On 26 June, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, opened a cultural event entitled “Support crafts to save local cultural industries and to create sustainable livelihood opportunities” organized by Bibi Russell, UNESCO Artist for Peace.
“Culture is more than monuments, songs and cloth – it is who we are. No society can flourish without culture,” said the Director-General. “No development can be sustainable”.
“This is the message Bibi Russel has always carried, and that we send today, by supporting local cultural industries to create sustainable livelihoods".
Over the past decades, Bibi Russell has been working very closely with artisans in different parts of the world to redress the declining trend in the handloom textile industry. While working in countries where high quality hand-woven textile production and complementary crafts were once the mainstay of the economy, assisting the skilled weavers to preserve their knowhow, to create harmonious links between tradition and modernity and to facilitate their access to local and global markets, she realized that well-designed strategies with integrated learning, skills training and appropriate use of technology can enable artisans at risk to preserve many fine skills, their cultural wealth and creativity as well as to secure an income in a sustained manner. In recognition of her work to promote the traditional artisanal crafts of her Bangladeshi homeland, Bibi Russell was named UNESCO Artist for Peace in 1999.
The fashion event took place within the framework of UNESCO’s annual Goodwill Ambassadors meeting, where UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors gather to discuss the Organization’s work and priority programmes.