Director-General convenes with UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors for their 7th Annual Meeting

Director-General convenes with UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors for their 7th Annual Meeting
  • © UNESCO/N. Burke

On 3 April 2007 Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened the 7th annual UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors’ meeting at UNESCO Headquarters.

Almost 20 Goodwill Ambassadors participated in the two day meeting. His Excellency Mr Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, also participated in the two day meeting in his capacity as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (see Media Advisory No.19 for complete list of participants).

These annual meetings are organized as a means for Goodwill Ambassadors to present their initiatives and projects, exchange experiences, and share good practices. They are also a time for the Secretariat to inform Goodwill Ambassadors of UNESCO’s priority programmes and vision of the future.

In his opening address, the Director-General presented the two key issues that were chosen for this year’s meeting: literacy and sustainable development - “two of the major challenges of today’s world, and also areas where many Goodwill Ambassadors have been deeply engaged,“ stated Mr Matsuura. “Literacy is vital to individual empowerment, effective social and political participation, poverty reduction and, indeed, sustainable development,” he added. The Director-General emphasized how UNESCO, with its interdisciplinary mandate, is strongly positioned to respond to this challenge.

Regarding literacy, Mr Matsuura highlighted “UNESCO’s unique role within the United Nations system for promoting global literacy. “We do this both through our leadership of the UN Literacy Decade (the UNLD), and through UNESCO’s own Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), which targets the 35 countries with the greatest literacy needs.” The Director-General also recalled the special role that UNESCO Celebrity Advocates have been playing in this regard: “UNESCO has launched a major campaign in support of global literacy through a series of six Regional Conferences in Support of Global Literacy starting last September with the White House Conference on Global Literacy, hosted by Mrs Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States and UNESCO Honorary Ambassador for the UNLD.

This campaign continued with the first Regional Conference on Literacy Challenges in the Arab Region, which was held last month in Doha, Qatar and hosted by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education.” Furthermore, Mr Matsuura expressed his gratitude to Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, who will host the Regional Conference for the Europe and Caucasus Region in Baku, Azerbaijan, in July 2008.

With regards to sustainable development, particularly in relation to climate change and freshwater issues, the Director-General underscored UNESCO’s internationally-recognized leadership in the management of oceans and freshwater resources. He praised the valuable contributions made by Goodwill Ambassadors in this field.

For their part, each Goodwill Ambassador presented the activities that they had been leading over the past year, and the many ways in which they were supporting the Organization’s priorities, such as through fund raising and international gala parties and concerts, as well as through local projects, like using music to reach out to underprivileged children. The Director-General welcomed the wide spectrum of areas covered by the Goodwill Ambassadors’ work, which ranged from HIV and AIDS, literacy and child care to the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and the promotion of intercultural dialogue through art and multilingualism.

Mr Matsuura also had the opportunity to engage in fruitful discussions with the Goodwill Ambassadors, and to exchange ways in which their collaboration could be further strengthened. Together, they discussed the themes for the upcoming year’s efforts and next meeting’s agenda. The Director-General encouraged Goodwill Ambassadors to continue working strategically with the Organization to raise awareness of and support for the major international goals of our time.

In recognition for his accomplishments, the Director-General was honoured with a diploma from the Imperial Academy of Beaux-Arts of the Russian Federation by Mr Zurab Tsereteli, President of the Russian Academy of the Arts and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

On the occasion of the annual meeting of Goodwill Ambassadors, the Director-General also received the visit of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. During this visit a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between UNESCO and the Jordan River Foundation, which she chairs. “The Night of Jordanian Treasures”, a performance of Jordanian dances and music followed the signing in Queen Rania’s presence (see Media Advisory No.18 and Flash Info No.50 for more details).

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N°051-2007
  • 10-04-2007
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