World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

21 May 2007

Message from Mr Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development affords the international community a welcome opportunity to reflect, in consonance with the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), on the integration of the principles of dialogue, understood as a corollary of diversity, into all development strategies.

It thus encourages us to think anew about our use of words and concepts, and the social and cultural dynamics at work in our societies. Indeed, cultural diversity relates to the differentiated functioning of constantly open societies and cultures that are founded on the interplay of interactions, transfers, inertia and resistance.

It is against this yardstick that the principles of cultural diversity and pluralism must be integrated in innovative ways into all national policies, in particular those relating to quality education, the environment, heritage management, the media, information technology and creative industries.

In adopting and reformulating the terms of such a debate, with all the decision-makers and stakeholders concerned, intercultural dialogue and cultural development must be placed at the heart of national development plans and of the joint programming tools of the United Nations system. The special emphasis placed on this approach and on the potential for all cultures and cultural expressions to gain access to the development opportunities opened up by globalization is concomitantly opportune and necessary as we endeavour to promote social cohesion, peace and poverty reduction. We shall thus genuinely be Delivering as One.

By helping to transform our representations of the factors that bind us to each other, by identifying the various places and possible levels of cultural interaction and by making dialogue central to the processes of socialization and creativity, we shall be able to remove the obstacles to intercultural dialogue one by one. We shall thus, moreover, gain a better understanding of the various means, other than the "clash of civilizations", by which crisis in cultural relations is expressed today.

To mark this day, I therefore invite all development stakeholders to give substance and voice to creative diversity which, as the evidence shows, only flourishes from day to day within the framework of a free and pluralistic flow of knowledge, practices and imaginary ideas.

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