Sharjah Crown Prince inaugurates 11th IGCF at Expo Centre
September 28, 2022 / 10:00 AM
Sharjah24: His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of Sharjah Executive Council (SEC), in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), inaugurated the 11th annual International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) today (Wednesday, Septembre 28), which is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
The two-day event themed ‘Challenges and Solutions’ is organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), an initiative of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB). The forum has convened over 160 senior public officials, thought leaders and experts, who will lead exciting debates and discussions to highlight how government communication can be employed to not just overcome local and global governance challenges and socio-economic crises, but has the potential to transform them into opportunities. Opening the forum’s discussions with a powerful keynote speech, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, highlighted the emirate’s successful experience in strengthening the role of the family and youth training centres, and combining it with responsible media communication to present only what is useful to society to overcome challenges posed by certain misleading external influences of a technology driven, globalised world. Sharjah first Arab city to implement four-day work week to boost family cohesion “Today, Sharjah is a UNICEF recognised child-friendly city and offers equal opportunities to the youth and persons with disabilities. We are also the first Arab city to have special care provisions for senior citizens and other vulnerable population segments. It is the first city in the Arab world to implement a four-day work week mandate to promote family cohesion, which we know fortifies us against these challenges,” stressed Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi. He reaffirmed that through its vision to promote the role and impact of government communication, “Sharjah wants to deliver the message that communication itself is the bold line that separates stability from turmoil, clarity from confusion, and guides us from where we are now to what we aspire to be.”
Challenges have never stopped humanity: Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi “Challenges have never stopped humanity and each era faces its own set. Our planet has been challenged by devastating earthquakes, and deadly pandemics. Wars have claimed souls, our struggles over water have increased and we fight until consumed by hunger. Countries have collapsed and governments have fallen. Yet, the world did not accept defeat and humanity did not lose hope,” the Deputy Ruler of Sharjah continued. Emphasising on the particular difficulties in circumstances felt by the world in the past couple of years, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi noted: “Some thought that the Covid-19 pandemic will eliminate humanity, the Russia-Ukrainian war will divide the world into two, or that a third World War is imminent, and that the refugee crisis has no solution. Many believed that the disruption of wheat supplies would lead to a new famine, and that gas supplies would be cut off from an entire continent, but none of these happened.”
He pointed out that "humanity is facing another great challenge, which is climate change. After enjoying a phase of permanent spring, countries are seeing their rivers dry up and their green surfaces turn yellow, while floods are killing people in other countries, annihilating villages and causing suffering for millions. Once again, these challenges did not lead to the extermination of mankind."
In conclusion, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi thanked bright minds who have enabled humanity to overcome the darkest of challenges by continually drawing lessons from the past. “Some governments have the ability to foresee some disasters, anticipate the future, and prepare to reduce their challenging impact.” UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence leads IGCF’s popular ‘Inspiring Talks’ series The forum rolled out its popular Inspirational Talks series with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, whose talk titled ‘Optimal communication strategies for balanced relations between cultures’ began with him expressing deep appreciation and gratitude to the Ruler of Sharjah for extending generous and continuous patronage to key cultural and intellectual events, including IGCF. The minister’s talk highlighted four axes that UAE bases its relationship building with other cultures, starting with the axis of acquaintance, dialogue, tolerance, full cooperation and fruitful relations between followers of civilisations and cultures, which constitute the path to a more advanced, more peaceful, more prosperous and stable world. “Our second axis is that there is an urgent need to develop relations between people in a way that deepens the spirit of hope and optimism in them. There is also an urgent need for opinions, ideas and initiatives that contribute to finding successful ways and effective solutions to seemingly difficult and complex problems. for a long time,” the minister noted. “The third axis is our complete conviction that the civilisational and cultural gaps between nations and peoples can end if channels of development, dialogue, coexistence and joint action are available, which achieve convergence and cooperation among all parties. Finally, the fourth axis is based on the fact that the areas of developing balanced relations between followers of civilisations and cultures are naturally areas that encourage renewable ideas and beneficial initiatives, all of which focus on the progress of society and human development, and therefore, they are permanently developed areas as demonstrated by practical on-ground application,” Al Nahyan added.
The Minister stressed that the pursuit of balanced and equal relations between civilisations and cultures should not be limited to theoretical discussions but viewed as an opportunity for practical projects, social and economic leadership initiatives, volunteer programmes and public service. “The activities connected to relationships between nations and peoples can have significant economic value, allow the development of joint investments, and encourage beneficial innovation at all levels”, he emphasised.
“Our ministry and the entire nation are fully committed to the values of tolerance, coexistence and human fraternity. We committedly work towards establishing balanced and strong cooperative relationships with everyone in order to disseminate knowledge and raise awareness on civilisations, cultures and religions, and successfully counter extremism, racism, and hatred to achieve peace, and accord worldwide”, the Minister added.
