World Communication Congress opens in Rome
Speeding development through communication
25 October 2006, Rome – The vital role played by communication in development will be highlighted at a three-day conference, which opened at FAO headquarters today. Attended by 500 delegates including policy-makers, academics and media professionals, the meeting is jointly organized by FAO, the World Bank and The Communication Initiative partnership, and is hosted by the Government of Italy.
In an opening speech to the First World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD), FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf told delegates that communication and sustainable development are closely bound. “They are different facets of the same endeavour ... reaching across and bringing people closer together,” he said.
Effective communication is a two-way process, he continued. “It is a dialogue, not a lecture. It implies all participants having a voice."
The rapid advance of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) was speeding economic growth across the world and creating a global marketplace, Dr Diouf said. But, he noted, the very pace at which the new frontiers were advancing risked widening the gap between those with access to cell phones and the internet and the one billion of the world’s population without.
“By extension the danger is to further widen the divide between all those who eat three meals a day and the 854 million who count themselves lucky to get one,“ he warned.
Together with the new frontier of ICTs, more traditional media such as radio, video, film, music and theatre were also important in spreading knowledge and promoting development, Dr Diouf said. Effective communications had the potential to change the lives of millions by “planting the seeds of knowledge, and hope, among the world’s poor,” he concluded.
The conference will examine the role of communication in speeding progress in the specific fields of poverty reduction, food security, health, governance and sustainable development.
It will illustrate the wealth of innovative and creative communications work now taking place and urge that a communications component be included in all new development projects.
Delegates to the conference include the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister, Francesco Rutelli, while World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Nobel Economics Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz will be joining in by videoconference.
The Congress is due to end on Friday, 27 October, after approving a set of concrete recommendations for policy-makers, development practitioners, donor and NGO representatives and communication professionals.
Media Relations, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53762
e-mail this article