Human Development Through Behavioural Change


Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Human development is must for achieving the desired goals of “qualitative life”, sustainable socio-economic prosperity, political stability and above all moral purity. Many research studies have now confirmed that human development and behavioural change has direct correlation. Behavioural change always has positive impact on human development. Government communications is pivotal to institutionalize the holy concept of “human development through behavioural change which is the main theme of upcoming international conference to be held in pearl of the UAE, Sharjah on March 20-21, 2019.

We live in the era of sciences of mind wherein, behavioural change produces “push-forward” factor in the society. Human survival and sustainable development is heavily dependent on positive behavioural change in the communities, societies and countries alike. Countries, where behavioural change is matured, permanent and rationale through contributory government’s communications have already achieved high qualities of education, health facilities, better law and order conditions and above all political stability.

UAE being a pioneer country of tolerance in the region and the globe has pursued and achieved its desired goals through positive behavioural change in the society, system and public sentiments. His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah is successfully pursuing the golden principles of socio-economic prosperity, political stability and the last but not the least, system maintainability through bringing positive behavioural change in its emirate. Now Sharjah is the “cultural diversity capital” of the UAE.

Economies are now shrinking and politics are also becoming fragile in the world. Vicious circles of poverty, unemployment, gender discrimination and climate change is on the rise around the globe which stresses the need to have constructive behavioural change in the system of governance and delivery. Unfortunately, human traits are also on the decline due to sentiments of hatred, prejudice, bigatory and dis-connect are trying to siege the beauty of pure and simple humanity in the different corners of the world. In the time of intellectual bankruptcy and degradation of human morality, UAE stands first to announce “2019 the year of tolerance” which has been further strengthened by the ruler of Sharjah by organizing series of international conferences on the crucial subject of government communication in the development of human traits.

The 8th International Government Communication Conference will be held on March 20-21, 2019 in Sharjah, UAE. It will be held under the theme, ‘Behavioural Change Towards Human Development’. It is organized by Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), IGCF 2019. It will host dignified personalities and top officials from around the world, including heads of state and governments, prominent opinion leaders, directors of regional and international organizations, representatives of civil society and study and research centres, media personnel and students of mass communication and media.

Rapidly changing socio-economic trends, psychological bitter realities, sharpening geo-political narratives and of course geo-strategic diversity demands a “paradigm shift” in behavioural change towards human development. It may play a crucial role in the achieving sustainable peace and harmony in the world. UAE is the champion of tolerance and has already declared 2019 the year of tolerance and upcoming international conference with the theme behavioural change towards human development will further strengthen its role in human development.

Positive behavioural change will widen the scope of human development and humanity. It will be “gateway” for better “human understanding” to shun all elements and sentiments of discriminations, prejudices, bigotries and the last but not the least social stigmas. Behavioural change is the “basic unit” to achieve elements of unity, uniformity, uniqueness and happiness in the society. Being prominent regional expert on UAE & GCC I, personally think that the said upcoming conference will be a “milestone” in the history of mankind because a human being really matters.

It is expected that upcoming conference will further strengthen the role of government communication in supporting and enhancing human capital development. It will promote human traits featuring discussions on the promotion of healthy habits by elevating the status of education. Moreover, it will build “skills of the future” by nurturing behavioural practices dedicated to sustainability, and how governments can work together to encourage their people to feel individually responsible for human development. It is indeed a “infinite voyage” of social responsibility, promotion of human traits, character building through behavioural change.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC), highlighted the unique focus of IGCF 2019 and said that “IGCF’s previous editions have successfully strengthened communication structures and tools by shedding light on several issues of importance in the field across nations and governments.

The Chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC) is hopeful that the 2019 edition will be very successful. It will further strengthen the role of “government communication” in promoting positive behaviour around issues of national interest. Government communication’s mission is to enhance people’s awareness and seeing the larger public interest as part of their own. This can only be achieved when governments use communication to influence personal and social practices in a way that will enable individuals to fully understand their role in the success of national plans.” Government communication plays an important role in the lives of common people and diminishes “trust deficit” between the government and the people.

It is hoped that local and international communication experts along with behavioural specialists will come together at IGCF 2019 to deliberate on how to realistically incorporate sociology and human sciences into the development and implementation of successful government communication campaigns. “Without understanding people’s mindsets or the behavioural source of their practices, government policymaking will not be as accurate or impactful. Personalised and inclusive government communication one that is complete only with citizens’ equal participation can inspire positive change in people’s attitudes to serve broader public interests,” the SMC Chairman added.

The IGCF was launched in 2012 to “translate the goals and vision” of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. It implements after his objective to have individual development as the mission, vision and key target of all government policies and programs, as any practice that ignores this fact will never succeed.”

We are living in an era of modern technologies and smart world of complex and complicated interaction. Innovations increase connectivity which paves the way of new ways and means for human development. Modern communication technology makes it easier than ever for citizens to speak directly to governments, and IGCF 2019 seeks to leverage these developments to create behaviour analysis tools and mechanisms that overcome impending challenges to impact citizens positively and support personal as well as community growth.

The said forum will push for the adoption of behavioural strategies into government communication plans a practice that distinguishes the more welfare-centric and participative governments in the developed world. It will also highlight the importance of training government communication personnel, who will be the agents of qualitative change in government communication by facilitating the adoption of behavioural theory principles.

Since its inception in 2012, the IGCF has been successful in enhancing government communication in the UAE and the Arab world, and developing communication channels between governments and communities. It has brought together many presidents, heads of government, thought leaders, state officials, CEOs of regional and international entities as well as civil society organizations and government communication experts to share their expertise and visions on the best methods of elevating communication and increasing its efficiency to address current and future challenges.

The said forum has made a series of significant achievements over the last seven years, including the establishment of the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) and the Academic Commission of IGCF and the launch of Government Communication Award (GCA). It has become a reliable and trusted reference for an array of international communication case studies. It has also been able to enhance the abilities of government entities to manage crises and face challenges, as well as develop training programs for all government communication units in the Emirate of Sharjah and encourage university students to specialize in government communication.

Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah launched the inaugural edition of the forum in 2012.

It aims to build a platform for better communication between governments and their stakeholders to support the government of Sharjah towards creating a participatory dialogue and to develop government communication mechanisms for the benefit of government institutions in the UAE and the region.

International Government Communication Forum, convergences local, regional and global media experts along with government thought leaders from all over the world in the emirate of Sharjah. By internationalizing the title to ‘International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), the forum is set as an annual event to benchmark Sharjah’s media and communications mandate against global best practices, aims to bring the latest professional standards of various governments’ communication methods to the emirate, seeks to address and embed macro topics to develop a collaborative and participatory dialogue with opinion leaders, heads of government institutions, and other officials.

Human being is the ideal combination of various cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capabilities. By putting people at the center of the development process, we start to understand why they choose what they do and the constraints they face. In this regard, the upcoming Forum will further foster human development in the UAE, Arab World and around the globe. Modern disciplines of economics, sociology, psychology, and even political sciences all highlight the importance of behavioral change for human development therefore the 8th International Government Communication Conference will introduce new methods to be implemented for sustainable behavioral change for accelerating human development.

I personally think that by acknowledging individuals’ decision-making processes, including implicit and explicit behavioral patterns, governments can help introduce measures to address and motivate positivity in common people. Government’s communication through constant human friendly policies may bring change behavior to complement its interventions and affect meaningful and lasting change.

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