IGCF 2017 TO DEBATE UN 2030 AGENDA AND CHALLENGES FACING THE GLOBE; MORE THAN 2,500 WORLD LEADERS, EXPERTS TO ATTEND
Sharjah, UAE, March 13, 2017: We are all travelling in one boat and have to work together for a sustainable future and growth and government communication can play a critical role in getting us there. This was the thrust of the media interaction of some of the world leaders and influencers who are set to speak at the Sixth Edition of International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) 2017, being held on March 22-23 at the Expo Centre Sharjah. Being held with the support of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the Forum’s theme this year is ‘Societal Participation, Comprehensive Development’, as it focuses on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Eminent IGCF speakers including HE Horst Kohler, former president of Germany and former president of International Monetary Fund, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi from India, and HE John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland and former EU ambassador to the US, HE Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland and Member of Parliament, and Prof Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and Nobel Peace Prize winner, underscored the strategic role government communication plays in delivering change and making a difference to millions.
Leadership from Top Down
Lauding the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda as a valuable frame work to achieve this goal, former president of Germany Horst Kohler said: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to such a diverse audience about what I believe is the biggest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century: How can all people live in dignity without destroying the planet? The answer to this may lie in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as it provides a robust framework signed off by 193 countries.”
He said that the IGCF is an ideal platform to create a roadmap to achieving these ambitious goals. “It is important to underline that we are all in one boat: no national government alone can achieve the SDGs. What is needed is a spirit of cooperation and mutual accountability both within national societies and within international politics. True change needs leadership from the top. However, creativity and ideas can only come from bottom-up. Achieving the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) will require a learning process – and there is no learning without listening”.
Uplifting Those Left Behind
Kailash Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, for his efforts to rescue thousands of children from slavery, said the role of governments and government communication was paramount in uplifting those left behind: “The positive influence and outreach of government communication can bridge gaps and bring more value to public undertakings. By enhancing people’s participation and bringing meaningful attention to the lives of the poor, governments can build trust and lay legitimacy to its efforts.”
Recalling his recent conversation with the Sharjah leadership, Satyarthi underlined the importance of platforms such as IGCF: “I had the privilege of meeting His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, last year. His understanding, knowledge and, most importantly, compassion and commitment to the well-being of women and children left a lasting impression. While there are still many improvements governments must make in the way they engage their citizens, I am absolutely certain that IGCF will produce outstanding results in supporting the fulfilment of the SDGs. If local and regional governments put aside their conflicts and fix the deteriorating state of our economies and citizenship, the biggest beneficiary would be the future generations -- our children,” emphasised the Nobel Laureate.
Delivering Right Message
John Bruton, the former Prime Minister of Ireland and former EU envoy to the US, asserted that government communication can play a key role in delivering the right message on issues of public interest like climate change and development. He advised the practitioners of government communication to take into account the rapidly-changing ways in which the public consumes news these days.
“In the past, the majority of a given population might read the same newspapers, which meant that they found themselves reading viewpoints other than their own. Now, with the arrival of the Internet and social media, people can choose only to access media that selectively carry messages and opinions with which the audience already agrees,” he said, adding “we are now moving to an era of individualised communications, in which, individuals will have much greater control, based on pre-existing prejudices they may have.”
Commenting on the role that the digital revolution can play in achieving the SGDs, HE Alexander Stubb former Prime Minister of Finland and Member of Parliament said: “The digital revolution has been crucial to sustainable development because it gives governments the proper tools to tackle common challenges, such as poverty, climate change or clean water. In order to influence social behavior, which will help achieve the SDGs, governments need to use these tools to educate, communicate and act.”
Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus urged governments to engage with the younger segments of the population, and said: “By using technology, today’s youth can offer solutions to the social problems within their countries and beyond. Income inequality and wealth concentration are the main challenges today and the youth need to be aligned and equipped with the knowledge and tools to enable them to build a brighter future.”
All the speakers looked forward to the sixth edition of IGCF 2017 expressing confidence that the Forum will produce credible and outstanding efforts in supporting the UN agenda and SDG. The IGCF 2017 will see more than 2,500 world leaders, opinion makers and media and communication experts all under one roof who will brainstorm over how best to implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They will debate issues and challenges facing governments around the world and the world community and discuss ways of creating a better world.