Brandt School students at the Global Media Forum 2013

by: Tashi Phuntsho

The sixth edition of the Global Media Forum, an international conference hosted by Deutsche Welle, was held at the World Conference Center Bonn, Germany, from the 17th to the 19th of June, 2013. The theme of these three days conference was “The Future of Growth – Economic Values and Media” and it brought together more than 2500 participants from over 100 different countries including academicians, scientists, politicians, environmentalists, human rights activists, political activists, business leaders, media representatives etc., and amongst these group of participants were also five students of the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy who were invited by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

Highly acclaimed Prof.  Avram Noam Chomsky, renowned Dr. Vandana  Shiva, and Mr. Guido Westerwelle the Foreign Minister of Federal Republic of Germany were the keynote speakers for each day of the three days of the conference. Apart from the keynote speeches and plenary sessions, the conference offered about  50 different workshops on range of contemporary topics of global relevance such as ‘Skills for Sustainable Growth Through Networking’, ‘Reform of the UN and the World Economy’, ‘Beyond GDP: Inclusive Measures of Economic Progress’, ‘Business and Human Rights: Overcoming Information Gaps’.

The discussions of the conference focused on the need to rethink our economic values beyond profit, and the need to redefine growth beyond the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).  The conference participants were almost in a unanimous agreement that the GDP growth, which is a popular yardstick to measure growth, does not represent actual growth because the GDP doesn’t take into account the wellbeing and development of people, and also people do not necessarily receive dividends of the GDP growth in actuality. Therefore, the challenge ahead is how to ascertain growth that encompasses human growth and development, the wellbeing of people and to ensure the dividend of GDP growth to the people.  Also extensively discussed was  the challenges faced by media, such as maintaining their independence and providing correct information, the role of media in future of growth, and the role of media in enhancing human rights.  We realized while attending the conference that the curricula at the Willy Brandt School was very much relevant  to contemporary global issues discussed in at the global forum, and this made it much easier for us to actively participate in the discussions and the Q & A sessions instead of only passively participating.

Apart from the serious discussion at the conference during the day, the evenings were always relaxed with activities such as a boat ride along river Rhine, parties and live music where the participants could freely mix and engage in casual conversations. The conference was thought provoking, inspiring and of course a great opportunity for learning and networking.