National Commissions of the World to benefit from "The Elan of Shanghai"
Shanghai, China, 13-15 June 2016
Youth and the prevention of violent extremism, protection of common heritage in the event of armed conflict and natural disasters and the all-encompassing role of the 2030 Agenda were the main issues tackled by the assembly of National Commissions for UNESCO held in Shanghai this week.
More than 150 participants, coming from some 130 countries, met for the third annual meeting of this kind. A variety of speakers, including Heads of regional field offices of UNESCO, discussed global issues and local experiences in a collective effort to develop and better position the programmes of National Commissions.
The meeting was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, headed by its Secretary-General Du Yue, and the Mayor’s Office of Shanghai, who hosted the meeting and provided the logistical support.
Vice-Minister of Education Hao Ping, Chairperson of the Chinese National Commission and former President of the General Conference, spoke at the Opening Ceremony and underlined the many activities linking China and UNESCO. He referred in particular to the participation of the Director-General last week in the ceremony of the new Chinese-supported Prize for Women and Girls Education and in the UNESCO Creative Cities Beijing Summit. He said: "All these activities demonstrate the improved cooperation with UNESCO. It also testifies that China, through the important platform of UNESCO, is promoting ideals of peace, improving the well being of humankind and building a common community of human destiny".
The three day meeting provided a rare opportunity for the National Commissions to renew their shared commitment and offered a unique platform for reflection and action. It resulted in a concrete series of pledges, as well as specific proposals for consideration in the upcoming programme of work.
During the closing ceremony Mr Eric Falt, UNESCO Assistant Director General for External Relations, alluded to the "Elan of Shanghai", whereby the network of National Commissions for UNESCO will benefit from renewed vigor and enthusiasm following the three day conference. "Above all, what we need to retain from our discussions is the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for our plan of action in the coming years. It will require an important shift in our mindset", he said.
As one regional group of National Commissions pointed out, the SDGs provide for the first time a plan for all countries to participate on the same level, a clear break with the Millennium Development Goals, where developed countries acted principally as donors for development. A new set of relationships will now have to developed for North-South and South-South cooperation and support. Partnerships will be key.
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