Canada’s reengagement in global affairs and sharply increased investment in arts and culture offer opportunities to raise the visibility of UNESCO across the country, affirmed Mr Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada’s Council for the Arts, during a meeting with Director-General Irina Bokova in Ottawa on 29 March, 2016.
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO, presided by Christina Cameron, operates within the Canada Council, a federal Crown Corporation that enjoys strong autonomy.
Mr Brault recalled that the Council provides “active support” to the Canadian Commission. In the context of significantly increased federal funding and a return to cultural diplomacy, he said the time was ripe to develop more synergies with UNESCO and to raise the Organization’s visibility nation-wide.
A man of theatre, a cultural advocate and the author of a “No Culture, No Future” (L’avenir passe par la Culture”), Mr Brault affirmed his visceral attachment to cultural diversity as a force for societies, and his belief in the transformational power of arts and culture.
“Art and culture are not a direct antidote to violent extremism but an important mechanism to offer alternatives to despair and radicalization,” he said.
Discussing ways to increase engagement, Ms Bokova suggested a focus on the promotion of cultural diversity and the prevention of violent extremism; and increasing outreach in areas of UNESCO’s mandate, through broader partnerships, including with the scientific community. Canada’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Ms Elaine Ayotte, encouraged the detachment of experts to UNESCO in specific areas of need, and increased scientific collaboration.
Ms Christina Cameron, President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, highlighted the importance of reinforced action in SDG4 on education, in particular through the Associated Schools Network and the UNESCO Chairs. She drew attention to the “Education Week for Peace and Sustainable Development” coming up in March 2017, in Ottawa. The week combines the first Global Forum for the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development and the Third Forum on Global Citizenship Education.
In the area of cultural heritage, Ms Cameron, a renowned world expert, proposed an in-depth rethinking of the doctrine surrounding approaches to the restoration of destroyed sites, in light of profound shifts in the global landscape that have occurred over the past two decades.