During his stay in Rome, the Director-General held bilateral talks with the highest Italian authorities: Mr Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic; Mr Romano Prodi, Prime Minister; Mr Massimo d’Alema, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr Francesco Rutelli, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture; Mr Fabio Mussi, Minister of Universities and Research; and Mr Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, Minister of the Environment, Land and Sea. Mr Matsuura also visited the secretariat of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO.
During these meetings, the Director-General paid tribute to the importance Italy attaches to multilateralism and the active support the country gives to UNESCO. Italy is UNESCO’s largest donor in terms of extra-budgetary contributions, which, with the recently announced additional grant of 7 million euros, amounts to over 50 million euros.
Mr Matsuura highlighted in particular Italy’s support for the promotion of the preservation and protection of cultural heritage. Italy has ratified the major culture-related conventions of UNESCO and has 41 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The country also hosts and supports important UNESCO institutions, such as the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE) in Venice and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste. During this visit, Mr Matsuura, Minister d’Alema of Foreign Affairs and Minister Pecoraro Scanio of Environment, Land and Sea, signed the Memorandum of Understanding concerning the establishment of the UNESCO Programme Office on Global Water Assessment in Perugia. This was the third and last in the series of agreements that completed the transfer of the WWAP Secretariat to Italy.
On 20 November, the Director-General visited Perugia to inaugurate the Secretariat of the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) together with Minister Pecorario Scanio and Mr Bottini, Advisor for the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Umbria Region. Later the day, Mr Matsuura met Mrs Rita Lorenzetti, President of the Umbria Region. The Director-General expressed his deep appreciation of Italy’s generous support to the WWAP Secretariat, the main aim of which is to produce the World Water Development Report. Mr Matsuura said the Office in Perugia had “the potential of becoming an international hub for water-related activities where a wide range of capacity development can be provided, especially for developing countries”.
On 22 November, the Director-General travelled to Milan to receive a Doctor Honoris Causa Degree in Cultural Studies and International Relations at the IULM University of Languages and Communication at a ceremony attended by Minister Rutelli and Rector Puglisi. On this occasion, Mr Matsuura gave a speech on the promotion of cultural diversity and its corollary, intercultural dialogue, as the foundations of peace and social cohesion.
Before his departure from Italy, the Director-General visited the Church and Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the refectory of which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s celebrated “Last Supper” and which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1980.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 179-2007 - Publication Date: 26-11-2007