United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General opens UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries in Monza, Italy and receives Eurovisioni Prize for Cultural Diversity

On 24 September 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, joined the Italian Minster of Culture, Mr Sandro Bondi and the President of the Lombardy Region, Mr Roberto Formigoni, for the opening of the first UNESCO Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industries held at the Villa Reale, in Monza Italy.

The Forum, developed in association with the Government of Italy, the Region of Lombardy and the City of Monza, brought together decision-makers, artists and representatives of the private sector to discuss the role of culture in and for development, on the theme “creativity, innovation and excellence: from crafts to the design and fashion industry”.

Also present at the opening ceremony were Italy’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alfredo Mantica, the President of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO, Professor Giovanni Puglisi, the Ministers of Culture of Bahrain, Colombia and Jordan, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Culture of Algeria, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Lady Owen-Jones and leading figures from the crafts, fashion and design industries from more than 50 countries.

In thanking the Italian authorities for their support, the Director-General explained that: “In launching this Forum, we started from the conviction that far from being a threat to cultural diversity and creativity, globalization is in reality a support and vector…so long as [it] is placed in the service of sustainable development, respectful of people and their socio-cultural environments...This depends on the availability of quality education for all; participative processes that facilitated greater integration of women; mechanisms for greater North-South and South- South solidarity; and a wide range of innovative partnerships, especially at the level of cities and regions.”

Mr Matsuura went on to state that “Cultural vitality is synonymous with innovation and diversification. It also serves to maintain a broader goal of peace and social cohesion. UNESCO needs you, in this context to think of alternative development strategies that allow the flourishing of creative capacities of individuals and take into account the needs of all artists, professionals and practitioners involved in the cultural sector,” he added.

Minister Bondi and President Formigoni similarly underscored the importance of the crafts and design sectors as engines not only of economic development but also their power to humanise society, particularly in times of crisis.

Following the opening ceremony, Minister Bondi and Mr Xavier Gouyou Beauchamps, President of Eurovisoni, awarded Mr Matsuura with the 2009 Eurovisioni Prize for Cultural Diversity, in recognition of the role he had played in extending UNESCO’s coverage of culture, notably through the development and adoption of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

In bestowing the Prize, Minister Bondi said that over this decade at the helm of UNESCO, Mr Matsuura had been a true friend not only of Italy but all countries of the world. Together, they had faced many challenges and worked towards sustainable solutions. Throughout that time, Mr Matsuura had worked determinedly to transform UNESCO, to clarify its role in the multilateral system, concentrate its focus and bring several countries back to the Organisation. In the field of culture, the adoption of the 2001, 2003 and 2005 Conventions meant that the world’s cultural diversity was better protected. This was crucially important because, as the Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industries demonstrated, globalization had found its limits in culture.

Mr Xavier Gouyou Beauchamps underscored the fundamental contribution of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to the cultural industries, noting the importance of enriching ones’ own culture while opening up to others. In this regard, Eurovisoni had had no hesitation in deciding to bestow the 2009 Prize to Mr Matsuura.

In accepting the Prize on behalf of UNESCO, the Director-General expressed his profound gratitude both to Eurovisioni as a rich and stimulating platform for reflection on the audiovisual industries and to the Italian Government for their longstanding support for UNESCO’s work in promoting international cooperation in the field of culture and the diversity of cultural expressions. Recalling the distance already, travelled in developing a coherent set of international conventions covering all aspects of culture, Mr Matsuura said that the challenge for the future was to assist countries to integrate the principles enshrined in them into national development strategies.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 172-2009 -  Publication Date: 28-09-2009

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