From 24 to 27 August 2017, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will pay an official visit to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to take stock of expanding cooperation in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, further to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the period 2016-2020.
Starting the visit in Hanoi, she will sign with the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Chu Ngoc Anh, the agreements to establish the International Centre of Research and Postgraduate Training in Mathematics and the International Centre of Physics as Category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO. Both Centres are hosted by the Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology. This be the occasion to highlight the importance of science, technology and innovation for the sustainability of all development.
In meetings foreseen with the President of the National Assembly, H.E. Ms Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Mr Dr Vu Duc Dam; and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO H.E. Mr Le Hoai Trung , the Director-General will emphasize that UNESCO’s fruitful partnership with Viet Nam is built on the convergence between the Organization’s soft power agenda and the country’s longstanding tradition of investing in education, science, culture and communication as powerful tools for inclusive sustainable development.
She will witness the ancestral connections between nature and culture during a visit foreseen to Trang An Landscape Complex, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014, a property where archaeological excavations testify to continued human settlement spanning more than 30,000 years.
In Ho Chi Minh City, she is expected to meet with H.E. Professor Dr Nguyen Thien Nhan, Member of the Politburo and Secretary of the Party Committee of the city. Southeast of the city, she will visit the Can Gio Mangrove forest, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2000, which holds the highest diversity of mangrove plant species in the sub-region.
Viet Nam, a member of UNESCO’s Executive Board, is home to 8 World Heritages sites, 9 Biosphere Reserves, 11 inscriptions on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and 2 UNECO University Chairs.
The Permanent Committee of the Mexican Congress held a ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to promote UNESCO Global Geoparks in Mexico. Representatives of various parliamentarian groups presented this recognition to the Rector of UNAM, Enrique Graue Wiechers, and gave certificates to UNAM’s institutes of Geography and Geophysics, promoting the two recently designated Mexican UNESCO Global Geoparks: Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca and Comarca Minera, Hidalgo. These areas were the first to be recognized as geoparks in Mexico, a decision that was approved by UNESCO’s Executive Board during its 201st session, in May 2017. Held on 26 July, the event was also attended by local and indigenous representatives of both Geoparks, who symbolically gave staffs of command to the Rector of UNAM.
“With regards to geodiversity, the absence of Mexico on the UNESCO Global Geoparks world map was quite surprising” said Rector Graue Wiechers. “Comarca Minera and Mixteca Alta are the first two, but we know that there will be many more, given that Mexico’s territory is lavishly endowed by a rich nature.” He also highlighted UNAM’s actions to benefit Mexican people, and recognized that among these, supporting Geopark initiatives has become a priority. Speaking before the Congress delegates, he acknowledged the efforts of the researchers and students of the Geophysics and Geography institutes in preparing the successful applications of both Geoparks.
The rector took the opportunity to ask to the plenary for a greater commitment with this highly regarded university. UNAM conducts nation-wide activities like earthquake and sea level monitoring, surveying territorial waters and Mexico’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It also hosts the national Library and Newspaper Archive, and now also supports Geoparks. The Rector argued that Mexico needs a strong University, with strong support.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are territories that promote geodiversity through community-led initiatives to enhance regional sustainable development. They help monitor and promote awareness of climate change and natural disasters and many of them help local communities prepare disaster mitigation strategies.
Within the framework of UNESCO’s efforts to promote freedom of expression and media development, UNESCO Cluster Office for Yemen and the GCC organized a training for women journalists based in Mukalla, Hadhramaut governorate, Yemen from 13 to 24 August 2017.
UNESCO undertook this initiative as part of its efforts to support Yemeni media in promoting peace and dialogue and based on gaps identified by local partners in assisting the media sector in times of crisis, including the need for capacity-building opportunities to respond to the lack of representation of women journalists in the newsroom in certain areas of Yemen and the lack of representation of women's stories and voices in local and foreign media content
The training was led by Saeed Al-Batati, freelance journalist based in Mukalla and regular contributor to foreign media including Gulf News, Al Jazeera English, New York Times, the Guardian and Foreign Policy, and implemented by the Hadhramout Establishment for Human Development (HEHD), a local non-profit organization.
Commenting on the workshop, Sarah Ba-Gubair, who was among the group of trainees, said she learned a lot from this capacity-building opportunity including on “visual journalism, the importance of analysis, gathering facts and pitching new ideas to editors and foreign media outlets". "We definitely need more Yemeni women journalists in the media sector because it is so important to highlight women's stories and show the rest of the world what we are currently going through," she added.
Saeed Al Batati, the lead trainer for the workshop said: "Despite the significant demand for news and updates from southern Yemen, no single bilingual female journalists works as a reporter for local and foreign media outlets. Highly qualified English speaking women have the potential to fill this gap in reporting provided they are equipped with advanced skills in journalism".
Shaim bin Othman, who was also trained over the past ten days, stressed the importance of the workshop given the present context and said it opened her eyes to new possibilities for her future. "I have now more knowledge to write news and produce quality reports that will allow me to keep up with the situation in the country and report information to people living in Mukalla," she said.
Dr. Saleh Aram, Chairman of HEHD, added: "There is a huge gap in local English-language media, especially, in the number of female journalists in the newsroom. We hope this workshop can contribute to providing the media sector with equipped journalists to contribute to its development".
The training focused on advanced journalism skills such as media ethics, safety guidelines and digital safety (using UNESCO Reporters Without Borders Safety Guide for Journalists), thematic sessions on lifeline programming, writing on cultural heritage but also on techniques to increase their visibility and pitch stories to foreign editors. The trainees were also asked to conduct practical exercises by conducting interviews and write stories based on the information collected.
