Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
SUSTAINED social development is one the key priorities of Emirate of Sharjah. Its ruler, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi stresses the importance of partnerships between governments and society to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Sharjah which is the manufacturing hub of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is achieving new heights in socio-economic development through public-private partnership, seeking high inflows of foreign direct investments, further liberalization of macro-economy, rigorous industrialization and the last but not the least, diversification of economy and productive channels.
Sharjah has become one of the ideal hubs of investments, services, hospitalities, comforts, innovations, interactions, conferences, seminars, forums and the last but not the least, expos on different subjects relating to humanity, climate change, communication strategies education, investments, science and technology, ICT, tourism, culture, heritage and the last but not the least, sustainable development.
The 6th edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) will be held on March 22-23, 2017. Leaders of regional and international organisations, representatives of civil society organisations and research institutions, media heavyweights, and media and communication students from universities across the GCC region will participate in IGCF 2017.
Most recently, Sharjah Media Centre has announced details of the international forum to be held forum March 22 to 23, 2017. Their Excellencies Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui will preside key sessions at IGCF 2017. IGCF 2017 will feature several new events targeting diverse social segments.
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre (SMC) briefed that the Sixth Edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) will focus on forging partnerships between governments and society towards supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During the press conference at Sharjah’s Al Majaz he announced the details of IGCF 2017. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said the forum will commence from March 22 to 23 at Expo Centre Sharjah under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
IGCF 2017 titled “International Government Communication Forum to Focus on Societal Participation in Comprehensive Development” is the annual forum which will have participation of around 2,500 leading local and international government officials, media experts, opinion leaders, and government communication professionals.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said: “IGCF has its agenda and goals which are revolving and based on the UAE’s strategic direction and under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi. The Forum will educate participants and audiences about the importance of sustainable development. It will explore ways and means that government communication departments can use to support the efforts of their countries in addressing key challenges, he added.
According to Al Qasimi the Sixth Edition of IGCF will focus to enhancing the spirit of community partnership and instilling a sense of responsibility in the present and future generations towards their countries and humanity at large. Furthermore, it will highlight successful strategies that government communication practitioners may adopt to project public opinion towards a proactive response to current global issues and to make people an integral part of the solutions, he further added. The forum will emphasise the importance of partnerships between governments and all segments of society in overcoming development challenges. Such partnerships form an integral part of people’s social responsibility towards the advancement of their countries, he elaborated.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi concluded that for the first time Forum will pursue a diversified but integrated holistic approach during its all sessions by involve all members of the society including children, the youth, and persons with disabilities in the search for solutions to issues facing sustainable development. The society and its members will also engage media personalities and government communication professionals for enhancing awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and explore best international practices that have had a positive influence on public opinion, he concluded.
During the press conference, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Media Centre, introduced the agenda of the IGCF-2017. He briefed that ahead of the official inauguration of the event, the first session will discuss ‘Communication for Development (C4D) and Community Partnership’. It will be highlighting the purposes and goals of C4D programmes along with their implementations. The session will also pay special attention to the topic of forming a true community partnership through raising awareness about its importance and objectives, he added.
This session will host HE Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development, Kailash Satyarthi, acclaimed children’s rights activist and joint recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, and Najla Al Midfa, General Manager of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) he added.
Second session entitled ‘The Public and Private Sectors: Real Partnership towards Sustainable Development’ will thoroughly discuss the befitting role of government communication in creating a culture of community partnership under the spotlight. It will explore ways of encouraging a sense of responsibility towards global issues that have a local impact across social segments. The session will also highlight the important role of government partnerships with the private sector in addressing global humanitarian and environmental issues, and their impact on international peace and stability, he added.
He briefed that speakers will include HE Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Jeffrey Sachs, renowned development economist and former Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises.
He said that the third session, titled ‘Environment and Climate Change in Media Policies’, will focus on mechanisms of building a common ground for media organisations to enhance their collaboration with the public and private sectors. It will project the importance of raising public environmental awareness and the urgent need to integrate the topic into school curricula. In addition, it will examine ways of reinforcing the role of the media in lobbying for governments to adopt laws and regulations to protect the environment, he added.
The session will grace with the participation of HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment, HE Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland, Khaled Issa Al Huraimel, CEO of Bee’ah, and Safa’ Al Jayoussi, Founder and Executive Director of IndyACT in Jordan and Head of Climate and Energy Campaign in Arab World.
A panel discussion titled ‘Climate Change…Are There Real Solutions?’ will also be featured during first day of the forum. It will be moderated by HE Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations in Sharjah. The panel will host Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Founder and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project.
The debate will focus on climate change and ways and means of reinforcing the commitment of governments, industries, official and civil organisations, and communities at large to sustainable development and related legislation for the reduction of climate change threat from this planet. It will also highlight sanctions to be imposed on companies and countries that violate environmental protection laws.
