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IGCF 2017 Agenda

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) has revealed the agenda of the Sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) to be held on March 22-23, 2017.

It covers all aspects of government’s communication strategies to achieve goals of sustainable development, social cohesion, peace, harmony and ultimately qualitative life. It highlights the need of public-private partnership for achieving desired goals of socio-economic prosperity. It speaks about the importance of eco-balancing and climate change.

His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council and Head of the Forum’s Higher Organising Committee, said: “The 2017 edition of the Forum focuses on the role of government communication as a vital tool in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Efficient and modern government communication engages all social segments and stakeholders in a partnership with the government to support its endeavours in building a sustainable world by 2030.”

He added: “Over the years, the topics discussed at the Forum have increasingly reflected the leading role of the Emirate of Sharjah and the wider UAE in raising the level of government communication to support governmental efforts across various development sectors and provide a brighter future for coming generations. This makes us confident that this year’s Forum will significantly contribute to advancing the UN’s crucial work in positively transforming the lives of the world’s communities.”
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi reiterated that the core mission of government communication is to ensure people adopt the values and principles that humanity has developed over time as part of its priority to advance and thrive. He stressed the importance of these values in building human relations and enabling people to better understand one another with the objective of ensuring peaceful resolution to all disputes.

The Chairman of Sharjah Media Council noted that IGCF 2017 will host high-ranking officials from 16 countries including the UAE and comprise five keynote speeches, seven panel discussions, six individual conversation panels, five workshops and three interactive sessions. The Forum is likely to be attended by more than 2,500 guests.

On day one of the Forum, a special ceremony will honour the winners of the fourth Sharjah Government Communication Award (GCA 2017). Prominent special invitees this year include a former president and vice president, two heads of governments, five ministers, two Nobel Peace Prize winners, as well as representatives of international institutions and decision-makers from both the public and private sectors.

Leadership and Communication

HE Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy spoke highly about the high standards of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau initiative and said: “The International Government Communication Forum places great emphasis on developing best practices within the UAE government and at a regional level. It serves as an ideal platform to share thoughts and views on the growing role of communication and media, and their impact on highlighting governments’ efforts, enhancing policies and improving governmental capabilities to strategies for growth.”
The minister added: “What gives the Forum even greater value is that it is endorsed by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, affirming our leadership’s belief in the vital role of communication in supporting government goals.”
On his part, HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “In the UAE, government communication plays a significant part in raising awareness about sustainability and ensuring it becomes a shared responsibility among the government, private sector entities and society at large. With climate change becoming the most pressing challenge in the world today, government communication must emphasise its impact on the future of humanity without spreading fear.”

Happy Society

HE Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, UAE Minister of State for Happiness, highlighted the importance of the media in instilling happiness and positive values in society. She noted that government communication has an equal role in endorsing these values by raising social awareness, and promoting happiness and positivity as a focus of government work and a way of life.
She added that the UAE leadership is keen to build a positive social environment, where happiness can grow and be measured. The International Government Communication Forum reflects this governmental priority and supports national efforts to achieve happiness and instil positive values as a cornerstone of the national ethos.

“In the UAE, we believe that the happiness of our society is the utmost goal and the ultimate result of the efforts of our government. We aim to make our sustainable development a model for other countries to follow, she added”.

Day one of the Forum will start with the first panel discussion titled ‘Communication for Development (C4D) and Community Partnership’. Panellists will include HE Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), HE Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development, Kailash Satyarthi, acclaimed children’s rights activist and joint winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, and Najla Al Midfa, General Manager of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa). The session will be moderated by Dr Sultan Al-Nuaimi, academic and researcher in the field of political affairs.

Following the first session, the official inauguration ceremony will be presented by Hassan Yaqoub Al Mansouri, Director of Sharjah Radio. HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi will deliver the opening speech, followed by the official keynote address by the patron of the Forum, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi.

Next, a conversation panel titled ‘Climate Change…Are There Real Solutions?’ will host Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and founder and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project. HE Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations in Sharjah, will moderate the session.

Partnerships for Development

John Defterios, Presenter and Editor of CNNMoney Emerging Markets, will moderate the second panel discussion titled ‘The Public and Private Sectors: Real Partnership towards Sustainable Development’. The high-profile speakers on the panel will include HE Engineer Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, Dr Jeffrey Sachs, renowned development economist and former Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Dr Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and President of Crescent Petroleum.

Mark Schapiro, author and award-winning journalist specialising in international environmental stories, will mediate the third panel discussion titled ‘Environment and Climate Change in Media Policies’. Eminent panellists set to headline the session include HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, HE John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland, former EU Ambassador to the US and Chairman of International Financial Services Centre (IFSC Ireland), HE Khaled Issa Al Huraimel, Group CEO, Bee’ah, and Safa’ Al Jayoussi, Head of Climate and Energy Campaign in the Arab world for IndyACT, founder and Executive Director of IndyACT in Jordan, and winner of the 2016 Young Energy Professional of the Year Award.

In parallel to the discussions and conversation panels, IGCF 2017 will hold several activities, such as the Youth Circle, organised in cooperation with the Emirates Youth Council under the theme ’The Role of Government Communication in Motivating Youth to Participate in the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals’. Over 30 youth representatives from the UAE will participate in the session, facilitated by Dua Al Hammadi, Presenter at Sama Dubai TV, and moderated by Fatma Al-Bannay, news presenter at Dubai Media Incorporated. Guests of honour will include HE Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and HE Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, Cabinet Member and Minister of Community Development, UAE
Other side-line events will include interactive sessions with the renowned international journalist Kelvin O’Shea, organised by the Sharjah Press Club, and with the ambassadors of the Sharjah Government Communication Award.

Sharjah Government Communication Award
The first day of the International Government Communication Forum will conclude with a ceremony to honour the winners of the fourth Sharjah Government Communication Award. His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, will present the awards to the winners of all GCA categories in the presence of the GCA jury and representatives of federal and local government authorities in the UAE and GCC.
Abdel Salam Al-Hammadi, presenter at Sharjah Media Corporation, will open the second day of the Forum, followed by a panel discussion titled ‘The Role of Social Media Platforms – From Participation to Real Partnership’. Panellists will include HE Saeed Saleh Al Remeithi, Member of the UAE Federal National Council, Nicholas Christakis, Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, Ashraf Zeitoon, Founding Partner and Chief Innovation Officer, Diplomacy Labs, and Ediola Pashollari, Secretary General of the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) and Director of the World Youth Institute (WYI). Jessy El Murr, Social Media Producer and Presenter at Sky News Arabia, will moderate the session.

Next on the agenda will be keynote speeches by Tariq Saeed Allay, Director, Sharjah Government Media Bureau, HE Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, UAE Minister of State for Happiness, HE Horst Köhler, former President of Germany and former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Muna Harib Al Muhairi, founder of the Breathing Numbers project that helps Syrian refugees.

Government Communication and Development

The second panel discussion of the day, ‘Government Communication and Development Goals in the Arab World’, will shine a light on the challenges to sustainable development in the Arab world, such as poverty, illiteracy, environmental pollution and the destruction of nature due to wars and conflicts. In addition, it will discuss the role of government communication in reinforcing the importance of community partnership to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Participants will include Mishal Kanoo, Chairman of The Kanoo Group, Dr Adah Almutairi, Professor and Director of the Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine and Engineering at University of California San Diego, and Hanan Al Hroub, winner of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize. Sarah Dundarawy, TV Presenter at Al Arabiya news channel, will moderate the session.

The third panel discussion, titled ‘Impact of Conflicts and Refugees on Arab Development’, will focus on the role of non-profit organisations in supporting sustainable development and mitigating the negative impact of conflict in the Middle East region. In addition, it will examine extremist thinking and the threat it poses to the role of women as major contributors to the economy and society, while reinforcing the part Arab women can play in fighting extremism.

Panellists will include Khaled Khalifa, Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the States of the GCC, Mariam Farag, Group CSR Manager at MBC Group, Petr Kostohryz, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Jordan, and Tamara Saeb, Head of Communications at Médecins Sans Frontières, UAE. Houssam Chahin, Senior Private Sector Partnerships Officer for the MENA Region at UNHCR, will moderate this discussion.

The second day of the Forum will also feature an interactive session titled ‘The Need for Press Clubs’, organised by the Sharjah Press Club with the participation of Emirati media experts. In line with national efforts to empower the young generation to lead the future and come up with solutions to challenges, a session themed ‘Youth Energy’ will highlight positive examples of young achievers that can serve as role models for today’s youngsters.

Furthermore, the Bureau will hold a closed session for top Sharjah government officials titled ‘Country and City Global Reputation and its Impact on Economy’, facilitated by BBC Worldwide. The session will showcase how countries and cities with strong global brands and reputation welcome more tourists, improve their public diplomacy record and increase exports, in addition to attracting more foreign direct investment, knowledge and talent.

In partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the Bureau will organise two workshops on the sidelines of the Forum. In addition, it will launch an online interactive platform for members of the Sharjah Government Communication Network (GCN) at a special workshop facilitated by LinkedIn. The curtain will come down on the Sixth Edition of the IGCF with a grand closing ceremony announcing the outcomes and recommendations of the 2-day event.

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