NEWSMAKER: UNESCO chief stresses key role in dealing with globalization

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

29 July 2010 – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has a vital role to play in ensuring that globalization is not a two-speed process that leaves some peoples and communities lagging behind, the chief of the agency has stressed.

Irina Bokova, who became Director-General of UNESCO late last year, told the UN News Centre in an interview that the Paris-based entity is in a “fight every day” to ensure that globalization does not hurt minority cultures and other vulnerable groups.

“The planet today looks like a global village, but it does not mean the people and communities do not feel less isolated and threatened,” she said, adding that globalization should always be accompanied by cultural diversity.

“UNESCO is trying to give them a kind of confidence, protecting cultures, the heritage and the languages, helping those who are behind in education, science and information so that there won’t be a two-speed globalization, or so that globalization is not perceived as a dangerous threat but as a source of opportunity, progress and development.”

Ms. Bokova said UNESCO is therefore promoting partnerships and alliances involving States, peoples, organizations and civil society groups, both to foster links between different groups and to ensure that globalization does not flatten the world and make everyone the same.

The Director-General said that in her term of office she wants to focus on a “new humanism” which aims to create a more inclusive world so that everyone has a chance to access knowledge and diversity.

“For example, 2010 is the Year of Biodiversity for the UN, with the idea that there is no life on Earth without biodiversity. Well, is it not the same thing with cultural diversity? Humans, can they live without cultural diversity?”

In the interview Ms. Bokova also pledged to make UNESCO a more dynamic and coordinated UN agency by removing unnecessary bureaucracy and reducing administrative costs.

“We are also working a lot on our presence on the ground. In October I will present a report to Member States about the means to accelerate reforms to enhance our operations in the field and explore how we can best fit in the UN strategy called ‘One UN,’ which aims to better coordinate the actions of organizations, agencies, programmes and other structures dependent on the UN.”

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