"Culture. Education. Media - Shaping a Sustainable World" - this is the theme of the 2012 Global Media Forum, organized by Deutsche Welle. Guests from around 100 countries will discuss global problems and solutions.
"Education is one of the most vital elements of globalization," says Deutsche Welle's Director General Erik Bettermann. Making education accessible is one of the key questions facing media and politics experts from Monday to Wednesday (June 25-27) at the fifth Global Media Forum (GMF) organized by DW in Bonn, Germany.
The topic is especially relevant to DW, since, as DW Editor-in-Chief Ute Schaeffer points out, "information and education are at the core of the German broadcaster's global operations."
There are 800 million illiterate people in the world, according to an estimate by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Yet at the same time, the world has become an information-based society that "makes knowledge available to us everywhere and any time at the click of a mouse," said Bettermann. That puts the media in a position of responsibility, he explained: "It plays an important role as an educational tool."
No dialogue without education
Bettermann argues that out of all the basic human needs in a globalized world, culture and education are the key to peaceful coexistence, development and intercultural dialogue.
Roland Bernecker, Secretary General of UNESCO's German commission, the patron of this year's GMF, shares this view. "Press freedom, quality education and cultural diversity are the central elements of strong and free civil societies," he said.
One of the most prominent guests at the forum is German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is to speak on the role of partnership and dialogue in the globalized world. Another major political participant is former Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie.
The academic perspective on these vital world issues is to be provided by Thomas Pogge, professor of philosophy and international affairs at Yale University, and Franz Josef Radermacher, professor of informatics at Germany's Ulm University and member of global think tank Club of Rome.
Opportunities for debate will also be provided by the round 50 sessions and workshops, run by experts from various organizations and companies.
Among them, UNESCO is addressing the issue of cultural diversity as a driving force behind sustainable development in the Arab world, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is asking whether universities can be agents of change, while human rights education and sexual self-determination will be dealt with by the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR).
The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Development Institute (DIE) will shed light on the intercultural dialogue on the challenges of global governance.
"We are neither a straightforward media conference, nor a political conference, nor an academic conference," said GMF manager Ralf Nolting. "Instead, we bring people together and let them consider solutions to global problems."
All the participants share the view that the media plays a decisive role in raising awareness about problems and conveying solutions. This is why, says Nolting, the Global Media Forum has become a success story.
Author: Ulrike Mast-Kirschning / ew
Editor: Ben Knight