On 9 June 2013, Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, opened the 7th World Environmental Education Congress with Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection, Mr Mario Salomone, Secretary General of the World Environmental Education Congress Network, Mr Abdulaziz Othman Altwajiri, Director-General of ISESCO, Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, and Mr Jan Eriksen President of the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa opened the World Congress with a message from His Majesty King Mohammed VI, underlining the high stakes facing humanity and the world today and the importance of environmental education for responding to the rising impact of climate change. The message called for education to deepen harmony with our environment, as the basis for a new sustainability.
“Education for sustainable development is education for the 21st century -- real change must happen in the way we think, we act and we behave with each other and with the earth that nourishes us,” said the Director-General.
“This must start with education -- with education that empowers women and men, with new skills,” she continued, underlining the importance of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, led by UNESCO.
The 7th World Environmental Education Congress is being held in Marrakesh under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the leadership of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa. This is the first such World Congress organised in an Islamic and an Arabic country.
The Congress is organized by the Secretariat of the World Environmental Education Congress and the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection. The Congress brings together some 2000 actors involved in environmental education at all levels, from local to global.
In the course of the official visit, the Director-General met Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection. They discussed the need for more concerted efforts by all to promote education for sustainable development as the basis for real change.
During the visit, Irina Bokova met also with Mr Mohamed Amine Sbihi, Minister of Culture, with whom she discussed UNESCO's cooperation with Morocco in the field of culture and Morocco's leadership in this respect.
The Minister showed the Director-General the Medina of Marrakesh, inscribed on the World Heritage List -- including the stunning Bahia Palace, as well as the Djamaa El Fna square, with its snake charmers, peddlers, acrobats, musicians and dancers, a masterpiece of humanity intangible cultural heritage.
With the Minister, the Director-General reviewed the growing recognition of the power of culture for development, highlighting Morocco's rich experience in the MDG-F Joint Programme for Culture for Development. She noted the strong message that came from the Hangzhou International Congress on culture as a key to sustainable development and thanked Morocco for its support -- including the Minister's participation in the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly Thematic Debate on Culture for Sustainable Development, held by the President of the General Assembly on Culture for Development, with UNESCO.