Irina Bokova: "a new cultural economy is emerging"
On the second day of her official visit to Poland, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova met with several members of the government in the areas of competence of the Organization.
At a ceremony held in the premises of the Polish Academy of Sciences for the inauguration of the West Polesie Biosphere Reserve, and in the presence of the Undersecretary of State for the Environment, Mr. Janusz Zaleski, the Director-General emphasized the role of Poland in the field of international scientific cooperation. With the West Polesie Reserve, managed jointly by Ukraine and Belarus and with the support of Japan, Poland has the largest number of transboundary biosphere reserves, two of the world’s four tri-lateral reserves.
Both the Director General and the Polish Minister for the Environment Mr. Marcin Korolec highlighted the need for capacity building in science and research, in line with the recommendations of the Rio + 20 Conference, especially in the areas of biodiversity, ocean and water management. Poland is affected by periodic flood events and pays great attention to the issue of water quality. UNESCO and Poland can cooperate more in this area, in preparation for 2013, the International Year of Water Cooperation.
"Poland is growing quickly and taking its place among donor countries. This country can share its experience and expertise with the world and invest in many areas, from the sharing of scientific data, the preservation of heritage to supporting democratic transformation and countries in transition,” said the Director-General during her meetings, notably with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Maciej Szpunar. The latter welcomed the efforts to reposition UNESCO within the United Nations as the best way to respond to emerging trends in the world.
Taking the example of the situation in Asia, the Director-General noted the strategic choice of many countries to focus on culture as one of the pillars of sustainable development. "A new economy of culture is emerging. We can have low growth, no growth, or negative growth, but experience shows also that we can have growth with unemployment, which is not necessarily better. The culture sector provides part of the answer to this dual problem”. In support of these remarks, the Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski highlighted the deep investments made in the country, with the support of EU funds to modernize Poland's cultural infrastructure and build museums, theaters, concert halls and art schools. Discussions followed on the case of India, where the film industry is considered the country’s second strategic industry after steel, and also China, where craft is a substantial force of development.
At the working dinner with the Deputy Mayor of the city of Cracow in charge of culture, which was held in the new medieval museum built underground, the Director-General underlined the creative dynamism of the country's second city. "Culture nourishes culture -- Cracow is the city of new technologies and software, and one of the most modern sites of film post-production in Europe, a city with 200,000 students, a city of contemporary art, a music center, the city of three winners of the Nobel Prize in literature ... "
"We are seeing the emergence of new creative societies and UNESCO’s role is to help realize this reality and fully exploit this potential." Poland, which has shown its strong commitment to culture, by rebuilding stone by stone the historic center of Warsaw razed during the Second World War, can play a unique role in promoting this message. Culture is a source of dignity, identity and confidence in the future. "This is the message of Polish history, and this is the message of UNESCO," concluded the Director-General.