Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

United Nations – New York
26 June, 2015

The High-Representative condemns the terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France

The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser strongly condemns the series of terrorist attacks that took place today in the cities of Sousa in Tunisia, Kuwait and Saint-Quentin-Fallavier in France.

The High Representative stresses that such heinous acts and all other attacks targeting innocent people are criminal and unjustifiable. Their perpetrators must be brought to justice. Crimes as such, will only lead to more hatred and violence, posing a serious threat to international peace and security.

These terrorist attacks are contrary to the values the Alliance of Civilizations promotes such as tolerance, peaceful co-existence and meaningful dialogue.

Mr. Al-Nasser extends his heartfelt sympathy to the victims’ families and loved ones. He expresses his support to the peoples and Governments of Tunisia, Kuwait and France.

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Third Capacity-Building Workshop for Intercultural Innovation Awardees held in São Paulo by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group

In Brazil from 22 to 25 June 2015, the United Nations Alliance of Civilization and BMW Group hosted a workshop in collaboration with the BMW Foundation and Vaga Lume, an organization based in São Paulo who received the Intercultural Innovation Award in 2011.

Participating in the workshop was the eleven current recipients of the Intercultural Innovation Award, coming from Australia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Lebanon, Rwanda, Sweden and USA. The awardees received training on monitoring and evaluation, and the effective use of social media. They also had the opportunity to discuss issues on intercultural barriers and funding for non-profits with local foundations including Instituto Alana, GIFE, Arapyau, the Roberto Marinho Foundation and the BMW Foundation.

The workshop finished with an inspiring day of field visits, firstly to meet the community at the Culture Center of Fundação Tide Setubal in São Miguel Paulista and then to the Impact Hub to discuss issues on racism and immigration with Sistema Negro and CRAI São Paulo. The final event of the day was a traditional Brazilian Festa Junina party, where workshop participants had the opportunity to meet teenagers from the Vaga Lume Net Program, the project for which Vaga Lume received the Intercultural Innovation Award in 2011. The Net Program provides an exchange experience between teenagers from São Paulo and rural communities in the Amazon, thus promoting intercultural dialogue.

The training in São Paulo is part of the one-year support program provided to recipients of the Intercultural Innovation Award. The main objective of the workshop was to build the capacity of awardees in increasing the long-term impact and sustainability of their projects, such that the projects can expand and replicate in other contexts. The mandate of the Intercultural Innovation Award is to select highly innovative and sustainable grassroots projects that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding, while making vital contributions to global peace and prosperity.

The next edition of the Intercultural Innovation Award is currently open for applications. Interested organizations can apply at interculturalinnovation.org. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, 30 September 2015 at 5:00pm in New York.

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The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations launches the 3rd Edition of Entrepreneurs for Social Change (E4SC)

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is launching the third edition of Entrepreneurs for Social Change, a one-year programme, which aims to support young entrepreneurs in the Euro-Med region, who, through their business activities, are committed to creating employment opportunities while promoting nonviolent social change.

The programme offers a one-week intensive training for 20 social entrepreneurs who are selected through a competitive call for applications from the 26 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Ten experts from the roster of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations provide training sessions on building business models, fundraising, generating employment, facilitating intercultural understanding, engaging local communities, and addressing marginalization.

After the training, the social entrepreneurs have the opportunity to benefit from both one-on-one and group mentoring sessions. Through these, participants practically apply lessons they learn during the training, approach potential investors, strengthen their business plans, and test their social impact. One mentor works with each trainee for a period of 9 months to incubate his/her entrepreneurial idea and help move it forward.

By drawing on the network of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the social entrepreneurs become part of an international community of practice. This enables them to create opportunities to expand their start-ups, learn how to use intercultural challenges to their advantage, stay in touch with and learn from their peers around the world, present their projects to potential investors and donors, and become mentors for future entrepreneurs.

The 2015 edition of the program, will start with a training, held from the 18th to the 25nd October 2015 in Torino, Italy. There is no participation fee, and all participants will be provided with round-trip international tickets to Torino as well as accommodations, meals and visa support.

