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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

The Prime Minister of Mauritius visits UNESCO and addresses its Executive Board

The Prime Minister of Mauritius visits UNESCO and addresses its Executive Board
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 14 October 2008, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, paid an official visit to UNESCO, where he held bilateral talks with UNESCO Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, and addressed the Organization’s Executive Board.

During their bilateral meeting the Director-General expressed his satisfaction with the cooperation between UNESCO and Mauritius. He congratulated Mauritius for the inscription on the World Heritage List of “Aapravasi Ghat” and “Mount Le Morne”, two cultural sites which are “significant emblems of the history of Mauritian communities.”

The Director-General and Prime Minister Ramgoolam signed an aide-memoire that aims to further strengthen ties between Mauritius and UNESCO and calls for innovative cooperation in sustainable development in the context of the ‘Maurice, île durable’ (Mauritius – Sustainable Island) programme, introduced by Mr Ramgoolam. The aide-memoire was signed in the presence of Ms Indira Savitree Thacoor-Sidaya, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Mauritius to UNESCO, Mr Suresh Chundre Seeballuck, Secretary to Cabinet and Head of Civil Service of Mauritius, and Dr Mary Mbiro Khimulu, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Kenya to UNESCO and Chairperson of the Africa Group.

Following the signing ceremony, Mr Matsuura applauded Prime Minister Ramgoolam for according priority to UNESCO’s fields of competence, particularly in ensuring access to quality education for all, the preservation of cultural diversity, and sustainable development. The Director-General explained that UNESCO was taking an intersectoral approach to assist Mauritius in its efforts towards development, and pledged UNESCO’s commitment to ensure the implementation of the aide-memoire by offering assistance to Mauritius in a wide array of fields, including sustainable management and conservation of natural resources and preservation. He went on to emphasize that the aide-memoire, which was elaborated as an outcome of a UNESCO high level intersectoral mission to the country, also makes reference to the potential for UNESCO and Mauritius to work with other regional partners on the development of programmes that also benefit other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Indian Ocean.

The Prime Minister thanked the Director-General for the particular interest he has continuously shown to his country, illustrated notably by the two official visits paid to Mauritius in 2004 and 2005. Prime Minister Ramgoolam underscored the priority given to the two World Heritage sites and called for UNESCO’s continued support in safeguarding the country’s cultural diversity. He also requested for the Organization’s technical assistance in the implementation of the priority areas identified in the aide-memoire particularly the ‘Maurice, île durable’ initiative.

During a working lunch hosted by Mr Matsuura, the parties discussed issues of mutual interest, including the importance of ensuring the achievement of EFA goals in Africa and enhancing UNESCO’s visibility in Member States. Mr George Anastassopoulos, President of UNESCO’s General Conference and Mr Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, Chairman of the Executive Board also attended the lunch.

In the afternoon, following a brief address by Mr Yaï, Prime Minister Ramgoolam addressed the 180th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board and presented the ‘Maurice, île durable’ programme, launched by his Government to meet the challenges facing the country. He particularly stressed that the programme plans to increase the percentage of renewable energy use from 20 to 43% over the next 20 years. The Prime Minister also highlighted that ‘education for sustainable development’ has been introduced in all school curriculae in Mauritius.

In his remarks, the Director-General paid tribute to Prime Minister Ramgoolam’s leadership and vision in launching the ‘Maurice, île durable’ programme and expressed UNESCO’s enthusiastic support. “Mauritius thus shows the way, and plays a pilot role in the area of sustainable management of the environment,” he said. Mr Matsuura also recalled that in January 2005, a high-level United Nations meeting had been convened in Mauritius to review the implementation and refine the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). “The Mauritius Declaration called for concerted action in several domains. The ‘Maurice, île durable’ programme is a concrete response”, Mr Matsuura stated.

Following the plenary meeting of the Executive Board, the Prime Minister held bilateral talks with the President of the General Conference and the Chairman of the Executive Board. That evening, the Prime Minister hosted a reception where he reiterated the importance he attaches to the mandate of the Organization.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 140-2008
  • 16-10-2008
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