UN Roundtable on Communication for Development opens in Rome
Sharing knowledge to achieve consensus for action
6 September 2004, Rome -- Communication for sustainable development is the main focus of the ninth UN Roundtable on Communication for Development which opens today at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Other topics include communication and natural resource management; communication in research, extension and education; and communication for isolated and marginalized groups.
Studies and background papers on development communication will be presented by experts from international organizations, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands.
The presentations will be followed by debates during which participants will contribute to the ideas, share examples and lessons learned from their own field experiences, consider appropriate actions at community level and identify areas for collaboration.
"Communication strategies at community level are essential for sustainable development," according to FAO expert in communication Jean-Pierre Ilboudo. "Fighting land degradation and desertification, halting deforestation, managing water resources and protecting biodiversity all require the participation of rural communities."
Sharing of knowledge
Communication for development is not a top-down process of messages being transmitted from a sender to a receiver. A typical example is when communities use tools such as posters, pamphlets, radio and television programmes to raise awareness and spread information about problems such as HIV/AIDS, and how people can protect themselves.
The development communication process should be seen as a sharing of knowledge with the aim of reaching a consensus for action that takes into account the interests, needs and capacities of all concerned, according to a background paper prepared for the Roundtable.
The full involvement of local communities is critical, the paper says, stressing the need for a participatory approach that respects cultural diversity.
Conclusions, recommendations and a final declaration will be issued at the closing ceremony of the Roundtable on Thursday 9 September.
The UN Roundtable on Communication for Development is an informal forum which provides strategic direction and input for development communication programmes. Every two years it brings together UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, NGOs, scholars and development communication experts from around the world.
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