Valdas Adamkus to be named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Knowledge SocietiesValdas Adamkus, President of Lithuania from 1998 to January 2003, will be named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Construction of Knowledge Societies at a ceremony to be held in the presence of the Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas), Arturas Paulauskas, at UNESCO Headquarters on September 29 at 6 p.m. The ceremony will take place as an exhibition, “Building Knowledge Societes”, opens at UNESCO.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, is naming the former president “in recognition of his dedication to the Organization’s aims and ideals and with a view to benefiting for the construction of knowledge societies from his wisdom and extensive experience in many of UNESCO’s areas of concern, in particular promotion of social development, cultural diversity, dialogue and international cooperation.”
Mr Adamkus was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, in 1926 and joined the resistance movement for Lithuanian independence during World War II. After a brief stay in Germany in 1944, he returned to Lithuania where he fought the Red Army. After the War, he studied at the Faculty of Natural Science of the University of Munich. He worked with the YMCA, focusing on displaced persons and on sports.
In 1949, Mr Adamkus emigrated to the United States. He graduated as a construction engineer from the University of Illinois in 1960. In the U.S., Mr Adamkus was an active organizer of protest actions against the Soviet regime in Lithuania.
Working for a US Environmental Protection Agency since the 70s, he became its administrator, a post he held until 1997. Mr Adamkus assisted the environmental institutions of the Baltic States and organized cooperation projects with Lithuania's academic institutions. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Vilnius (Lithuania), Indiana (U.S.) and Illinois (U.S.) for his contribution to environmental projects. Other distinctions awarded to Mr Adamkus include the US Environmental Protection Agency Gold Medal for Exceptional Service and the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award (US).
On September 29, Mr Adamkus will become UNESCO’s 40th Goodwill Ambassador, along with leading personalities Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Catherine Deneuve and Patrick Baudry.
Mr Adamkus is expected to return to UNESCO Headquarters on October 9 for a ministerial roundtable meeting “Towards knowledge societies”. He is also due to address a high-level Symposium in Geneva on December 9, the eve of the World Summit on the Information Society.
Only journalists accredited to the General Conference will be able to attend the event.
For accreditation contact UNESCO’s Press Service: tel. +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48
Photo © UNESCO/Michel Ravassard