UNESCO and the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation

Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General, welcomed Ms Bianca Jagger, Chair of Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, who visited UNESCO Headquarters on 10 January 2014.

The one hour meeting served an opportunity for Ms Jagger and the Deputy Director-General to brief each other on the work of the two organizations and to exchange ideas for future cooperation.

Their discussion focused in particular on indigenous peoples’ rights and natural resource use, as well as the value of local and indigenous knowledge for achieving today’s sustainable development agenda: both major global challenges and important opportunities for cooperation.

In this regard, they discussed the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve of Nicaragua and the indigenous Mayangna people whose homeland is the BOSAWAS rainforest, the second largest in Latin America after the Amazon.

The Deputy Director General presented Ms Bianca with a copy of the UNESCO-LINKS publication on “Mayangna Knowledge of the Interdependence of People and Nature”. Noting the great challenges faced by local communities, and recalling the visit of the Director-General to Nicaragua in May 2013, both sides agreed to cooperate in exploring the technical support needed to assist the Government and Mayangna communities, and in making calls for further joint efforts by government offices, UN partners and other international organizations.

Such support could include capacity building for land and forest monitoring and management, elaboration of community-based schemes for economic development, and improving public awareness of the biodiversity and cultural diversity, including Mayangna traditional knowledge, that UNESCO is committed to protect and promote.

The importance of girls education and education for sustainable development were also discussed at the meeting. Joining the meeting were also staff from the Department of External Relations and Information (ERI), and the Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) and Man and the Biophere (MAB) Programmes from the Science Sector. UNESCO Offices in San Jose and Montevideo, in collaboration with the Nicaraguan National Commission for UNESCO, have been actively engaged in ongoing efforts to mobilize technical support for the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve.