Paul D. Boyd & Development Communication

Paul D. Boyd, American writer and former UNDP Chief Communication Officer in the Division of Information passed away on 24 February 2011. Before his memorial service scheduled for April 17, I want to pay tribute to him as a dear friend and as a dedicated UN colleague, especially for his work in Development Support Communication. For descriptions see Mr. Royal Colle’s, study on Advocacy and Intervention of Communication.
Paul had worked for two decades at UNDP Headquarters in New York. In the 60s, he was the right-hand man of Mr. Clinton Rehling, Special Assistant to Mr. Paul Hoffman, the first UNDP Administrator. In the 70s, Paul worked closely with my late husband Erskine B. Childers, Director of the Division of Information under the leadership at that time of UNDP Administrator Bradford Morse. Without the energetic support from Paul, the innovative work of UNDP in the Asia region on Development Support Communication would not have taken off in Bangkok as it did in 1968. At that time, I was working with UNICEF as Information Officer for the East Asia and Pakistan Regional Office, and DSCS coordinator. Paul was considered a key member of our team that pioneered work in the planning of communication support components in UNDP-assisted development projects in Asia. In the 1960s, communication with locals who lived in the area and were involved in the project operation were not considered as part of the investment that required a planned budget as other technical assistance did. Paul’s strategic thinking and action at UNDP headquarters was motivated by an idea that he shared with us that no innovation, no matter how brilliantly designed and set down in a project plan of operations, becomes “development” until it has been communicated. He spent a lot of energy and working hours beyond the call of duty to promote this idea to UNDP Headquarters staff. He joined many of the inter-agencies meetings on development communication representing UNDP. Paul wanted to prove that success of UNDP-assisted development projects around the world can happen because of well-planned communication input at an early stage in the project’s design. By the mid-1970s, in addition to the setting up of Development Support Communication Service in Bangkok, other similar services were set up In Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, and Bangladesh by the governments with assistance from UNDP. The creation of a National Development Support Communication Centre/Bureau as part of the Ministry of Information had begun to take root at that time. Paul was happy to see that there were an increasing number of projects assisted by UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA that took account of a communication support component at the planning stage. What I think disappointed Paul most up until the time he left UNDP was that his work in development communication did not get much support from UNDP’s geographical bureau senior staff. And in 1975, when UNDP faced a financial crisis, DSCS work was the first victim of budget cuts. After Mr. Bradford Morse and Mr. Arthur Brown, the Associate UNDP Administrator left the organization, there were also changes of key senior staff in the organization and management style. These unfortunate events had done damage to progress in UNDP’s pioneering work in development support communication. Now that Paul has gone from us, his kindness remains in our memories. Personally I miss Paul’s friendship over a long period of time with my son and my late husband. When Erskine died, in 1996, I remember Paul walking to me at the end of the memorial service to ask why none of the speakers mentioned Erskine’s major contribution in development support communication. I think this is a good opportunity for us to pay tribute to both Mr. Paul D. Boyd and Mr. Erskine B. Childers for their decades of pioneering work and contributions to leadership in development and the communication work in the United Nations system.