The UNESCO General Conference at its 27th session assigned to the Organization a co-ordinating role for UNESCO's initiatives on the Mediterranean, falling within UNESCO's fields of competence. The Director General has decided to decentralize it to Cairo making it the first major Mediterranean Programme operating from the heart of the Arab world.
The Programme also concentrates on the promotion of three closely linked emblematic activities, conceived as networks:
- The Navigation of Knowledge, Network of Historical Naval Dockyards;
- The Network of Protected Areas, Parks and Gardens of the Mediterranean;
- The Network of Handicrafts.
Apart from these working fields, it also insists upon the necessary struggle against digital divide and negative stereotypes in education.
The Programme is developing around the following major concerns:
- promotion of inter-cultural dialogue;
- fostering a culture of peace;
- laying foundations for sustainable co-development.
It is guided by the Recommendations of the 1982 World Conference on Cultural Policies in Mexico City and by the principles set out in documents such as the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Convention on Climate Change or the 1995 Carthage Charter on Tolerance in the Mediterranean. It is also guided by the conclusions of the World Commission on Culture and Development (Our Creative Diversity, 1995), and of the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm, 1998). And it anchores the principles of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by UNESCO in 2001. Furthermore a new Cultural Policies for Development programme was approved last autumn by UNESCO’s 30th General Conference.