Rotary International is a long-term campaigner for polio eradication, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
Despite significant success in reducing cases of polio, thanks to the GPEI’s global programme of vaccinations, as of 2017 polio was still endemic in three countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Just one exported case from any of these countries to a neighbouring region would be all it would take to put the rest of the world back at risk. Rotary hired APCO’s Brussels team to make the case to the EU for additional funding to help eradicate this terrible disease once and for all.
Our primary objective was to secure new EU funding for polio eradication. The secondary objective was to raise the profile of Rotary International’s crucial role in this historic campaign. While the EU Commission would be the ultimate decision-maker, our strategy was to make Rotary’s case to all three EU institutions, in order to persuade the Parliament and the Council to exert additional pressure on the Commission.
We implemented the project via a combination of direct advocacy and stakeholder engagement with influencers at every level of the three EU institutions, as well as with key national policy-makers. We also successfully mobilised a grassroots campaign to encourage Rotary International’s network of voluntary activists to contact their national MEPs in support of the campaign.
This campaign grew in momentum with key milestones including MEPs adopting a Parliamentary Resolution on polio eradication and the successful amendment of the EU budget to include polio eradication. APCO’s team was also instrumental in securing the attendance of Commissioner Neven Mimica to speak at Rotary’s annual convention in Atlanta in June 2017.
At Rotary’s annual convention in June 2017, Commissioner Neven Mimica announced the EU would provide funding of an additional €55 million towards polio eradication, in front of an audience of 33,900 Rotary members. The significant role played by Rotary in this campaign was prominent in international media and social media reports of the funding announcement.
APCO Worldwide has worked for Rotary International since 2013, in various markets around the world (including Germany, UK, Brussels, France and Canada) to support Rotary’s campaign around polio eradication. APCO also oversaw work for Rotary in Japan and Brazil.