28 September, 2016 the city of Almaty hosted an international conference entitled "International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures 2013-2022: Social Transformations and Intercultural Dialogue". It was the first conference on this topic in the countries of Central Asia, organized by the UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty and the recently established with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan – "Centre for the Rapprochement of Cultures".
The conference was inaugurated by the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kuatzhan Ualiev. In his statement, he stressed the importance of the mission of the "Centre for the Rapprochement of Cultures" for the development of the global dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples in order to “construct defences of peace in the minds of men". "Kazakhstan attaches a great importance to the development of programmes and the implementation of important initiatives according to the roadmap of the "International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, 2013-2022”, since we believe that intercultural dialogue strongly contributes to the strengthening of social cohesion and the expansion of cultural and social space", - underlined Mr. Ualiev.
The conference was attended by all members of the Academic Council of the Centre, including such well-known public figures as Karl Baipakov, Murat Auezov and Orazaly Sabden. In their statements, they have repeatedly emphasized the need to promote dialogue between the peoples in the current environment of intense globalization, built on the idea of the unity of humankind, the awareness of cultural diversity and the recognition of the equal dignity of each civilization and each culture.
The director of the Division of "Social transformations and intercultural dialogue" at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Mr. Dendev Badarch, shared information during the conference on the global strategy of UNESCO in the field of intercultural and interreligious dialogue. He also made several recommendations to the Centre concerning in particular the priorities of the Centre regarding interreligious dialogue. After all, in today's world of where the number of interreligious conflicts is increasing is the result of ignorance or lack of understanding of other cultures and traditions. If the activities of the Centre are focused on the study of interaction and mutual influence of different religions, spiritual and humanistic values, as well as on enhancing the educational potential of other countries in this field, the achievement of a peaceful, tolerant and humane society would be even more real.
Mr. Badarch arrived to Kazakhstan as a head of a delegation from UNESCO Headquarters to prepare a feasibility study for the Centre for granting the status of “category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO”. His visit also included meetings with representatives of state bodies, the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan and the UNESCO Chairs on "Science and Spirituality" as well as "Ethnic and religious tolerance were held." These meetings aimed at strengthening cooperation for the implementation of regional programs of the Centre in the field of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
At the final session of the conference, a discussion on the creation of the Association of universities in the Asia-Pacific region to support UNESCO initiatives on interreligious and intercultural dialogue was held. The purpose of this association includes the formation of a research platform to address a number of new global challenges requiring timely analysis, exchange of experience and joint response of researchers and students. "Young people today are recognized as the main driving force of changes and strengthening a culture of peace. Therefore, the quality of education and the involvement of young people in solving social conflicts is of great importance for all of us. Only by raising the level of knowledge of young people's understanding of the history of the peaceful coexistence of our countries, their cultural heritage, traditions and spiritual values, we will be able to achieve effective dialogue and thus, prevent or even eradicate potential conflicts and violent extremist acts "- underlined in her statement Ms. Arina Plokhikh, Programme specialist of Social and Human Sciences of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty.