Sharjah: How to convert resources into wealth was the central theme during the inaugural session of the International Government Communication Forum held in Sharjah today.
His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the 12th edition of the Forum in the presence of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council ( SMC).
Hosted by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) at Expo Center Sharjah, the two-day forum has brought together more than 250 guests, thought leaders and innovators from around the world to share their ideas in more than 90 discussions key based on the forum topic “Nowadays”. Resources… The wealth of tomorrow’.
This year, the forum dialogues focus on how nations and governments can communicate and collaborate to utilize and optimize precious natural and man-made resources and convert them into sustainable wealth for future generations.
‘Thank you to the ruler of Sharjah’
“We meet again at the 12th annual IGCF, which continues to be a gathering of great minds, inspiring thoughts and innovation. We are here to shed light on an issue that is one of the most pressing of our times. So how can we turn resources into wealth in reality? Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed asked during his inaugural address.
“People in ancient Egypt, for example, faced long famines when their wheat production declined. Thus they came up with an innovative plan to preserve wheat in silos. I present this example because it is the story of the triumph of a natural resource, wheat, and a human resource, brilliant minds who devised an innovative solution to preserve wheat. In Sharjah, the UAE’s food security agenda is being driven by the visionary approach of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, who appointed agricultural engineers and formed a team of experts, led hundreds of field visits and research activities to locate the most suitable plot. of land in the desert for wheat production and launched sufficient wheat production as one of our emirate’s food security initiatives,” he said.
“And on March 20 this year, we tried Sharjah’s first loaf of wheat bread.”
‘Lack of resources… or management?’
During his keynote address, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director General of SGMB, highlighted the world’s challenges in terms of wealth and resources, noting that the world faces a major challenge not in the scarcity of resources but in their effective management and investment.
He said: “Considering all these facts, the central role of government communication becomes clear: to shape and forge the path of change. We know that policies, plans and solutions will remain on paper if they are not transformed into conscious practices within communities and daily behaviors that align ambitions and objectives with implementation. Therefore, we come together at the IGCF to reinforce the role of government communication in raising awareness among people and communities, to forge the path of change.”
The UAE’s green projects
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Chairperson of the UAE Food Security Council, said:
“The UAE’s approach to sustainability is pragmatic. We want to get to a point where when we use our last barrel of oil, we celebrate the day, we don’t worry. Projects like Masdar City feature giant solar stations, and we plan to triple our renewable energy production by 2030. The UAE was also the first nation to not only endorse the Paris Climate Agreement, but also launch the Net Zero strategic initiative of the United Arab Emirates by 2050. To achieve this, the country has committed to reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030.”
“The seven emirates are working together to protect our enormous biodiversity, our endangered species and build the world’s largest coral incubator. Once completed, it will be a 300,000 m2 incubator. We are also increasing our mangrove cover to fight carbon emissions. Our Mangrove Climate Alliance, which has 17 global partners replicating the UAE’s experience in growing its local mangrove cover, has achieved great success so far,” he added.
“Through COP28, we want to achieve one goal: to protect the Earth with concrete measures and leave a legacy by encouraging attendees to sign our Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production,” the minister further said.
Call to compassion
Frank Caprio, the celebrated American judge known as “The Kindest Judge in the World,” delivered a message of compassion during the opening proceedings. “This is the largest government communications event in the world and I thank the Ruler of Sharjah for inviting me here. “This is a land of mercy and compassion, 11,000 miles from my home in Rhode Island, USA, where I have tried to promote the same values in my 40-year career,” he said.
“When I began practicing law, I quickly realized that a little compassion when dealing with traffic violators went a long way toward making a sustainable positive impact on their civic actions. The most frequent question I get asked today is: How did you become that judge that 200 million people see on social media? The answer is that I have always tried to put myself in the shoes of the person whose case I am judging. “Our world is driven by hate and conflict, and we need a lot of compassion, empathy, and acts of kindness every day to create a better one,” Capiro added.
“The role of government is to help people and not harm them. It is crucial to understand the role of direct communication between public servants, on behalf of the government, and the people, in a way that directly responds to their needs. Justice is always done by implementing a fair judicial procedure. As a judge, he wore a robe as necessary, but he did not wear any badge underneath. I carried a heart. Ultimately, we are all judges. And how we judge those around us will make a difference in the lives we touch.”
‘We need a transformation of the food system’
Vandana Shiva, the Indian environmental activist, researcher and food sovereignty advocate, gave an inspiring speech titled “Charting a Hunger-Free World”.
She said: “Food is a basic need, not only for human beings but for all life. It is also the most important world currency. The web of life is, in fact, a food web, which when disrupted leads to a double crisis: a human crisis in which a large number of people do not have food and an even greater number do not have food suitable for consumption . Monocultures, excessive use of chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are destroying our ecology and causing a gradual collapse of our planetary borders. All this is leading us to extinction.”
“A dysfunctional food system is at the core of the chronic disease pandemic. We are losing billions of dollars annually due to cancer, diabetes, infertility and birth defects. Because there is a deep connection between the health of our gut, our brain, and how we grow our food. We need a transformation of the food system and teach successive generations how to protect the health of our Earth by producing food in a regenerative way, not in a way that worsens climate change,” the activist stressed.
‘Regardless of gender or literacy, we can make positive change’
Yolande Randrianambinina, a 57-year-old grandmother and Madagascar’s “solar queen,” shared her extraordinary story of bringing clean, solar-powered electricity to more than 200 homes in her community in Madagascar for the first time in 2017.
“I come from a very isolated town in Madagascar. I am a solar trainer and I run an organization that protects the environment, particularly mangroves. The women I work with received a six-month training on biodiversity conservation in India and learned how they could help bring electricity to our village by using clean energy resources. Today we have reduced our energy consumption by half. More than 200 members of our community trained as solar technicians in India and returned to install solar lights in their homes,” she said.
“Today we have our own training program in Madagascar ‘Enrich’, where students learn solar energy science, literacy, sports and other things. I encourage women to actively participate. Regardless of gender or literacy, we can bring positive changes to the community,” she added.
A short film showing the theme of the IGCF was screened during the opening ceremony, vividly describing the possible consequences if humanity were to neglect its resources and the challenges that could arise if individuals abandoned their responsibility to protect the Earth and its wealth.
The IGCF opening ceremony was hosted by “Al Arabiya” media personality Mohammed AlTomaihi and featured two notable figures: environmental activist and UNICEF Ambassador for the Climate Change Conference (COP 28), Ghaya al-Ahbabi, known as the “Green Girl” and Ghumaila Alketbi.
In an engaging conversation with AlTomaihi, these young women shared their visions for the future, their aspirations and their commitment to contribute to the goals and aspirations of the Emirate of Sharjah and the United Arab Emirates.
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Minister Mariam bint Mohammed
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Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed
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