Representatives of the world’s cultures will come together in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 5 and 6 for the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, held to boost and support efforts in favour of cultural diversity and inclusive societies through dialogue among all stakeholders.
Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, will open the Forum, which is hosted by the Government of Azerbaijan, in partnership with UNESCO. The event will provide an opportunity to examine effective responses to challenges facing human security, including massive migration, violent extremism and conflicts.
A boom in the world’s population (more than 7 billion in 2017), the power of technology, more salient human mobility, and the increased flow of goods and ideas across borders has brought cultures much closer together in the 21st century in ways unimaginable only a few decades ago. But as some doors have opened, others have closed in particular in the minds of women, men and children living with increased and more complex manifestations of diversity. This has strengthened prejudice, intolerance, racism, xenophobia, discrimination, radicalization and violent extremism.
In this context, the Forum will bring together heads of government and ministers, representatives of intergovernmental organizations and the private sector as well as policy-makers, cultural professionals, journalists, intellectuals and civil society activists, to reaffirm the imperative need to expand, consolidate and intensify dialogue among peoples and cultures, religions and beliefs.
It will underscore that dialogue is a prerequisite to preventing and addressing the challenges we face, for without dialogue the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all will remain elusive.
UNESCO will host more than ten sessions at the Forum, showcasing the Organization’s diverse work on intercultural dialogue to address issues such as the integration of migrants in cities, and counter the proliferation of violent extremism as well as the growth of youth radicalization on the internet.
At the Forum, UNESCO will also launch a number of products, among them the research publication, Interculturalism at the crossroads, comparative perspectives on concepts, policies and practices, and two innovative online platforms: an e-Learning platform on intercultural competences (financed with the support of Azerbaijan) and another on the Muslim-Arab Legacy in the West (funded by the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).
During the event, the UNESCO Chairs in Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue will hold their second Academic Forum, while the network of the UNESCO Silk Road Online Platform will meet to examine progress in its 2016-2018 Action Plan. UNESCO will also pay tribute to the recent winners of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture during the Forum.
This edition of the Forum gives added impetus to the UN International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), for which UNESCO is the lead agency within the UN, and to the Organization’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 16 on the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies.
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