Jun. 8, 2020

COVID-19 and the International SBCC Summit

COVID-19 and the International SBCC Summit


We hope this finds you safe and well wherever you may be in these uncertain and unprecedented times.

We're sure like those of us on the Secretariat, you are all closely following the COVID-19 pandemic both locally and globally. We imagine as well that many of you are directly involved in the emergency response in your respective countries. And, of course, all while coping with the many challenges of living through a pandemic such as ensuring you, your families and staff are safe, your organizations are economically secure and your communities are standing together.

As we consider where we are now with COVID-19, the Secretariat has come to the difficult conclusion that we should further postpone the International SBCC Summit event from the current dates of October 19-23, 2020. In reaching this decision we have considered many factors, including:

  • WHO Mass Gathering Risk Assessment Recommendations which consider factors such as host government policy; crowd density; nature of contact; age of participants; and, event duration, among others
  • How other event organizers are shifting, with many postponing until the 3rd quarter of 2021 (International Social Marketing Conference, International Conference on Family Planning, etc.)
  • Required travel (90+ countries at different points in pandemic)
  • Logistical and financial commitment issues
  • The potential for vaccine development and availability
  • The advantages and challenges with moving to a virtual event

Taking the above into account and our commitment to hosting a safe event for participants, the Secretariat is planning to move forward with a face-to-face event in Marrakech, but shifting it to September 20-24, 2021. We believe that by this time, travel will be feasible and that the value of the in-person connections for the community outweighs the value of holding a virtual event earlier.

Clearly, we have additional planning and coordination needs ahead as we think about the program content in the context of COVID-19 and the delay of the original event by more than a year. But given the current situation and timeline, we wanted to communicate our current plans to you as soon as possible.

Moving the event to next year poses a number of challenges, not the least of which is the logistical and financial reality of the venue booked, registration fees paid, and sponsorship packages in place. We have considered a variety of options on how to handle the registration fees, as we know this is top of mind for many people and are happy to share with you the available options:

  • Roll Over Your Current Registration Fee to 2021: We hope many, if not all, of you will still be able to join us in Marrakech in 2021. In this event, we simply ask you to keep your registration fee with us which we will apply to your participation in 2021. The registration fee will remain the same for anyone who chooses this option.
  • Designate a Substitute: If you are personally unable to attend, you can designate a substitute to attend using your existing registration fee. The registration fee will remain the same for this option as well.
  • Request a Refund: If, for personal or institutional reasons, you are not able to roll over your registration for yourself or someone else, we will provide a refund less a 15% processing payment. We regret that we cannot provide a 100% refund. The processing fee is covering un-recoupable costs for the planned event in 2020, including upfront expenses and processing fees.
  • Contribute your Registration Fee to Support the Youth Scholarship Fund: As you know, we are eager to ensure our younger colleagues have the opportunity to join us at the Summit. We would be very grateful if you are able to contribute your registration fees so that we can help support more of the next generation of SBCC professionals to join us in Morocco.
Additional details on these options will be posted to the Summit website by June 15, 2020.

We appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm for the SBCC Summit and hope we can count on your continued interest as we navigate these challenging times. We are looking forward to continuing to engage with you through on-line opportunities in the coming year leading up to the Summit (more details to follow).

As always, we are grateful to be part of this incredible community that is playing such a critical role in the COVID-19 response, as well as to the SBCC field in general.