Nowruz is an opportunity to bolster UN goal to 'leave no one behind' on road to sustainable future – Ban

Afghans celebrate Nowruz – New Year – with special meals, decorations and gifts and it's a time for renewal and for promoting peace and solidarity. Photo: UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

21 March 2016 – On the first year of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations celebrates Nowruz, “an ancient tradition with modern relevance,” as an occasion to strengthen the international community's resolve to leave no one behind in the collective journey to a better future.

Underscoring “our vision for a life of dignity for all people,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the Day, said: “Let us enable all people who celebrate Nowruz to celebrate with joy and meaning – and let us spread its essential message of hope and renewal around the world."

Mr. Ban also pointed out that this was also the first year of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, which “possesses enormous potential to open a new future.”

Nowruz, which marks the first day of spring and the renewal of nature, is celebrated by more than 300 million people all around the world and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions. It promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighbourliness, thus contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities.

Stressing that conflict, discrimination and other violations of human rights continue to take an immense toll, the Secretary-General said: “We must respond with compassionate action that addresses immediate suffering while tackling root causes. With its focus on good relations, environmental stewardship and lasting peace, Nowruz is an occasion to strengthen our resolve to leave no one behind in our journey to a better future.”

In 2009, Nowruz was inscribed on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and was, the following year, proclaimed by the General Assembly.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called Norwruz “an outstanding manifestation of how living cultural heritage expresses the way we understand the world and the means by which we shape it for the good of all.”

In her message, Ms. Bokova said that the celebration “brings together local traditions, accompanied by rituals that vary from one community to another,” which together “embody the shared human aspiration to experience moments of togetherness, solidarity and joy, representing a bridge from the past to the future, an annual commitment renewed to rising generations.”

To see Nowruz celebrated around the world, check out our photo story: Ringing in the Year 1395.

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