Fourth Bicocca Intercultural Day
Milan – May 26, 2016
Prof. Mariangela Giusti,
Mr. Bill McAndrews Vice President, Corporate Communications, BMW Group
Prof Lucio Caracciolo,
Prof Alessandro Baricco,
I am very pleased to be back to your esteemed university and to participate again in Bicocca Intercultural Day. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Prof. Giusti for organizing this successful event for the 4th year and I would also like to thank BMW Group for hosting the event.
The main theme of today’s event is “Building bridges between the two banks – Intercultural education at the time of fundamentalism”. This is very much in line with the core of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ mission which strives to build bridges across cultural and religious borders, foster understanding and dialogue, and promote diversity.
It would be stating the obvious to say that we have been witnessing a rise in the wave of violent extremism and radicalization. The ugly face of terror wearing the cloak of religion is invading the lives of thousands of innocent people and causing unimaginable destruction to their lives.
We live in a time of transformation and our world is changing rapidly. To keep pace we must be innovative in expanding space for dialogue. We must break down barriers of mistrust and build new avenues of understanding. The intercultural innovation award (IIA) in partnership with BMW Group is a perfect example of our commitment to find new and original ways to bridge divides, build knowledge on cultural diversity, promote tolerance and peace across religions and develop intercultural partnerships.
You see by doing so and partnering with grass root organizations, we seek to provide a counter narrative for violent extremism.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Few weeks ago, we organized in Baku – Azerbaijan our 7th UNAOC Global Forum themed “Living together in Inclusive Society: a challenge and a goal. One of the main segments of the program was the celebration of the Intercultural Innovation Awards. This year’s ceremony captured the hearts of minds of everyone attending as they heard from the awardees their extraordinary stories.
Ten new organizations were awarded and joined the IIA family. From a SMS-based tool for marginalized communities to tell their stories via international media outlets, to a platform to engage men, boys and communities to address the socio-cultural stereotypes and conditions that impedes girls’ education in Eastern Africa, coming from all over the world, the awarded initiatives provide outstanding examples of leadership, celebrating diversity and fostering imagination and creativity with the aim of boosting innovative collaboration across divides and making vital contributions to prosperity and peace.
Allow me here to tell you briefly about the impact of this successful partnership that we forged with BMW Group. Since 2011, we awarded 41 organizations coming from all continents but the award is not limited to the monetary prize per-se. What count the most is the unique opportunity for the awardees to benefit from BMW and UNAOC respective expertise and become part of an alumni network of likeminded individuals that can offer synergies for cooperation.
The increase in impact and relevance of the Intercultural Innovation Award in the past years has grown impressively. In 2011, the countries impacted by IIA awardees were 39. By the end of 2015 the increase was over 150% with 98 countries, across all continents. The growth in terms of number of beneficiaries impacted by the supported projects is even higher, touching almost 300%, and over 1 million people.
Let me take the opportunity to commend the leadership of BMW Group and thank Mr. McAndrews, Vice President of BMW Group, for his vision and constant support to this initiative.
Allow me to talk for a moment here as well about the corporate social responsibility and its relevance to the work of the United Nations. Over the years, the United Nations has transformed its relationship with the private sector whereby many partnerships between UN agencies and the private sector had been forged. Our partnership with BMW Group is one of these successful partnerships.
I would like to conclude by saying that we all share a common aspiration of achieving peaceful, just, prosperous and inclusive societies. In the spirit of the fourth Bicocca Intercultural Day, let us all commit to turn that aspiration into a reality. No one should be left behind.