On May 17, 1972, the UN Conference on Trade and Development proposed measures for the information dissemination and the mobilization of public opinion relative to trade and development problems. These became known as resolution 3038 (XXVII), which was passed by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 1972.
This resolution called for introducing World Development Information Day to help draw the attention of people worldwide to development problems. A further aim of the event is to explain to the general public why it is necessary to strengthen international cooperation to find ways to solve these problems. The assembly also decided that the day should coincide with United Nations Day to stress the central role of development in the UN's work. World Development Information Day was first held on October 24, 1973, and has been held on this date each year since then.
In recent years, many events have interpreted the title of the day slightly differently. These have concentrated on the role that modern information technologies, such as Internet and mobile telephones can play in alerting people and finding solutions to problems of trade and development. One of the specific aims of World Development Information Day was to inform and motivate young people and this change may help to further this aim.
World Development Information Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.
Many events are organized to focus attention on the work that the UN does, particularly with regard to problems of trade and development. Many of these are aimed at journalists working for a range of media, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines and Internet sites. Direct campaigns may also be organized in some areas. These may use advertisements in newspapers and on radio and television as well as posters in public places.
In South Africa, indabas (gatherings of community representatives with expertise in a particular area) are often held. Representatives of local, national and international bodies are invited to share, discuss and consolidate their ideas around a particular development issue of local or national importance.