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United Nations Work | 1997 - 2017


I began working for the United Nations in 1997. Previously, I had covered the United Nations as a journalist and magazine editor, including from Port-au-Prince on Canada's 1996 Haiti peacekeeping mission, as well as its previous mission in Somalia. I also covered debates around the international intervention in Bosnia and community health initiatives and innovations in Canada in response to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Healthy Cities movement. 

My work for the United Nations includes "the biggest peacetime, post-WWII economic collapse..." in late 1990s Mongolia, the rise of the Internet around the world and the communications revolution sweeping internally across the UN from the late 1990s, communicating the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a consultant from 2000, and, finally, since 2007, work with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) communicating the rise of the global South through the highly influential UN e-newsletter, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions. It chronicled the impact of the mobile and information technology revolution on the global South, and championed a rising 21st-century innovator culture emerging from these trends through the global magazine Southern Innovator.  

Liked on Twitter by Helen Clark, former Administrator for UNDP during the development and launch of Southern Innovator from 2010-2011.

Timeline + Themes

- Crisis, Internet and Communications Revolution, Poverty, Recovery, Resilience, Transition

1997: Begin working with UN/UNDP Mongolia as head of the UN/UNDP Mongolia Communications Office. Mongolia was in the grip of a severe crisis brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its supports, and the turbulent transition to free markets and democracy. In 1997, I developed, launched and led the award-winning UN/UNDP Mongolia Development Portal (, oversaw the editing, production, launch and publicity for the first Mongolian Human Development Report 1997, oversaw the editing, production, launch and publicity for the first Mongolian AIDS Bulletin, developed and edited the groundbreaking UN Mongolia newsletter, Blue Sky Bulletin, among many other communications activities.     

1998: In response to the political crisis, briefings were published to help better explain what was happening. Also worked with Mongolian and international journalists to improve the coverage of Mongolia's development issues and challenges. This included organising and leading media tours of the country. 

- Entrepreneurship, Environment, HIV/AIDS/STDs, Human Development, Internet, Media/Journalism

1999: Many books were published by the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office this year, including: In Their Own Words: Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999, the Environmental Public Awareness Handbook: Case Studies and Lessons Learned in Mongolia, and the Mongolian Rock and Pop book. Complete my two-year assignment with UN/UNDP Mongolia and begin working with a UK-based international development consultancy, researching, writing and editing papers and developing content for the Internet. This included working for the World Bank's Task Force on Higher Education.

- Human Development, Internet, Millennium Development Goals, Transition

2000: Work as a Consultant for UN Ukraine to re-develop their online portal and to advise the UN Resident Coordinator. 

2004: Begin working as a Consultant for UN missions in Mongolia, South Africa, and Turkmenistan.

2005: Work as a consultant in Mongolia and Turkmenistan.

- Africa, China, Global South, Innovation, Innovators, Internet, Mobile and Information Technologies, South-South Cooperation

2006: Hired by the then-Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) to develop the e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions.  

2007: Research and write stories for Development Challenges, South-South Solutions. Begin online story sharing using social media, online archives and crowd-powered news media.

2008: Undertake a study tour in Cuba to view housing built using eco-materials and also visit hurricane recovery and rebuilding projects. 

2009: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions has developed a large global readership and identified many key trends affecting the global South. 

2010: Begin development on the new global magazine Southern Innovator for the UNOSSC, working with one of Iceland's top graphic designers and illustrators.

2011: Launch the first issue of Southern Innovator on the theme of mobile phones and information technology at GSSD Expo in Rome, Italy

2012: Launch the second and third issues of Southern Innovator at GSSD Expo in Vienna, Austria

2013: Launch the fourth issue of Southern Innovator at GSSD Expo in Nairobi, Kenya

2014: Launch fifth issue of Southern Innovator at GSSD Expo in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. 

2015: Develop Scale-up Plan for the global innovation brand Southern Innovator.

2016: Launch David South International as the parent outfit for David South Consulting and Southern Innovator.

2017: Invited to speak and join a panel discussion at the Workshop on Innovations in Service Delivery: The Scope for South-South and Triangular Cooperation held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hosted by the a2i (access to information) division of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office, the implementing unit for Digital Bangladesh, it was convened by the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).


Under-Secretary-General Nafis Sadik on the 1998 UN Mongolia Annual Report: “a clear, well-written, attractive and colourful report.” 

Kofi Annan on the first One World Youth Conferences in Mongolia: “This One World Conference Series is a shining example of Mongolia’s determination to build a more democratic and prosperous future for all its citizens based on human rights, good governance, and a free and fair market economy. … Never should young people have to be protected from government.”

In 2001, the UN won the Nobel Peace Prize for “their work for a better organized and more peaceful world” and its communications innovations, with work such as that in Mongolia being cited as a contributing factor to the awarding of the Prize.

A UN survey in 2000 on the UN Mongolia Development Portal ( I launched and led for two years: “A UN System site. A very nice, complete, professional site. Lots of information, easily accessible and well laid out. The information is comprehensive and up-to-date. This is a model of what a UNDP CO web site should be.”

Douglas Gardner, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mongolia, on my work from 1997-1999: “Mongolia is not an easy country to live in and David [South] showed a keen ability to adapt in difficult circumstances. He was sensitive to the local habits and cultures and was highly respected by his Mongolian colleagues. … David’s journalism background served him well in his position as Director of the Communications Unit. … A major accomplishment … was the establishment of the UNDP web site. He had the artistic flare, solid writing talent and organizational skills that made this a success. … we greatly appreciated the talents and contributions of David South to the work of UNDP in Mongolia.” 

United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)/Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) (2007-2017)

Cosmas Gitta, Former Assistant Director, Policy and United Nations Affairs at United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in UNDP: “The e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions proved to be a timely and prescient resource on the fast-changing global South, tracking the rise of an innovator culture driven by the rapid adoption of mobile phones and information technology …

“In 2010, work began on the development of the world’s first magazine dedicated to the 21st-century innovator culture of the global South. My goal was to create a magazine that would reach across countries and cultures, meet the UN’s standards, and inspire action. Southern Innovator was the result. Mr. [David] South played a vital role in the magazine’s development from its early conception, through its various design prototypes, to its final global launch and distribution. 

“Both the e-newsletter and magazine raised the profile of South-South cooperation and have been cited by readers for inspiring innovators, academics, policy makers and development practitioners in the United Nations and beyond. 

“I highly recommend Mr. [David] South as a thoughtful, insightful, analytical, creative and very amicable person who has the unique ability to not only grasp complex problems but also to formulate a vision and strategy that gets things done. … ”  

On Southern Innovator: 

Ines Tofalo, Programme Specialist, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation: “I think you [David South] and the designer [Solveig Rolfsdottir] do great work and I enjoy Southern Innovator very much!” 

Adam Rogers, Assistant Director, Regional Representative, Europe, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC): @SouthSouth1 is one of the best sources out there for news and info on #solutions to #SouthSouth challenges.”

Joana Breidenbach,, Berlin, Germany: "I liked your latest Southern innovator! Always inspiring." 

Moladi, South Africa ( "Thank you David - Your insight into the issues facing us a[s] [a] "global Village" is made real in the detail of your article - 10 out of 10 from the moladi team." 

Peggy Lee on Pinterest: "Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it."

Rose Shuman, Founder & CEO, Open Mind and Question Box: "What a tremendous magazine your team has produced! It's a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space... Really looking forward to what you produce in issues #2 and #3. This is great, engaging, relevant and topical stuff." 

On e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions: 

Whitney Harrelson, Making Cents, Washington, D.C.: “Congratulations on another great newsletter that’s packed with fascinating information! I really enjoy getting it each month.” 

Africa RenewalAfrica Section, Strategic Communications Division, United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI): “Great economic and business reporting! Very helpful for us.”

Violette Ruppanner, Director, 3D -> Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy, Geneva, Switzerland: “I just went over your June newsletter. It’s very well done and far reaching. Congratulations!”

Ian Sanderson, Deloitte, Geneva, Switzerland: “Just to let you know I enjoyed the newsletter a lot – it was interesting to learn about things going on that I would never otherwise find out about, and also the listing of future conferences and events proved very useful.” 

© David South Consulting 2018