“Much room remains for the future of development communication in Asia” is the view of Professor John Lent, speaker in the UNESCO Emeritus Dialogue at AMIC’s 2013 international conference.

A veteran specialist in the field of Asian development communication, Professor Lent, of Temple University, USA, said that poverty in Asia had not dropped as much as had been hoped and that most of the world’s chronically malnourished live in the Asia-Pacific region. He said that small communication projects initiated by communities to address poverty issues at the grassroots level are still important.

The UNESCO Emeritus Dialogue was held as the first plenary session at the AMIC 2013 conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (4th-7th July). The topic for discussion was Development Communication and the New Asia: still a role?

Another speaker, Chin Saik Yoon, Southbound Press publisher from Malaysia, asked about the role of development communication 50 years hence. “What will be the ‘new poverty’ for Asia in 2052?” he asked.

According to Mr. Chin, the main future issues relate to climate change and sustainable development. He talked of consumption patterns and contended that “we may have to admit our messages in the past were wrong.” Given the long-term implications of climate change, Mr. Chin said that “solutions may take two or three generations to complete”. In the future, there will be no more “personal gain” messages he believes. He offered the view that messages will have to play on altruism and that people will have to accept that “you do this so your great-grandchildren will still have water to drink.”

Long-term Philippines development communication expert, Professor Crispin Maslog, reinforced the view that “development communication still has a place in the world while there is poverty”. Similar views were held by other UNESCO Emeritus Dialogue speakers, Professor Alwi Dahlan from Indonesia, and Professor Binod Agrawal from India.

In a world of new technologies where poverty is still widespread, “we have to recapture our humanity” Professor John Lent reminded the audience.