Japan's civil society and private partners take forward UNESCO's values

On 8 November in Tokyo, the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ) gathered a wide circle of advocates, during a reception hosted on the occasion of Director-General Irina Bokova’s visit for the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development.

“The National Federation plays a unique role for UNESCO – as a platform for engaging civil society and the private sector to take forward the priorities we share,” said the Director-General, recalling that the first UNESCO Club was created in Sendai in 1947. Both Mr Mastake Matsuda, President of NFUAJ, and Mr Noboru Noguchi, its Director-General, underlined Japan’s friendship towards UNESCO, that carries deep roots and is renewing.

UNESCO signed a Cooperation Agreement in February 2012 with NFUAJ that is bearing fruit. All Nippon Airways is the first airline to become an official UNESCO supporter.  The Director-General flew on the first of 22 aircrafts carrying the inscription “We Support UNESCO” under the Organization’s logo, whiles sales of inflight products are partially donated and passengers can donate miles. World Heritage programmes produced by NHK are included in the in-flight entertainment menu. As ANA Vice President Mr Fukuda stated, Japan aims to double the number of tourists visiting the country by 2020, from 10 to 20 million. “We need to protect our beautiful nature otherwise our country will lose its attractiveness. This is why UNESCO activity and our business are directly linked,” he said.

The Director-General had a lunchtime discussion with 10 women who play an active role in the NFUAJ, heading UNESCO Associations around the country. They shared ideas on how to spread UNESCO’s values and ideas among the younger generation, promote a broad vision of education for sustainable development beyond environmental concerns, and advance girls’ and women’s education. The Director-General stressed the importance of addressing issues that carry meaning for youth. “Young people want quality education and skills, they want to be listened to, they are sensitive to climate change and increasingly interested in understanding their own cultures.”