To apply, visit www.e4sc.org.

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Al-Nasser commemorates International Day of Yoga, says: Yoga promotes harmony and peace among diverse people, regardless of their religious denomination.

Remarks
By
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
At
The International Day of Yoga
Lincoln Center New York- June 21, 2015

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nama-skar!

It is with great pleasure that I join all of you today in celebration of International YOGA Day. First, I would like to highlight the initiative of the Government of India and specially, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in giving prominence to yoga practice as a tool to overall well-being, both physical and emotional.

I am also delighted the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has found valuable partners in both the Global Citizenship Forum and Universal Peace Federation. I am happy with our cooperation with these two organizations in our search for solutions to global problems.

In December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly supported the efforts of the Government of India and proclaimed June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

In doing so, the General assembly recognized the universal benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations. In fact, global health is a long-term developmental objective, which requires closer international cooperation through the exchange of best practices aimed at building better individual lifestyles, which are devoid of excesses of all kinds.
For centuries, people from all walks of life have practiced yoga, recognizing its unique embodiment of unity between mind and body.

The necessity to pursue a multilateral agenda of peace through sports and other forms of human expressions, remain one of the prime fields of action of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

With that in mind, I was very keen on including music and art as a complementary component in the agenda of the meetings of the Alliance Group of Friends.

It is essential to recognize and foster the oneness among people and civilizations by finding the common threads of what makes us human beings and strengthening those beyond all boundaries. We would like to see a world where the UNITY of mankind can be celebrated, while discrimination and extremism comes to an end. Where cultures and religions are brought together in friendship and understanding.

I strongly believe in the power of yoga to contribute to the now pressing Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. One of the core goals of the agenda is the promotion of peaceful, inclusive, safe and resilient societies.

This confidence was reinforced earlier today, when hundreds of men and women, from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, gathering to advocate the universal values of Yoga here in New York in Time Square. And even earlier in the day during the celebration of the International Yoga Day at the United Nations Headquarters, which demonstrated how Yoga can bring communities together in an inclusive manner that generates respect. The experience emphasize the key role yoga can play in bridging the cultural and religious gaps among people. The spiritual experience reached through this practice, regardless of one’s religious denomination, can lead to promoting harmony and peace at all levels of societies, and thus help advancing safe and peaceful societies.

Concluding, let me say this: international cooperation is not only needed to build better lifestyles, but rather the building of a better individual consciousness as well as global consciousness , essential to the well-being of the modern world.

Let us all aim at unity for this inspired celebration of the international day of YOGA.

Thank you. NAMASTE

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Al-Nasser opens a panel discussion on Youth and Peacebuilding co-organized by UNAOC-EF

Remarks

By

Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilization

At

Panel Discussion on Youth & Peacebuilding

June 17, UNHQ

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon,

It is always good to be speaking to and be among young people like yourselves. I am very pleased to see you all again and I hope you have enjoyed your day here in New York city and all the diversity this city has to offer.

Today’s panel discussion lies at the heart of UN work in the areas of peacbuilding, reconciliation and the prevention of conflict and violent extremism. The distinguished panelists today will explore how can the UN strengthen its engagement and partner with youth on several fronts. But most importantly you will hear later today from the United Nations Secretary General himself about the global efforts undertaken under his guidance in the area of peacebuilding and global peace and security.

Let me start by telling you this : Strengthening peace and diffusing tensions that might escalate to armed conflicts is the raison d’etre of the United Nations.

However, as we look around us we see that global security landscape is shifting dramatically beneath our feet. At hand, we have raging violent extremism , food insecurity, poverty, climate change and economic inequity. For me, I cannot envision any global solutions for these problems without the fresh input of the young minds. Afterall, youth constitute almost two thirds of the population of the world we share together. In addition, in most of the conflict-affected or post-affected countries for more than 50% of the population.

However, I would like to note that until now our discussion on youth issues, peace and security has been limited, both in focus and the degree to which it actually engages young people. For youth, and perhaps you all agree with me on that , the international community still lacks a comprehensive positioning and policy to fulfil the aspirations of young people around the world.

Over the past years, the world’s attention on terrorism and violent extremism has resulted in a strong focus on the role of youth in carrying out terrorist acts.

Sadly, recent dramatic events have demonstrated how young people can be seduced to commit heinous crimes and alarming acts of violence while also being victims of such acts. The reasons are obvious: statistics show that youth in countries with low GDP, limited educational and employment opportunities , exclusion from social and political participation and inequity , were the main drivers for violent extremism and radicalization.

So let’s use this platform – the UN platform – to amplify and scale your efforts. Your participation is essential to successful peace-building . In the face of violent extremism, partnering with young people, MUST be part of the solution.

I am personally committed to doing so.

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The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Launches the 13th edition of its Fellowship Program

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) launched the call for applications for the thirteenth edition of its Fellowship Programme. The call is open to emerging leaders and young professionals from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America.

For each cohort (Europe and North America on one end and North Africa and the Middle East on the other end) ten to twelve participants will be selected to travel for two weeks to their counterparts’ region. During their trip, these emerging leaders will interact with actors from various backgrounds in order to get an extensive grasp of their host country’s culture, politics, society, religion, media and more.

The UNAOC Fellowship Programme aims at fostering intercultural exchange and interfaith understanding by engaging with emerging leaders and young professionals from across the world. The Programme offers its participants a first hand exposure to diversity and the opportunity to experience cultural immersion while interacting with a wide range of local actors and partners. In every country visited, fellows are being provided with crucial comprehension knowledge and experience to understand the plurality and the complexity of their surroundings.

The main objective of the Fellowship is to involve participants into intercultural cooperation and interfaith dialogue, and encourage them to engage in broader and deeper discussions on cultural awareness and sensitivity. By exposing fellows to new ideas and perspectives, and by immersing them into culturally diverse and unfamiliar environments, the Fellowship Programme aims at challenging perceptions and deconstructing stereotypes. Building on that first step, participants are then better qualified to position themselves as informed stakeholders and to develop cross-cultural partnerships between peoples from different religions and origins.

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Al-Nasser Inaugurates UNAOC-EF Summer School 2015 in Tarrytown NY

Remarks

by

UNAOC High Representative

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

At

The Opening Ceremony

UNAOC-EF Summer School

Tarrytown, 15 June 2015

Dear Summer School Participants,
Distinguished Representatives of EF Education First,
Distinguished guest speakers, trainers and facilitators,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to address you today. You are an inspiring group of young people who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and potential to be an ever-growing force for positive social change. It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to this unique program, the third one we organize in partnership with EF Education First. I also look forward to welcoming you to the United Nations Headquarters later this week.

Since its creation in 2007, the UNAOC has recognized that young people are both partners and stakeholders in achieving our mission and building the world we want. We have championed the expertise and knowledge of young people, and their ability to be role models and sources of inspiration for their peers and across generations. We have committed ourselves to create opportunities to work with youth locally and globally. We have done this for one simple reason: because it is the right thing to do; It is a democratic and demographic priority!

Young people are the most impacted by conflict. They are also underrepresented in conversation about their own futures! In many countries, they represent over 50% of the population. Yet, they are not fully involved in decision-making processes. How can the world develop solutions to global problems without seeking fresh input, ideas and perspectives? It is high time we listen to you and work with you to build a peaceful and more equitable world.

The Summer School is an opportunity for you to be part of this conversation and for you to set an agenda, together, to take action.

Why is taking action now important?

Because we are facing some serious challenges as a global community. As a matter of fact, the events of this past year remind us that it is perhaps more pressing than ever before. As you know, our world has continued to experience tragic events directly connected to identity-based tensions and the need for greater belonging and social inclusion.

I would like to personally thank you for being here today and for choosing to renew your commitment to the search for solutions. In your life, you have witnessed injustice and violence. You may even have experienced it directly. You know our world is not perfect. Yet you choose to fight, peacefully, to transform it. Not everyone does this. You are making a difference and can rally even more people to this cause.

I would also like to thank our partner, EF Education First, whose generous support and collaboration over the past three years have been critical to implement the Summer School. The Alliance is deeply grateful for their renewed commitment to invest in youth education and development.

Dear Summer School participants, I want to underline the power of what you are about to experience now.

During the coming week, you will live, learn and collaborate together. The potential of this experience is truly unique. Think of the stories you will bring back home and the lasting connections you are making.

They will be a powerful testimony to the strength of our world’s diversity and the power that arises when cultures, faiths and perspectives unite to create positive change.

I encourage you to make the most of this educational experience. The lessons learned at this Summer School will stay with you for a long time. I also encourage you to include the voice those in your communities who are not here today but who can benefit from your experience. The summer school is also about bringing in their aspirations in the search for solutions. I have no doubt you will exercise your passion in this way.

Remember that this summer school programme is not just a gathering.

It is meant to open your minds and hearts to the real world, the true life that we share together no matter how our colors or backgrounds are different.

Our target is that we provide you with this opportunity to prepare you for the future when you become political leaders, civil society figures, and decision makers, so you can take the right decision on how to constructively use the media, on how can you enhance the education curricula, on how to positively look at migration issue and to be able to support the engagement of youth at all levels in your respective countries.

And this is what I want you to remember.

I look forward to hearing about your experience at the Summer School and about the great work you will do together in the future.

Thank you for contributing to advance the mission of the Alliance of Civilizations. When we encourage multiple perspectives that promote peace, inclusion and harmony, we build a better world for all.

Enjoy your stay in Tarrytown and New York!

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Closing Remarks by Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the GoF Meeting 4 June 2015

Closing Remarks

By

Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At the GoF Meeting

4 June 2015

 

Excellencies,

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We have heard interesting ideas from our keynote speaker Ms. Cristina Gallach. We have also heard from the distinguished representatives of the Member States about their perspective on the role of the media in building bridges of understanding and providing a counter-narrative for violent extremism.

I believe we all agree that media has the power to serve as a bridge between cultures and societies. Media informs, educates and entertains viewers and readers. Yet political control and market forces, often obstruct the production of quality news that is balanced and objective.

Furthermore, the digital revolution that has taken our world by a storm has transformed the way we transmit and receive information. We have seen how social media, smart phones and satellite television as new media platforms have dramatically changed global media landscape.

It was pointed out that these changes come with benefits and also new challenges.

We see how radical groups have hijacked these new media platforms and used it as an advocacy tool for their extremist ideologies, and inciting violence and hatred. In doing so, they have assaulted not only individuals, but also global values representing the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

That being said, our next goal should be winning the battle of ideas.

In this context, we mentioned the legal instruments such as article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Allow me to remind you also of Article 20 of the same covenant states that “any propaganda for war” and “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

In few words before I conclude my closing remarks, I would like to brief you on what UNAOC is doing to address this issue:

UNAOC is actively working on developing new and innovative initiatives in the key areas of Media and Migration. Current themes of interest include the following: Hate Speech and the Role of the Media in changing perceptions of certain migrant communities. The use of technology in migration reporting and the impact of a multi-disciplinary approach to this type of journalism through active collaboration between journalists, tech professionals and community members. Youth and the positive use of social media.

As we pursue our efforts in these areas, we are actively looking for more partners and collaborators on these important topics.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you all again for your interventions and input.

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Opening Remarks of H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser United Nations High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations before the UNAOC Ambassadorial Meeting on the Role of Media in Building Bridges of Understanding Between Nations 4 June 2015

OPENING REMARKS OF H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
UNITED NATIONS HIGH REPRESENTATIVE
UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS

BEFORE THE

UNAOC AMBASSADORIAL MEETING ON

THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN
BUILDING BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN NATIONS

4 JUNE 2015

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to welcome you to our second UNAOC Ambassadorial meeting we convene in the first half of 2015.

Today, we will discuss an important matter to the World’s Affairs, which is so much related to our Global Peace and Security in the 21st century.

It is also very special occasion, since we are discussing this very important topic, after enjoying a fantastic performance by our future generations who sang for peace.

They have just sent us an important message: Using universal human expressions like music, sports or the arts help in building bridges of understanding among different cultures and civilizations.

Allow me at the beginning to welcome our keynote speaker, H. E. Ms. Cristina Gallach, Under Secretary-General for Communications & Public Information.

UNAOC is very proud of its partnership and collaboration with the DPI.

Media is and has always been an intriguing topic of discussion at any given time. The reason is obvious: media is a major factor in shaping our perceptions and views.

As you are aware, Media is also one Major pillar for the agenda of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. That being said, I decided to dedicate our Group of Friends meeting today to this timely theme“ The Role of Media in Building Bridges of Understanding between Nations”.

Media provides a global platform for exchanging information, engaging between communities, while at the same time re-affirming the commitments of saying the truth and suggesting solutions for our troubled world.

The necessity of embracing and respecting diverse cultures, promoting inclusive societies and cherishing our common and shared values, are all driving forces for Media, culminating into investment for peace and security, Sustainable Development and Human Rights.

Two weeks ago, my team and I were in Baku to participate in the Third Edition of the World Intercultural Forum, followed by participation in an OSCE meeting in Vienna. The role of Media and its relation to the world peace, dominated the two occasions.

In Baku, UNAOC organized, a plenary session and two workshops. They focused on Youth and the responsible and constructive use of social media, in which we discussed the rapid dissemination of, hate speech via social media platforms that leads to stereotyping and the spread of radicalizations, thus contributing to violence and terrorism.

The workshops we organized, showcased UNAOC programming in the area of youth, who we believe are the agents of positive social changed and contributors to peace building in their capacity as young social entrepreneurs and peace promoters.

In Vienna, the OSCE meeting that lasted for 2 days, called for strengthening international responses to radicalization that leads to terrorism.

The subject was deliberated with great importance for its relevance to the International Peace and Security and proved the necessity for the International Community to exert more efforts in combating hate speech in accordance with International Law.

Let’s take into account that there is always a space for free speech and expression, but there is no merit in the freedom of insult, incitement to hatred and spreading the messages of enmity.

While we express our views, let’s remember to observe articles 19 & 20 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, related instruments and relevant UN resolutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN Alliance of Civilizations’ foundational document, the High Level Group Report, mandates us to work on countering the factors that cause polarization, radicalization, and violence between and within communities, in particular those factors with religious or cultural motivations.

As you know, Pillar I of the Global Counter Terrorism strategy calls for action around this point.

I would also like to recall relevant UNGA and Security Council Resolutions, which emphasize need for greater dialogue between cultures and civilizations, the importance of building confidence and respects and, the necessity to assume preventive policies.

To that end, our focus on Media as a main UNAOC pillar aims to counter narratives that lead to incitement and hate speech. To achieve this, we engage in two types of activities:

  1. Organizing training workshops for journalists in collaboration with senior media professionals and conflict resolution experts.
  2. Providing a platform to voices of credible individuals who put out messages that counter hate speech and negative narratives.

Let me remind you that UNAOC’s mandate is to build bridges between nations, based on respect and confidence building.

Therefore, I believe in the constructive role the Media can play and I encourage Media practitioners to further explore ethical and legal awareness of relevant instruments and UN resolutions that require the observance of such universally accepted norms, when practicing the freedom of speech, not the freedom of insult.

UNAOC would like to see a stronger Media in order to fulfill main pre-requisites for the sake of building peaceful and inclusive societies, such as:

  • Promote principles of mutual understanding and cooperation as well as the reconciliation of relations between different cultures and religions.
  • Raise awareness of obstacles hindering the cultural dialogue in order to face and overcome them.
  • Promote practical media programmes on reconciliation and overcoming stereotyping.
  • Shape a proactive public opinion, favorable to the cause of tolerance and respect for religions through social media, so to foster a positive social dialogue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Journalists working in new and traditional media alike, contribute to a large extent to building stronger, healthier and more peaceful societies when their reporting is balanced, objective, responsible and accurate.

I have offered here UNAOC’s reflections based on what we have learned, as an organization tasked with preventive mandate to defuse cultural and religious tensions that may lead to threats to International Peace and Security.

Over a number of years of working in this field and as High Representative, I can assure you that I am committed to ensuring that the UN Alliance of Civilizations will continue to refine its approaches in this area, amplify its voice and invest this part of its mandate to build bridges between nations.

In that regard, I invite each one of you to explore forming new partnerships aimed at enhancing our work and our use of Media, as an enlightening tool for our common path.

I thank you.

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Remarks by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the Ministerial Meeting on Culture and Sustainable Development in the post-2015 Development Agenda

Remarks

By

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At

The Ministerial Meeting

Culture and Sustainable Development in the post-2015 Development Agenda

3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Baku

May 18-19, 2015

 

Your Excellency Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan,

Your Excellency, Mrs Irina Bokova, Director

Your Excellency Dr. Abdulaziz Altwijiri, Director General of ISESCO,

Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Yesterday, I heard very inspiring words from the distinguished participants in this forum on the value of sharing culture for our shared security. I also followed closely the discussions on the virtues of multi-culturalism, the silk-roads initiative and its potential for today’s cultural dialogue. Furthermore, we learned about the power of education as well as how the tourism industry is an agent for promoting tolerance, understanding and dialogue between peoples, cultures and civilizations.

There was consensus among the speakers who came from different parts of the world representing diverse stakeholders that cherishing our common and shared values, embracing diverse cultures, and promoting inclusive societies is the only way to attain global peace and security in today’s world.

Today, we are discussing in this round table an equally important topic: Culture and Sustainable Development in the post 2015 Development Agenda.

Allow me first to remind you that in the year 2000, the international community agreed on a set of Millennium Development goals, to ensure globalization would act as a positive force for all peoples. Since 2000 onwards the power of cultural diversity has been recognized. The Outcome Document of the 2010 MDG Summit emphasized the importance of culture for development and its contribution to the fulfillment of the MDGs. The message was re-iterated in the Culture and Development UNGA Resolution in 2012, advocating for the mainstreaming of culture into development policies and strategies.

Culture is a cross-cutting concern. It affects all the dimensions of development. As such, a human-centered, culturally centered approach to development will yield the most effective, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. Specifically, diverse cultural approaches will contribute to economic development, promote social cohesion and foster environmental sustainability.

Investing in culture and creative industries is an excellent way to revitalize economies. Facts speak for themselves. Creative industries represent one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the global economy. The tourism sector has, also become one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, in addition to being a very powerful tool for fostering diversity and bringing people together. According to statistics, every year more than one billion people are crossing national borders of which 25% are under the age of 25. This is a perfect example of human interaction, cultural exchange, dialogue and breaking stereotypes.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are many initiatives within the UN system that aim at making the implementation of the SDGs more measurable through the use of targets and indicators. It is important though to emphasize that such targets and indicators must be country specific and adapted to the needs and capabilities of those using the indicators. There is no one sixe that fits all.

The Alliance of Civilizations have launched a number of initiatives to support the goals of sustainable development. If you look at the 17 goals proposed by the Open Working Group, you will see that each and every one of them calls for dialogue across civilizations and religions. Each of these goals can only be achieved if people, communities and nations work together across cultures, religions and ethnic groups. This includes the first goal, which calls for an end to poverty in all its forms, to goal number 17, which stresses the need to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. In that context, the mission of the Alliance is in line with goal number 16 which states the need for securing peaceful and inclusive societies.

There is an undeniable truth: the interdependence between societies and that prosperity and well-being can only be achieved if differences between people are seen as an asset to development. All 17 goals with their social, economic and environmental aspects, can only be fully attainable by leaping over the barriers that divide us and embracing our common and shared values.

Allow me to re-iterate again, that the Alliance is dedicated to the proposition that cultural, ethnic and religious diversity are pillars of sustainable development, rather than obstacles on its way. It requires partnerships on all fronts. We partner with the corporate sector, the civil society, academia and faith-based organizations as well as governments to promote and fund projects and programs that support the role of young people of all denominations in social and economic growth.

We are gathered here today in the shared belief that the 17 sustainable development are achievable and require our commitment to nurture inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue in all societies for the sake of peaceful and inclusive societies.

I thank you and I look forward to our discussions.

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