The second and last day of the seventh edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), opened with an inspiring session led by IGCF 2018’s Guest of Honour, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa, and HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB).
Moderated by Maqsoud Kruse, Executive Director of Hedayah Centre, Lech Walesa reiterated the messages and advices communicated by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, during his inaugural speech at IGCF 2018, underlining the importance of sustaining the traditional and cultural values and identity of a nation, when undergoing a series of changes in the Digital Age.
He also called on European countries to use Sharjah’s government communication experience as a role model, especially in the integration of modern tools when developing a leading government communication framework. During his address, Walesa outlined historical transformations that led to drastic changes in the world since the birth of the age of technology and machine.
He said: “The entire world has gone through the so-called ‘age of the word’, which referenced the age of information. As it continues to experience rapid change with technology, it has overwhelmed mankind’s connection with its traditional values and cultural identities.”
He stressed that a number of global communities and societies today, and especially in the European continent, are facing this challenge, which makes it imperative for European leaders to draw lessons from successful communication experiences, such as the one spearheaded by Sharjah and its integration with the Digital Age.
Walesa illustrated that many cultural and political elites around the world are tasked with the most vital of responsibilities when it comes to communication, and that is to contribute in developing a framework that creates a harmonious balance between cultural identities and modern thinking. He said: “Today, we notice the absence in such a role from such elites, and because of the abundance of such responsibilities, many civilisations are treating the transformational age of the digital era as a serious threat to their heritage and society.”
During his opening speech for the second day of IGCF 2018, HE Tariq Saeed Allay said: “During the first day of the 7th IGCF, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, gave us the opportunity to have a unique glance at the next phase of the digital revolution in Sharjah and the region. Since then we have raised questions about the readiness of governments to challenge digital-related issues, especially with how we deal with the growing developments which we experience everyday, and with how governments are being equipped to maintain open and engaging channels of communication with their people.”
He added: “This brings us back to what the Canadian philosopher and intellectual Marshall McLuhan said in the 1960s, when he chose the insightful phrase “Global Village“, highlighting his observation about all the changes that are taking place all around the world, and how it is affecting us today in real-time.”
Allay continued: “Today, we live in a digital village which has become a small house grouping together all the rapidly changing technological developments in the world. Despite of these changes’ pros and cons, many of us are trekking into the future and developing new technological advancements to help us best predict this future, which brings us to why we have chosen the slogan ‘Digital Millennium … Where To?’ as the theme for this year’s edition.”
Highlighting the tremendous changes in the digital age, and acceleration of ideas, Allay said: “The digital age and its tools and channels have a played a major role in forming ideas, concepts and people’s ways of life. This in return has influenced the patterns of many people’s lives as well as their communities, instigating new trends that allow us as government leaders to optimise our communication tools, to ensure an honest and transparent government communication model.”
During his speech, Allay expressed the importance of investing on social media communication channels and platforms, unveiling statistics that highlighted more than 4 billion active users are using the internet worldwide, which constituted more than half of the planet’s population. He continued by pointing that social media alone is home to more than 3 billion global users, which supported his call on all governments on the importance of investing on such tools under their communication framework for more effective, impactful and engaging results with citizens.