Doha focuses on cultural diversity and development
UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova took part in the 4th annual UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum, held in Doha (Qatar), from 11-13 December. The Forum’s discussions came under the theme “Intercultural dialogue to boost development.”
Irina Bokova spoke in the first plenary session on “How cultural diversity matters to development? The missing link”, where she introduced UNESCO’s long standing role in the field of education, culture, sciences and communication. She showcased the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, as well as the upcoming commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Convention concerning the Protection for the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
In this context, Irina Bokova highlighted UNESCO’s successful efforts to promote the role of culture for development on the international agenda, namely in the Outcome Document of the United Nations 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit, in the resolution on culture and development adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010 and in a second resolution on this theme under discussion by UN General Assembly.
The Director-General pointed to the need for greater cultural literacy in societies today, starting inside schools and through education. “This prevents discrimination and promotes tolerance, respect and human rights,” she affirmed.
The Forum saw the participation also of the Qatari Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Atiya, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Manuel Chavez, President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, President of Germany, Christian Wulff and a representative of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
During the course of her visit, the Director-General signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Doha Cultural Village Foundation in the presence of Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser of Qatar. The MoU seeks to promote the diversity of cultural expressions and a dialogue among cultures in the spirit of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001). Irina Bokova welcomed “this opportunity to further deepen its partnership with Qatar,” and looked forward to UNESCO providing “concrete assistance to design and develop joint cultural programmes that engage the local community and contribute to reinforcing professional capacities in Qatar”.
During the 4th annual UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum, specialists from UNESCO took part in the discussions on freedom of expression, where the focus was on journalism education and youth communication, and also on the role of education in sustainable development, which explored the relevance of education to sustainable development as well as the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural understanding. The importance of intercultural competences and skills in a world changing quickly was underlined. In a session dedicated to youth, UNESCO’s experience in engaging young people and supporting their social inclusion was presented as important steps towards reconciliation and peace in post-conflict situations.