The second day of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) 2023, organized by the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, featured discussions by global experts from the UAE, Japan, and Switzerland, highlighting the pivotal role of diplomacy, cooperation, and communication in tackling intricate global issues.
The session titled “UAE & Japan: Cross-Cultural Education in a Globalised World” delved into the intersection of diplomacy, culture, and education. Diplomats and education leaders from Japan and Sharjah shared insights on enhancing their collaborative educational efforts. Japan’s education system, renowned for its emphasis on human capital, has opened its doors to Emirati students, fostering cultural exchange and educational opportunities between the two nations.
Ambassador Akio Isomato of Japan to the UAE noted that Japan has welcomed over 700 UAE students into its colleges and universities through the J-MENA (Study in Japan Global Network Project in Middle East & North Africa) initiative, primarily focusing on students from the Middle East and Africa, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Japanese educational institutions have also expanded their English-language programs, making education in Japan more accessible to international students.
The educational collaboration extends beyond higher education, encompassing high school exchange programs aimed at fostering cultural understanding and exposing students to diverse perspectives. One such exchange program, Shokuiku or food education, teaches the significance of food culture in Japan. Emirati students are learning about Japanese culture and language in their home schools, and some continue their education in Japan.
Ambassador Isomato emphasized the foundational role of education and human capital in nation-building, stating, “Education and human capital are the foundations upon which nations are built.”
Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, Sharjah, highlighted the UAE’s commitment to education and emphasized the importance of global cooperation. He underscored the leadership’s focus on promoting language learning between Arabic and Japanese to enhance collaboration and cultural appreciation.
Dr. Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Private Education Authority, highlighted Sharjah’s transformative approach to education, combining international best practices with local elements to provide diverse educational choices and foster holistic student development.
The second session, titled “Scarcity in the midst of abundance: Deciphering the water security paradox,” tackled the global water crisis and underscored the critical role of diplomacy in addressing water-related challenges. Switzerland, known as “The Water Tower of Europe” due to its abundant water resources, shared insights into the impact of climate change on water security and the importance of early action and international cooperation.
Ambassador Arthur Mattli of Switzerland to the UAE and Kingdom of Bahrain explained that despite its water wealth, Switzerland is already experiencing the effects of climate change, including reduced winter snowfall and anticipates a 30 to 40 percent decrease in water availability during summer months in the future. Climate change-induced extreme weather events and rising sea levels further exacerbate water security issues.
Switzerland advocates for “Blue Diplomacy” and cross-border collaboration to address these challenges. Sharing data and fostering political will were identified as essential components of addressing the global water crisis. Ambassador Mattli emphasized the importance of raising awareness, particularly among younger generations, to drive changes in social behavior and water use culture.
Ambassador Mattli stated, “We must act now to manage water resources effectively to avoid dire consequences. With the knowledge we are armed with, it is our duty to take care of the next generations and empower them for the best preparedness.”