Director-General signs an agreement for the creation of a Chinese garden at UNESCO Headquarters

Director-General signs an agreement for the creation of a Chinese garden at UNESCO Headquarters
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 24 April 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Mr Zhang Xinsheng, Chinese Vice-Minister of Education, former mayor of the city of Suzhou, and former Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, by which the Suzhou Municipal Government has offered to donate to UNESCO a Chinese Classic Garden of Suzhou to be constructed at the Organization’s Headquarters in Paris.

Mr Yang Hui, Representative of the Mayor of Suzhou, signed the MoU on behalf of the Chinese Government. The signature ceremony also counted with the participation of Mrs Shi Shuyun, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the People’s Republic of China to UNESCO, Mr Du Yue, Deputy Secretary-General of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, as well as the team of Chinese engineers responsible to begin the construction of the garden in May 2009.

This “Suzhou Yi garden” – or the garden of change and harmony – shall be built in the grounds of UNESCO’s Miollis building. It represents the Confucian philosophy of all things being in a perpetual state of change yet immutable. It uses the same elements and follows the same designing principle of the classical Chinese gardens of Suzhou*, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997.

Following the signature of the agreement, the Director-General thanked the Chinese government for “this generous donation” and expressed his appreciation to Mr Zhang Xinsheng for “having taken the initiative of this project and having ensured its fruition.”

In recalling his visit to the Classical Gardens of Suzhou at the time of the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2004, Mr Matsuura highlighted the gardens’ character of peaceful harmony and underscored his satisfaction for having a reproduction of such an environment at UNESCO. “It is an apt symbol of the values that UNESCO works tirelessly to promote,” he stated.

The Director-General went on to express his hopes that the work on this garden be completed before the Organization’s 35th General Conference in 2009, also coinciding with the end of the renovation works at UNESCO’s Fontenoy building.

Welcoming the agreement, Mr Zhang Xinsheng paid tribute to Mr Matsuura’s leadership and made reference to the garden’s attribution to cultural diversity. Echoing the point made by the Director-General, he noted that this garden will be built in the entrance of the building housing the delegations of UNESCO’s Member States, and evoked the significance therefore of having a garden that symbolizes “harmony” in the “house of consensus.”

In their remarks, Mr Yang Hui, Ambassador Shi Shuyun, and Mr Du Yue expressed China’s continuous support for the Organization’s ideals, and characterized this project as a physical illustration of intercultural dialogue. They reiterated the Chinese appreciation for having a Suzhou garden, which is “nature in a nutshell”, placed in the heart of UNESCO, and underlined that this agreement is yet another step marking the enhanced collaboration between UNESCO and China.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 074-2009
  • 27-04-2009
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