On signing the cooperation agreement between UNESCO and the regional government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya) on 3 June, in the presence of His Excellency Mr. Artur Mas, President of the regional government of Catalonia and Excellency Mr. Juan Manuel de Barandica y Luxán, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Spain to UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, welcomed the renewal of cooperation as a new commitment to advance UNESCO’s priorities.
“Cooperation with the regional government of Catalonia is longstanding and dynamic,” said Irina Bokova, recalling that it addresses both safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage, the expressions and traditions of living heritage as well as education, the sciences and technology.
Catalonia has six World Heritage sites, including Antoni Gaudi’s works of art, the Monastery of Poblet, the Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula, Roman churches and several archeological remains – notably, the remains of the archeological site of Tarragona – as well as two representative elements of intangible heritage, including the Patum of Berga, and two biosphere reserves.
Irina Bokova reflected upon Spain’s significant position within UNESCO and its active role in the Executive Board and beyond – all of which, she said, help UNESCO to forge “responses to the challenges and the opportunities of a changing world”.
She thanked Spain and the regional government of Catalonia for their strong advocacy regarding the role of culture for sustainable development.
Referring to the financial and economic difficulties experienced by a large number of countries, the Director General recalled that “culture plays an essential part in assisting societies in this period of crisis, thanks to the creation of employment and income at both local and national levels”.
“We have crucial resources to generate employment and growth despite the crisis -- our climate, our landscapes and our thousand-year-old culture. UNESCO is a hallmark of excellence that enables us to highlight these assets and to create new sources of income and employment,” said Artur Mas.
The Director General underlined also Spain’s key role in fostering dialogue in the Mediterranean, especially in bringing the northern and southern Mediterranean shores closer together, drawing on its strong experience and strategic position as well as on its strong relations with countries across the region.
In concluding, Irina Bokova congratulated the President of the regional government of Catalonia for the commitment of the Barcelona Football Club to training disadvantaged young people and its advocacy with UNESCO to promote the values of sport.