initiative to accomplish it, and asked Weber Shandwick to create a global communications plan just as ambitious.

The Idea

“More than a billion people will benefit from improved access to energy, renewable energy sources, increased investment, and better energy policies.”

Delivering on this ambitious plan required massive contributions from governments and businesses. So, Weber Shandwick identified the diverse targets that needed to be reached, including government agencies, local communities, policy makers, and energy influentials. The team then created a powerful communications plan to raise awareness and engage the key audiences.

They were reached through a strategic stakeholder engagement campaign and key global events, from Africa to Asia and across Europe and the Americas. We created storylines around progress being made in sustainable energy throughout the campaign. We also worked hand in hand with the UN and the UN Foundation to coordinate a major announcement of commitments at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Engaging infographics, Op-Eds, and a new web site were all added to the mix.

The Impact

The results were impressive.

We coordinated proactive media outreach to top tier and industry-leading trade publications, resulting in a total of 504 stories between January, 2012 when the initiative launched in Abu Dhabi, through June at the Rio+20 conference. As a result, there was a 45% increase was achieved in social conversation around sustainable energy. Over 50 governments signed on to the initiative. And an initial $50 billion was committed by businesses and investors.

With progress like this, the worlds of the energy “haves” and “have-nots” will look more and more alike. And that’s a world that benefits everyone.

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