Focus on Climate Change Communication at IGCF 2017

Since 2012, Sharjah Media Center is organizing International Government Communication Forum under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. It was my great pleasure to attend this year’s IGCF when the focus was on Climate Change Communication! Here is a special report I brought to my readers straight from the hall, where the action was taking place!

Sustainability Tribe at Press Lounge at IGCF 2017

Sharjah’s focus on Environment

It was one of the most inspiring event I have attended in past couple of years in UAE and very appropriate it was in the Emirate of Sharjah, environmental capital of UAE! Sharjah never fails to delight it’s visitors either through it’s sustainable tourism efforts or environmental conservation efforts or it’s waste management infrastructure! Read here all about it.

The same efforts of sustainability were reflected in this year’s IGCF right from topics discussed during the forum to list of speakers from around the world; who are experts from all aspects of sustainability.

H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi

During the first session, in his speech H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi stated “I have put development of human being the core of Sharjah’s development; which is societal aspect of sustainability” He mentioned how it is important to give attention to education of youth but also to pay attention what youth is doing after they finish their education. He also talked about how Government of Sharajah is giving social security to people above 60 years. He stressed on society sustainability part saying, ” Those who want to develop their society they should concentrate on human being from birth to old age.”

Al Gore Speaking about Climate Change, are there real solutions?

The next session was about Real Solutions of Climate Change, a conversation with Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States,  Founder & Chairman, The Climate Reality Project. In this conversations Al Gore revealed many inconvenient truths.

Al Gore at IGCF 2017

When asked by H.E. Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, is climate change threat to United Nations peace security. Al Gore quickly mentioned ‘how climate change is already threatening stability and governance in the world by giving example of how Syria’s drought is destabilizing Europe.’

He also explained famous link between climate change & Arab Spring. ‘In 2010 Russia faced one the worst drought which killed around 55 thousand people there. Russia withdrew all grains from international market and food prices reached it’s peak world wide. It was difficult for people around the world & specially in developing countries to cope up with high food prices. When the man burnt himself in Tunisia, his last words where ‘how can I live?’. This incidence triggered Arab Spring.”

Al Gore’s most the speech was bold & even apocalyptic but the facts of climate change are equally dramatic! He mentioned, ‘ We need to move quickly and we need to move together’. If we don’t take actions now he even gave the scientific statistics , “Sharjah’s temperature will go up by 5 degree Celsius in next 75 years!”

He said, “If we don’t do anything, our kids will ask us ‘what you were doing?’ But I want them to ask us ‘How did you find the courage to rise up from the climate crisis?’. ”

While  talking about real solutions of climate change he mentioned our governments and private sector need to create jobs not only in renewables but also in retrofitting existing buildings and infrastructure to reduce waste of energy & other natural resources.

The Public and Private Sectors: Real Partnership towards Sustainable Development

The next session was a discussion about how public and private sector need to work together to overcome social & economic challenges to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If you don’t know what are SDGs read here.

 

John Defterios, CNNMoney Emerging Markets Editor started by saying, “It’s not sustainable that only governments taking initiative in sustainable development, that is why private sector comes in picture. Sustainability is long term and won’t see any short term gains. But in this region where there are many family owned businesses are present, they can implement sustainability as they tend to look at long term benefits.”

Dr. Jeffrey D Sachs, Director of Earth Institute– Columbia University criticized present political climate denial in US and praised UAE’s efforts in sustainable development and even Happiness Agenda where he is involved actively.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Yunus

In this panel discussion the most impressive ideas were discussed by Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank. He started of with a controversial statement saying “SDGs are just short term looking at the overall development of humanity” But then he explained his point very intelligently ” We need to look, can we retain SDGs even after 2030?” He stated ” In human history people are not looking for jobs, they are go getters, problem solvers! Who came up with this idea of becoming job seeker? We are meant to be entrepreneurs naturally. We need to focus on ‘how to design our society to make young people entrepreneurs, who are job creators”

While discussing government’s role in support young entrepreneurs, Dr. Yunus stated ” Government should distance itself from entrepreneur after providing them funds to start up. The entrepreneur should repay the funds to government. He also discussed the idea  Independent social business fund a self containing organization, which will act as partner not as investor.

While talking about climate change solutions, Dr. Yunus stated entrepreneurship is the way forward, we need entrepreneurs to think about new climate change solutions, come forward and implement those solutions through their new businesses.

Environment and Climate Change in Media Policies

This much needed session was moderated by Mark Schapiro, an author and an award-winning journalist, specializing in international environmental stories.

When asked about public-private partnership, H.E. Khaled Issa Al-Huraimel, CEO of Beeah explained benefits like legislation, strategies through government partnership is important. To my delight he even mentioned their ZeroWaste landfill ambition by recovering waste. He talked about their largest material recovery facility and upcoming waste to energy plant in partnership with Masdar.

When asked how EU decoupled the link between growth & fossil fuels? H.E. John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland & EU Ambassador to the US explained ” EU works in achieving climate change mitigation by setting targets for individual countries & penalizing them if they don’t meet the targets.” But he also mentioned some worries situation in EU, “Separation of waste has come down in EU is recent years & EU is loosing precious metals which should be recycled & reused.”

While answering how to communicate environmental truths to people H.E. John Bruton stated “There are 3 important things to remember 1. Repeat 2. Use role models to convey message 3. elite & poor don’t think same. Find out right language.”

When asked how do you communicate climate change to people here, H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE stated ” We are politicians we talk about finance, policy, technology side of climate change mitigation. We need media to transfer our message to public in right words. But unfortunately Media people just google technical papers & publish it.”

Safa’ Al Jayoussi, Founder of IndyACT, Head of Climate & Energy Campaign in Arab World mentioned how they have started investigation journalism in Arab world, which is an incredible job by IndyACT!

Using my reusable Stainless Steel Straw at Sharjah Expo Center. Keeping up with my #ZeroWasteUAE lifestyle, said no to plastic straw.

Read here is my recent article on Eco MENA about ‘Need of Sustainability Communication in Middle East’, which covers most of the topics discussed at IGCF.

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4 Comments on "Focus on Climate Change Communication at IGCF 2017"

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I really enjoy your updates Amruta. There really is loads of exciting change and innovative thinking towards Sustainability happening right now in the UAE.

Thank you for your report – we don’t hear nearly enough about sustainability and climate change in our society. so thank you for bringing it to a wider audience.

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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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