Stressing that IGCF exemplifies the role of government communication in serving communities and humankind, Al Nahyan noted: “IGCF is an international platform through which we call on everyone to affirm that diversity and pluralism are creative forces that will help achieve development and stability. I also call for continuous work to shape and deepen people's awareness of the world they live in, assert noble human values and direct them towards the desired goals.”
Government communication must serve as the ‘caring face’ of official institutions In his keynote speech, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director General of SGMB, said the absence of communication nullifies physical existence noting that a person who does not communicate does not exist in life, and whoever communicates in the wrong way creates a distorted shadow of his existence.
Allay added: “Government communication is tantamount to giving life to the body that exercises it. Through it, the communicator shines light on their culture and vision and bolsters their presence in society. Therefore, this year's forum will deliberate the most prominent issues in the world and the prevailing concepts around it, aiming to confirm, correct or reformulate them.” He added: “Today, communication should be open to opposing possibilities and outcomes - big economic changes in some markets may mean crisis in other markets and societies. It also must serve as the ‘caring face’ of official institutions that leads people amid rapid changes and transformations by prompting stimulating thought and self-confidence, and unleashing the spirit of innovation and creativity.”
The SGMB Director General concluded: “Communication departments must also dedicate their programmes and campaigns to protect cultural diversity from attempts of being undermined or being unduly influenced by certain concepts or cultures, from which they did not originate. Here, we affirm that the balance between cultures and respecting diversity, privacy and boundaries of each culture constitute major guarantees for building balanced and sustainable relations between peoples.”
Green economy development pillars The next inspirational talk titled ‘Green Growth... Mechanisms for Making Decisions’, was led by Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico and Honorary Chairman of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Calderón stressed the importance of moving away from discussing the impact of climate change to discussing the opportunities arising from green economies and sustainable development, noting if government communication teams want to be more convincing, they should prove it with actions and not only words or promises.
“Although world leaders made many promises on climate change, many did not see the light of day, due to a dilemma of balancing development, addressing poverty and creating jobs, on the one hand, and reducing emissions and addressing climate change, on the other. Therefore, at the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, we found it is necessary to start promoting sustainability models and projects as potential opportunities to achieve future growth in various sectors,” he noted.
Calderón explained that the focus of green economy investment promotion should be three-pronged to include cities, agriculture and energy, stressing the importance for governments to communicate with their communities to shine light on the opportunities in them and the potential for more agile growth compared to the traditional energy sector.
On the first pillar, the former Mexican president said the population of cities around the world will reach 5 billion by 2030, which means that it will increase at a daily rate equivalent to Sharjah city’s entire population. He presented successful experiences of cities such as Laos in Nigeria, Philadelphia in the USA, which have achieved success in reducing emissions and achieving growth.
On agriculture, Calderón said: “Planting forests and optimising the use of the land achieve many economic and environmental benefits,” noting that the returns of forestry cultivation in South America and China range between 23-25%, in addition to the role of “these forests in supporting and strengthening eco-tourism”.
Tackling the question of energy, he said: “The use of sustainable energy systems based on solar and wind sources generated 6.5 million new jobs by the end of 2021, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), with opportunities to double that by 2030 to reach 13.4 million jobs.”
He pointed out that solar and wind energy projects will constitute 60% of the total energy projects in the world by 2030, especially after the cost of solar energy has witnessed a strong decline of more than 90% during the last 10 years.
He added: “During my presidency, we launched a campaign to replace old electric home appliances with newer and power-efficient ones, in addition to replacing 45 million lights with sustainable ones, which helped lower the Mexican electricity bill and helped create thousands of job opportunities.”
He concluded by stressing the importance of sustainability to avoid 700,000 fatalities due to air pollution, increasing the country's GDP, creating jobs, and mitigating the devastating environmental impacts and their repercussions on the world.
The opening ceremony proceedings also witnessed an inspiring talk by former Canadian PM, Kim Campbell, who asserted that good and impactful communication is characterised by not just what governments say but what they do. Saying that she was a firm believer in the proverb “actions speak louder than words”, Campbell added that IGCF is an action of the Sharjah Government to bring global leaders together to collectively find solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Mohammed Abdullah Al Qahtani, world champion speaker and author of The Power of Word, delivered the concluding inspiring talk of the morning titled, ‘Influential Leadership’, saying that people can only succeed in their endeavours when they are backed by a strong, inspiring leadership that believes in them and their potential.
Following the opening ceremony, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi and Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, toured the IGCF 2022 venue, learning from the organisers more about the key offerings of the two-day forum.
The power of collective human will in shaping a prosperous future for all The opening ceremony included a short film highlighting challenges the world faced this year, followed by a content creator Omar Farouq segment discussing the power of humanity's messages. A short film showcasing humanitarian initiatives and sporting accomplishments where humankind overcame challenges through solidarity and cooperation was played during the ceremony, followed by the “Rooh al Sharq'' coral that took to the stage to perform a segment highlighting humanity's dreams about prosperity and advancement. The IGCF 2022 opening ceremony was attended by senior government officials, members of the Sharjah Executive Council, senior diplomats, institutions, and media.