UNESCO Director-General's Message for 2012
Nowruz is a day to celebrate the renewal of life. This is a moment to reflect on the past and look to the future with hope. It is a time for friends, family, and communities to join together around shared values and aspirations.
This has been celebrated for millennia by peoples of Western, Central and South Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and other regions. Nowruz represents a rich tapestry today, weaving together customs, rituals and festivities in harmony with nature. This is a day of chants, dances, games, and festive meals – a day that bridges the past with the future and that brings together peoples of different cultures, nationalities, religions, and languages around a message of peace.
Guided by this open spirit, this is a celebration of sharing. Nowruz embodies the power of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Transmitted from generation to generation, Nowruz sustains a sense of identity and continuity that stretches across borders. This is why Nowruz was inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, established under UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This was the result of joint efforts by several countries where Nowruz is celebrated.
More than ever at this time of rapid change, we need cultural celebrations that join people and strengthen ties between society and nature. Culture is a source of social cohesion and wisdom. It provides a map by which to read the world and a direction through which to shape it. It carries also great benefits in development and environmental sustainability to all communities involved. As we prepare for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, we must recognize the importance of culture as a foundation for a more sustainable future for all.
More than anything, Nowruz is a day of promise – the promise of life renewed and hope refreshed. On this first day of Spring, we must all carry this message of peace, harmony and reconciliation.