On 18 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the 3rd Meeting of Ministers of Culture of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which brought together 33 delegations of the Member States of the region, among them 14 countries represented by their respective Ministers of Culture.
The Director-General opened the event alongside the Minister of Culture of Cuba, Julián González, and the Minister of Culture of Ecuador and Chairperson of the Pro-tempore Presidency of CELAC, Guillaume Long.
Irina Bokova underscored the role of Latin America and the Caribbean region in the consolidation of values and ideals on the occasion of the creation of UNESCO, 70 years ago, and the importance of these values and ideals to tackle the current global challenges.
“We need this energy today, to respond to violence against culture, to deal with the extremism that destroys our common memory and pursues individuals based on their beliefs and traditions, in the Middle East and elsewhere.”
The Director-General expressed the importance of holding this meeting a few days before the approval of a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda, highlighting the role of culture to design more inclusive and sustainable societies, based on the identities, values, and skills of communities.
“Today, in Havana, we must seize this opportunity to raise the profile of culture ever higher, for all members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States to build culture and cultural diversity into all development efforts.”
On the same day, the Director-General opened UNESCO’s workshop on the Regional work-plan for culture (2016-2021) to support the achievement of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.
The work-plan will explore several themes including the defense, conservation and safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage, the prevention and fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property, the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, and the strengthening of cultural and creative industries, among others.
“Culture is essential to create a more sustainable development, both economic and social, through resilient infrastructures that are embedded in local situations and are based on the history and knowledge of the people”, said the Director-General.
She called for the “participation of all in the work plan, which should serve as a compass for government action in the field of culture for the next fifteen years.”