Located in the southwest of Ecuador and northwest of Peru, Bosques de Paz seeks to be a model of participatory and citizen management that can strengthen peace, sustainability and ecological connectivity between both countries. This site, which was recognized this year as the first transboundary reserve in South America by the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, was presented officially by the Environment Ministers of Ecuador and Peru, Mr Tarsicio Granizo and Mrs Elsa Galarza, on 18 August 2017, in the city of Macará, Loja Province, Ecuador. It promotes sustainable development for the benefit of the more than 600 000 Peruvians and Ecuadorians that live in this area.
Bosques de Paz, which translates to “Forests of Peace”, has a total area of 1,616,988 hectares and is composed of the Bosque Seco Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador (501,040 hectares) and the Noroeste Amotapes - Manglares Biosphere Reserve in Peru (1,115,948 hectares). It includes the seasonally dry forests of Ecuador and Peru, which form the heart of the Endemic Region of Tumbes, one of the most important biodiversity hotspots of the world.
During the event, the Ecuadorian Minister of the Environment declared that his country was ‘pleased to have this Biosphere Reserve as an additional management tool for the conservation of this important and fragile ecosystem. Thanks to the will, inclusiveness and brotherhood of the people of both countries, this biosphere reserve is now officially launched. In addition to facilitate looking after the forests, it presents an alternative for sustainable development and the conservation of nature.’
The Peruvian Minister of the Environment highlighted the coordinated efforts between the two countries, through which a biosphere reserve could be established to promote the development and well-being of border populations, while further strengthening the friendship between both countries following the conflict of a few decades ago.
Both countries expressed their appreciation for the support received in this nomination process by the Government of Flanders of the Kingdom of Belgium through the BRESEP Project (Biosphere Reserves as a tool for management of coastal areas and islands in the South East Pacific). Ecuador and Peru both participate in this project, together with Chile, Colombia and Panama. BRESEP, which is coordinated by the UNESCO-MAB Programme, aims to create and strengthen existing biosphere reserves in coastal areas and islands of the South East Pacific coast of these five countries. BRESEP also aims to promote biosphere reserves as tools for innovative projects to bring added value to local socio-economical activities, and to sensitize and build the capacity of stakeholders in the area.
Thirty experts from some 20 countries will meet to examine examples of cultural cross-fertilization identified in UNESCO’s monumental General and Regional Histories and Routes of Dialogue projects to determine ways to boost intercultural dialogue today. The meeting, an international seminar entitled The Great Moments of Dialogue in Human History: Assessment, Lessons, and Prospects, will take place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 29 and 30 August.
The seminar will serve to identify the great periods of dialogue in human history and highlight the main markers of these cultural interactions in different regions of the world so as to improve our understanding of the processes whereby cultures influence one another.
Participants will also explore the potential of today’s digital networks and the development of tools to disseminate existing knowledge in this area. They will finally propose concrete guidelines to develop educational materials and tools using ICTs to promote mutual understanding, dialogue and reconciliation.
The seminar is part of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), of which UNESCO is the lead agency.
In recent years, worsening of tensions, conflicts and terrorism in different parts of the world have once again given currency to long discredited ideas according to which clashes between civilizations and confrontations between peoples and nations are inevitable. Current tensions have also revived racial and cultural prejudices inspired by unscientific theories about a supposed hierarchy of races, cultures and religions. The fact that such ideas have gained ground in recent years has made new reflection on the common heritage and shared values of humanity topical and necessary.
The international seminar will be preceded on 28 August by an international conference on “Central Asian Renaissance in the History of World Civilization” organized by the Government of Uzbekistan, with support of UNESCO, on the occasion of the Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the East) music festival, which is held biennially in Samarkand. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, will open the conference.
Contact: Natalia Wagner, firstname.lastname@example.org
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On 20 August 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, visited the Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation, where she presented the town-island of Sviyazhsk its World Heritage certificate and named former President of Tatarstan, Mr Mintimer Shaimiev, UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue.
The Director-General handed the World Heritage designation certificate of the Assumption Cathedral of the Town-Island of Sviyazhsk, nominated last July in Krakow, to the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Mr Rustam Minnikhanov.
“The significance of Sviyazhsk for Tatarstan, for the Russian Federation and for all humanity goes well beyond the beauty and purity of its stones and buildings. This is about religious tolerance. This is about peaceful coexistence and intercultural dialogue”, Irina Bokova said.
“We need such message of tolerance more than ever today. We have to oppose the attempts of violent extremists to disseminate false narratives on religion or culture and distort history to spread hatred and we must share more examples of mutual understanding, more stories of encounter and mutual enrichment,” she added.
The Director-General also named Mr Mintimer Shaimiev, former President of Tatarstan, UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue, for his strong commitment to this issue as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the nonprofit organization “The Republican Foundation for the Revival of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Tatarstan”.
Handing the Certificate to Mr. Shaimiev, Irina Bokova said: “Your life and your work have been guided by the conviction that cultural diversity is a force for the construction of sustainable and inclusive societies, as a source of resilience, adaptation and pride. You played a major role in the cultural revitalization of the region through funding of initiatives such as the reconstruction of the Mother of God Cathedral and the creation of a Bolgar Islamic Academy”, Irina Bokova added.
The Republic of Tatarstan is a region of the Russian Federation, with a long history of peaceful religious coexistence. It has developed a leading role within the Russian Federation in all fields of cooperation with UNESCO. It hosted the Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS VI) in Kazan in July 2017. It is actively involved, with its religious communities, in the launch of UNESCO’s Cycle of Regional Thematic Consultations on sustainable management of the World Heritage properties of religious interest. It also hosts three UNESCO Chairs, including the new UNESCO Chair on Bioethics at Kazan State Medical University.