05.09.2012 - ODG

The Director-General takes part in the Economic Forum in Krynica (Poland)

© UNESCO/Matthieu Guevel -UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova speaking at the 22nd Economic Forum held in Krynica-Poland, with Berbadette Segol, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation and Janusz Lewandowski, budget and financial programming commissioner - European Commission, September 2012

© UNESCO/Matthieu Guevel -UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met the President of Poland Mr. Bronislaw Komorowski on the sidelines of the 22nd Economic Forum, September 2012.

The Economic Forum, held in Krynica (Poland) opened on Tuesday, 4 September, under the theme of finding solutions to end the crisis in Europe and the world. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova participated in the overall opening session, attended by the President of Poland and the President of Croatia.

The President of Poland Mr. Bronislaw Komorowski recalled the meaning and importance of the European project, an attractive model for millions of people worldwide. "The desire many people have to join the European Union or to establish cooperation with it should give us confidence in our own strength to overcome the crisis,” said the President. "The current crisis is a test of our commitment to the European project, and a call to intensify our efforts to maintain our level of development," he added, recalling the experience and the sacrifices of Eastern European countries in this regard.

The general debate highlighted the importance of the human factor in triggering and resolving crises. "The first strength of Europe is in its citizens," said the President of Croatia Ivo Josipović. Bernadette Segol, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation, called for a new model of solidarity and protection in Europe as one of the sources of strength in the continent "for the 25 million unemployed in Europe, we do not only need a vision, we need concrete action”.

The Director-General Irina Bokova intervened to recall the role of training, quality education and intellectual capital to manage crises. In a global economy increasingly dominated by knowledge and access to knowledge, improving the quality of public education is vital for prosperity and social inclusion. Several convergent data highlight how countries that have developed most rapidly are those who have invested in education and health, recalled the Director-General, citing the experience of South Korea. Going back to the history of the European project, she emphasized that the main factors of development are no longer coal and steel as they were at the time of the fathers of Europe, but social and intellectual capital.

"The Rio +20 Conference reaffirmed the need to better integrate the three dimensions for sustainability -- economic, social and environmental. One solution is to invest more in the quality of education, science, research and development." Based on the latest figures from UNESCO’s World Report on Science, the Director-General referred to the changes occurring in the global landscape of scientific investment. The share of investment in research and development in relation to global wealth has increased from 1.70% in 2002 to 1.77% in 2009. More significantly, this growth has accelerated in the past two years despite the financial crisis. "The world is investing in science, with the belief that this investment holds the key to the future." Yet Europe - which still accounts for nearly a quarter of global investment in R&D - is not sufficiently involved in this growth, which is mainly undertaken Asia and China, whose share of scientific investments in the world increased from 5% to 9% during the same period.

"We must pay greater attention to the scale of new opportunities: a new economy is emerging," which focuses more on creative industries and the cultural sector. We live in societies that are increasingly diverse, multicultural and this issue was at the heart of Urban Forum, held in Naples on 3 September. "Europe must cast a fresh look on multiculturalism," she said. “We must learn to use diversity as a motor of cohesion and innovation, rather than see it as a weakness or a source of division", highlighting the role of UNESCO to mobilize this potential and to convince governments that there are responses here to the current economic and social crisis.

On the sidelines of the plenary session, the Director-General met with Polish President Komorowski. The President expressed Poland's support for storng work being undertaken for the reform and the visibility of UNESCO, underlining the excellent cooperation with Poland and the importance of the Economic Forum for the entire region.

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