The UNESCO Office in Maghreb and the City of Essaouira organized a round table on the theme "Culture and Social Inclusion: what can the Coalition of Arab Cities against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance contribute?” on 22 June 2018, in Essaouira (Morocco), as part of the Gnaoua World Music Festival.
The Festival, which is a major cultural event of the City of Essaouira, constitutes the ideal platform to spark a common reflection on the role of culture to foster social inclusion.
The Mayor of the City, Hicham Jebbari, underscored the importance of creative activities, based on cultural heritage and in cooperation with local experts, to implement strategies for local public policies laying the ground for an environment of inclusion and equality of opportunities. In this regard, the City cooperates with the Essaouira Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of Culture and with civil society actors, including the Association Essaouira-Mogador.
Linda Tinio-Le Douarin, Coordinator of UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, presented several initiatives juxtaposing the cultural and social dimensions which are undertaken by member cities from each region – grants to associations to combat discriminations, establishment of centers for intercultural dialogue, equal opportunity programmes or cultural and sports festivals – which all aim to contribute to living together in urban spaces. From Montevideo to Bologna, from Vancouver to Essaouira and Indonesian cities, there are many examples of city projects attesting to the engagement to endorse human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity and social inclusion as drivers of peace and sustainable development.
Representatives of the Essaouira Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of Culture and the Association Essaouira-Mogador, which are long-standing partners of the City, emphasized the pivotal role of civil society for cultural initiatives with social goals highlighting humanistic values in the fight against racism and xenophobia. In order to implement the Tunis Declaration, adopted by the Coalition of Arab Cities in April 2017, enhanced cooperation between UNESCO, the City of Essaouira and its partners will be ensured.
The Coalition of Arab Cities, composed of 22 member cities, aims to establish a network of cities to share good practices at regional and international levels to improve policies to combat all forms of exclusion and discrimination. Since the end of 2017, Essaouira has become co-lead city with Nouakchott (Mauritania) of the Coalition of Arab Cities, which is part of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR.