Gerd Müller: "A powerful tool for more opportunity, freedom and progress"

German Development Minister Gerd Müller discusses the close link between education and participation, calling access to online technologies key to promoting democratic principles

German Development Minister Gerd Müller
(PresseBox) ( Bonn, Germany, )
At Deutsche Welle's international media congress in Bonn, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said better advantage should be taken of the participatory and educational opportunities available in today's digital world, especially in developing countries. His speech addressed the main theme of this year's Global Media Forum, "From Information to Participation - Challenges for the Media", taking place through July 2 at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB).

"The digital era is causing even more radical change than the Industrial Revolution," said Müller. "Information travels around the world within seconds capable of both triggering revolutions, as well as simply providing practical support in everyday life. We haven't yet fully recognized the effect and impact this has on our lives." The German politician added that the digital age is also transforming the media sector, particularly in developing countries. "People in many parts of the world are still being denied their fundamental right to information. The Internet thwarts censorship and facilitates participation in society. These are opportunities that should be seized."

Development Minister Müller told the audience of his recent trip to Nigeria, where he visited a girls' school in mid-June. "The terror being spread by Boko Haram in the north is so far-reaching that even the girls at this school in the south live in fear of the terrorists who violently oppose education and Westernization," Müller told Deutsche Welle. "Nonetheless, the students made it clear that their most fervent wish was for computers. Despite all adversity, they want to take part in this interconnected world."

The example makes clear that education and participation are inextricably linked. Müller is convinced that, "the global electronic network can be a powerful tool for increasing opportunity, freedom and progress." It is appropriate that the conference is addressing these related issues now, he added, because "for many people, especially in developing countries, access to communication technologies is the key to democratic participation in political decision-making processes." Müller noted that this is also the aim of his ministry's online campaign to formulate a charter for the future. Called "ONE WORLD - Our Responsibility," it seeks to involve all elements of society - social organizations, the private business sector, academia and policy-makers - to establish a new global set of goals with which "we all take joint responsibility for our future and for the outlook of future generations."

From information to participation

Germany's Development Minister Gerd Müller spoke today at the 2014 Global Media Forum, an annual three-day conference hosted by the Deutsche Welle, this year for the seventh time. Its 40 separate events concern topics related to the opportunities and risks posed by the digital world and their impacts on people's lives.

Other guest speakers at the conference are author and Internet visionary

Jeff Jarvis and CEO of Axel Springer SE Mathias Döpfner, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Egyptian political satirist Bassem Youssef, Internet activist Emma Ruby-Sachs and WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison.

International partners and co-hosts

The 2014 Global Media Forum is held in cooperation with many national and international partners, such as Amnesty International, Deutsche Telekom, the Grimme-Institut, NATO, the United Nations, the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications and Voices of Africa. The conference is co-hosted by the Foundation for International Dialogue of the Sparkasse Savings Bank in Bonn. Support is also kindly provided by Germany's Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the City of Bonn. Cooperation partner is The Right Livelihood College Campus Bonn.

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