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IGCF 2017 concludes in Sharjah on high note with issue of recommendations to support achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals

Baku, March 25, AZERTAC

The sixth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) themed ‘Societal Participation…Comprehensive Development’, held under the patronage of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, concluded yesterday (March 23) at Expo Centre Sharjah, with the issue of a set of recommendations aimed at activating community participation in the achievement of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Convening more than 2,500 local, regional and international attendees, the Forum witnessed the participation of high-level officials from 16 countries and included five keynote speeches, seven main sessions, six parallel discussion sessions, five accompanying workshops and three interactive sessions. The list of participants included world statesmen, five UAE ministers, two Nobel Peace Prize laureates and representatives of international organisations and public and private-sector officials. Day one of IGCF 2017 saw the announcement of winners of the fourth Sharjah Government Communication Award.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, said: “The end of each edition of IGCF marks a new beginning for the further advancement of government communication. Today, our efforts to develop a vital communication ecosystem are closer to accomplishment than ever before, due to the recommendations and insights of the international experts that we’ve hosted throughout this two-day Forum.”

He added: “We thank everyone who contributed to making IGCF’s sixth edition a grand success, including sponsors, volunteers, and committee members who supported the Forum’s work mechanisms and offered valuable assistance to the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) in achieving the Forum’s objective of realising Sharjah’s vision for government communication.”

Jawaher Al Naqbi, Manager of the International Government Communication Forum, unveiled the recommendations of IGCF’s sixth edition.

The Forum recommended establishing scientific, cultural and spiritual centres for children and the youth to build responsible personalities who are committed to advancing their country’s interests and social participation.

Secondly, it endorsed devising executive programmes to provide care for the elderly and ensure an environment that meets their needs.

A third recommendation was to enhance education, support scientific research programmes, and build capacities and skills that are vital to achieve the comprehensive development goals.

Fourthly, IGCF 2017 recommended the establishment of a joint Arab committee to support and launch initiatives that stimulate government communication programmes aiming to enhance the efforts of Arab countries towards sustainable development.

IGCF 2017 also called for active societal participation by families, schools, and media outlets in initiating progressive programmes to achieve the sustainable development of societies. In addition, the Forum called for the reinforcement of the media’s role as a supporter of sustainable development programmes and human values. It encouraged the participation of people with disabilities in programmes and initiatives to achieve sustainable development in order to better integrate minority segments into mainstream society.

The Sharjah Children Shura Council session suggested embedding a smart alarm on the front doors of houses that would notify residents when exiting the premises about any electrical units that are still in use. Another recommendation of the dedicated session this year was to extend support to productive families in poorer countries, rather than offering direct financial assistance to the governments of these countries. Lastly, the children participating in IGCF 2017 proposed establishing a Children’s Education Charity Fund to support the education of poor children across the world.

For its part, the interactive session for people with disabilities emphasised the need to teach sign language in schools to enable all individuals within a society to communicate with one another. It also recommended issuing the Emirates Code (UAE standard code for the comprehensive environment) for people, institutions and society.

Meanwhile, the Youth Council stressed the pressing need for government entities to familiarise themselves with the most common communication platforms and smart applications among the youth in order to converse better with them. In addition, it highlighted the significance of including community hours as part of regular working hours at government offices – an initiative that will allow the youth to play their role in becoming change agents and delivering a positive impact in society.

The general recommendations of IGCF 2017 also included initiating conversation with government communication directorates at the level of the Arab region to form an Arab network of government communication based in Sharjah with representative offices across all member countries. Moreover, the Forum reiterated the importance of putting in place innovative and modern methods to survey Arab public opinion and public perception on government communication campaigns. The Forum articulated that in order for government communication campaigns to be more influential, they should enhance their presence across and utilisation of multiple social media platforms.

The Forum also called for launching a set of specialised training programmes for government communication professionals to equip them with the newest trends and tools in their field. It stressed the need to give them more flexibility in interacting with the public through social media platforms. Finally, several participating experts called for the launch of “development circles” to be held throughout the year to follow up on the public discourse about SDGs.

In the domains of environment and climate change, the Forum produced two main recommendations. The first is the need to increase numbers of media officers specialised in environment and climate change across all media platforms, in parallel with broader media coverage for these key issues and more regular in-depth training for dedicated media personnel. The second recommendation mandates transparency as a standard approach by all entities responsible for government communication in order to address relevant environmental challenges and crises effectively. This will also help transform public perception from skeptical to supportive of the efforts of governments to achieve strategic goals.

Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) honoured the 27 speakers and 7 moderators who took part in the Forum, as well as participants in the Green Chair Initiative and the 28 sponsors, including the United Nations Foundation, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Sharjah Children Centres, Bee’ah Company, Emirates Youth Council, Big Heart Foundation, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), National Media Council, Dubai Media Incorporated, Abu Dhabi Media Company, Sharjah Media Corporation, Dar Al Khaleej for Press, Printing, and Publishing, Gulf News, Sky News Arabia, Al Arabiya Channel, BBC, New York Times, Newsweek magazine, The Business Year, Oxford Business Group, Motivate Group, INC magazines, Sharjah 24, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Emirates Airlines, Arabian Gulf Mechanical Centre, and Expo Centre Sharjah, in addition to the 9 supporters of the Forum including Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, Sharjah Civil Defence, Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Police, Sharjah General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Sharjah Department of Government Relations, Sharjah Medical District, Al Qassimi Hospital, Kuwait Hospital, and Al Zahraa Hospital.

The topics discussed in the sixth edition of the International Government Communication Forum reflect the pioneering role of Sharjah and the wider UAE in enhancing the role of government communication in supporting government efforts across all sectors to ensure a brighter future for coming generations.

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