Also present at the signing ceremony was the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the People’s Republic of China to UNESCO, Ms Shi Shuyun.
Mr Matsuura began his comments following the ceremony by thanking Vice-Minister Shouxiang for having come to Paris to sign “a very important agreement to establish an international centre on Karst in Guilin, China.” He went on to express his appreciation to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for its support in establishing the centre. He noted that People’s Republic of China had the most category II centres under the auspices of UNESCO of any Member State and praised the Chinese Government for its continued support to UNESCO’s work through its existing category II centres in the field of science and education.
The Director-General noted the importance of the study of karst. Karst areas are very fragile environmental landscapes that need extremely careful management in order to sustain the living conditions of their inhabitants. Karst areas affect vast areas of the world as some forty countries and one billion people are exposed to the process of karst formation. The centre will investigate the different environmental and resource problems of karst, such as desertification, pollution of groundwater, collapse of the land surface, floods and droughts.
Mr Matsuura highlighted “the strong cooperation between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and UNESCO in the field of Earth sciences.” The Director-General in particular underscored the Government of China’s support of another important initiative in the field of Earth sciences, namely, the creation of geoparks. The first geoparks conference under the patronage of UNESCO was organized in Beijing in 2004 with the strong support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
Vice-Minister Shouxiang in turn thanked the Director-General for UNESCO’s strong role in the field of Earth Sciences, notably through its International Geoscience Programme and the geoparks initiative.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 016-2008 - Publication Date: 12-02-2008