For the first time ever, the sixth edition of IGCF will introduce an innovative step by featuring a workshop for disabled people. It will witness the participation of Her Excellency Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Director General of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, as a guest of honour.
This special workshop will be organised in collaboration with Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, the workshop aligns with the Forum’s theme of using communication to solve development issues and reinforces the keenness of the IGCF this year to engage all social segments in the search for innovative solutions to current global challenges. Its inclusion cements Sharjah’s reputation as an Emirate that cares for its people and humanity in general. Undoubtedly Sharjah is a place where humanity comes first which is based on the UAE’s noble policy of tolerance, interfaith harmony and giving.
The first day of the Forum will also feature a youth circle under the theme ‘The Role of Government Communication in Motivating Youth to Participate in the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals’. The event will host HE Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs, HE Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development. It will be organized in partnership with the UAE Ministry of State for Youth Affairs and Emirates Youth Council, the youth circle targets people between 15 and 30 years of age with diverse academic backgrounds and interest will participate in this session. The session will debate the effectiveness of government communication campaigns in their impact on the youth and the influence of the choice of media and nature of the message in disseminating the message across.
The second day of IGCF will start with a session entitled ‘Role of Social Media Platforms From Participation to Real Partnership’. It will examine the influence of social media in shaping public opinion on important international issues across social segments.
The session will further explore how governments use social media platforms to encourage individuals and groups to change behaviours and become part of the development process. It will also highlight the importance of shifting interest and perspective from individual issues to collective/community issues. In addition, the session will review case studies demonstrating how to manage government social media campaigns to prevent indifference towards public issues among the wider audience.
Speakers will include HE Saeed Saleh Al Remeithi, Member of the UAE Federal National Council-Abu Dhabi, Nicholas Christakis, Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, Ashraf Zeitoon, Head of Policy Middle East at Facebook, and Ediola Pashollari, Secretary General of the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) and Director of the World Youth Institute (WYI).
Second session entitled ‘Government Communication and Development Goals in the Arab World’, will discuss sustainable development in the region. It will stress the need to emphasis on challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, environmental pollution and the destruction of nature as a result of wars and conflicts. Furthermore, it will highlight the role of government communication in reinforcing the importance of community partnership in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This interactive session will review youth and community initiatives which have succeeded in changing the status quo by evoking positive sentiments in their audience. In addition, it will explore means of coordination between the media, government and non-government organisations in shaping positive public opinion and motivating society to proactively contribute to key development decisions.
Participants will include Abdul Latif Youssef Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Mishal Kanoo, Chairman of The Kanoo Group, and Dr Adah Almutairi, Professor and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Nanomedicine and Engineering at University of California, San Diego.
Third session titled ‘Impact of Conflicts and Refugees on Arab Development’ will debate on all aspects of the refugee issue with a special focus on women and children refugees. The session will host representatives from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and a number of specialists in refugees issues from different international organisations.
Its first part will cover the effect of current conflicts on children’s education, the role of women in supporting development, and solutions for rehabilitating women and limiting the adverse impact of the refugee status on children. The second part will discuss the means that civil organisations considered a tool for social development can use to mitigate the negative consequences of the refugee crisis on the Middle East region. The third part will address extremist thinking and the threat it poses to the role of women as major contributors to the economy and society, as well as the role Arab women can play in fighting extremism.
The second day will also include a special workshop of the Sharjah Children Shura Council, organised in cooperation with Sharjah Children Centres. It aims to enhance engagement with the next generation, motivating them to contribute to the country’s prosperity through making simple changes to their daily habits. It also seeks to educate children about helping the less fortunate overcome diverse challenges, and apply their ideas and creativity in addressing development issues. Mohammed bin Dakheen Al-Matroushi, Director of Media and Communications Department at the Securities and Commodities Authority, will moderate the workshop.
Moreover, IGCF-2017 will hold three additional specialised workshops. HE Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland and Member of Parliament, will present the first workshop for members of the Sharjah Executive Council. Organised by the United Nations Foundation under the theme ‘International Best Practices in Communicating Sustainable Development Goals’, the remaining two workshops will target media professionals and communication teams at government entities.
A special session entitled ‘The Need for Press Clubs’, Sharjah Press Club will hold a special session for journalists to highlight the importance of having press clubs. The Club will also organise a two-day workshop on ‘journalistic writing’. Day two will also feature the announcement of the recommendations of the sixth edition of the Forum, and a ceremony honouring winners of the Sharjah Government Communication Award 2017.
Since its inception in 2012, the International Government Communication Forum has now emerged as a leading global event that attracts top decision makers, experts and stakeholders in government communication from across the world. It provides an ideal and transparent platform for discussing current issues and formulating recommendations to help governments enhance the way they communicate to the utmost satisfaction of their audiences. The Forum seeks to achieve greater convergence in the relationship between governments and the public to ensure sustainable development.