On 14 May, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated in the ceremony opening UNESCO’s International Congress on “Culture -- the Key to Sustainable Development”. The ceremony was organized by the Municipal Government of Hangzhou, in the presence of Mr. Hao Ping, Vice Minister of Education and Chairman of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. Wang Jincai, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of the municipality of Hangzhou and Yang Shubiao, Deputy Mayor of the city.
"Culture must be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, and China’s support will be crucial to achieve this," said the Director-General in her introduction.
Throughout the day, preparatory workshops were held, addressing various topics on the agenda of the Congress in preparation of the official opening to be held on 15 May. Irina Bokova met with the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, and underlined the Organization’s the importance of this moment in the movement to advocate for culture and development, in the run-up to 2015: "Culture was not part of the debate on the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. We must recognize it as an driver and an enabler of development. China has taken the important decision in 2011 to place culture at the forefront of development, and this is a great asset for us," said the Director-General.
Irina Bokova held several meetings with delegations from the cities of Shenzhen and Beijing, both members of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. In an exchange with Professor Yan Aoshuang, Head of the Scientific and Technological Committee of Beijing, the Director-General highlighted that "cities have been considered for a long time for their material functions, to provide infrastructure, water, transportation, but their contribution goes far beyond. Cities are places for meeting and sharing ideas, to foster innovation and creativity. The development of urban cultural policy is positive and the dynamic of the network of Creative Cities, especially in China, is an inspiration," said the Director-General.