The pathway to adopting a broader approach to defining and curating content and debating the strategic role of communication in an age of radical technology disruption will be among the key discussion topics at the ninth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), scheduled to open in March 2020 in Sharjah.
The region’s leading forum on government communication is defining a new and ambitious strategy based on its identification of core principles about the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ of communication and is on its way to pioneering what the forum calls Beyond Communications.
Announcing the two-day event to be held on March 4 - 5, the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), a subsidiary of Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), and organisers of the international event said that the 2020 edition of IGCF will achieve its goal of making communication channels between governments and communities more effective by focusing on four core principles or pillars to guide communication teams.
These include Embedding a culture of engagement in government; Technology as a community enabler; Communication through culture; and Holistic well-being. By basing the forum’s discussions on these pillars, IGCF 2020 will look at how the core function of communication is penetrating all aspects of an organisation’s operations both internally and externally – now and into the future.
The 2020 edition will also mark the launch of IGCF Learn, a new capacity building platform offering multi-level multi-competency training, announced the organisers.
Featuring an extensive discussion agenda including panel discussions, inspirational speeches, workshops and interactive forums, speakers at the high-profile two-day global summit will include international media and PR stalwarts, policy experts, social entrepreneurs, and communications and technology experts.
Communication skills are life skills
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), emphasised that the major transformation in the upcoming edition is a reflection of the rapidly-changing global communications landscape itself, and a carefully-designed way forward for the forum’s discussions based on the previous editions’ accumulated experiences and accomplishments.
“Communication today is an integral underlying asset of any organisation,” he said. “It is not bound by topic, trends or time. Communication has evolved into an essential life skill especially as new breakthroughs are continuously being made in the way we communicate.”
Communication between government institutions and the general public helps build positive changes in communities as it empowers them to partner with governments to further the inclusive development goals of the country, he added.
Four pillars of effective communication
Elaborating on the four pillars that will be in focus at the 2020 IGCF edition in March, the organisers said that the first pillar, ‘Embedding a culture of engagement in government’ will focus on moving beyond the realms of one-way communication to opening a dialogue with the public using technologies that enable real-time communication and feedback. This will encourage the public to voice their opinions on economic, social, and cultural topics, as well as other key issues which can drive innovation as well as service development in real time.
The second pillar ‘Technology as a community enabler’, say the organisers, will focus on the digital revolution and how it has changed the way humans communicate with each other. The ninth edition of IGCF will shine light on new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) as it looks at new and innovative ways to take government communication to the next level.
Literature, art, music and sport are effective communication tools for sharing and expressing emotion, aspiration, values and inspiration. In the ‘Communication through culture’ pillar, the forum explore how cultural communication can enhance reputation and soft powers as well as improve bilateral and multilateral relations.
Through the 'Holistic well-being' pillar, IGCF will explore the role of effective communication in developing human behaviour and will discuss new approaches in communication to inform and raise awareness of lifestyle and work choices to facilitate better mental and physical health. A healthy society is a core component in the sustainable development agenda of every government, stressed the organisers.
Since its inception in 2012, the IGCF has been successful in enhancing government communication in the UAE and the Arab world and developing communication channels between governments and communities. The Forum was able to make a series of significant accomplishments over the last eight years, most notably establishing the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) and launching the Sharjah Government Communication Award (SGCA). It has also been able to enhance the abilities of government entities to better manage crises and face challenges, as well as develop training programmes for all government communication units and professionals in the Emirate of Sharjah and stimulate university students to specialise in government communication.