Brussels, 5 June 2015 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated today in the High Level Seminar on "The inclusion of culture in development programmes," with the European Commissioner for Development and Cooperation, Mr Neven Mimica, the Director General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, Mr Xavier Prats Monne, and Mr Paul Dejardin, Director of the Bozar Centre, the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, which hosted the meeting.
The seminar was an opportunity to present the results of the major UNESCO/EU Expert Facility Project for the governance of culture, which provided support for the development of stronger cultural policies and to promote the creative industries in more than 13 developing countries since 2010.
“Culture stands at the crossroad of sustainability issues. The creative sector represents millions of jobs and drives growth, it is also well spring of cohesion, identity and collective mobilization. This combination is what I call a development multiplier,” underlined the Director-General, commending the excellent cooperation with the European Commission, which is undertaking extensive work for stronger inclusion of culture in development and cooperation programmes.
"This is not a technical subject, it is a challenge for all humanity," underscored the Director-General, referring to the repeated attacks against culture and heritage by extremists in the world.
"We need to invest in culture and creativity to transform societies -- this is our ultimate renewable resource."
The European Commissioner, Neven Mimica recalled the action undertaken by the European Union to integrate culture in the United Nations post-2015 development agenda. Earlier in the morning, the Commissioner and the Director-General discussed in depth the prospects of cooperation between the European Union and UNESCO. The Commission supports several major programmes led by UNESCO, notably for the education of Syrian refugees in Jordan and for the protection of cultural heritage in the Middle East.
"The role of culture for sustainable development is still not well known and we must make it known. Culture is not the cherry on the cake -- culture is the cake," said Mr Xavier Prats Monne, Director Education and Culture to the Commission.
The Expert Facility Project, financed by the European Commission, is a key element in UNESCO’s action to integrate more support to the culture sector in the strategies of sustainable development.
On the margins, the Director-General held a bilateral meeting with Ms Silvia Costa, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on culture and Education, who just adopted a resolution on the destruction of heritage in Iraq and Syria, calling for a further strengthening of the cooperation with UNESCO.
During her visit to Brussels, the Director-General also met with her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium, to discuss the role of education against youth radicalization and the rise of extremism.