In his address today to the 37th UNESCO General Conference in Paris, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Mario Giro reiterated the central role of culture as an instrument of peace and economic growth in crisis response situations.
“I’d like to congratulate you on the reform effort undertaken by the Director General”, commented the Secretary of State. Giro reiterated that over the next two years Italy intends to go on collaborating with UNESCO both in implementing the various international conventions and at the operational and training levels. In this, our country will draw on the expertise of the Carabinieri in combating illegal trafficking in cultural assets. Secretary of State Giro proposed “an initial, concrete step in the Mediterranean region, with a cooperation initiative to protect the undersea cultural heritage from plundering”.
Giro also announced that in 2014 Italy will host the Cultural and Creative Industry Forum and in 2015, in Monza, the Forum on food issues. The latter is linked to Expo 2015 – an enterprise from which Italy expects a significant spur to economic growth. “These initiatives show that Italy is a great cultural power, as witnessed by our commitment to UNESCO. We must now move up another gear and convey to Italy’s regions the message that UNESCO is an extraordinary opportunity. It is a means to showcase their artistic and cultural treasures and experience, and thus take forward their internationalisation effort”, concluded the Secretary of State.
Italy is UNESCO’s second funding country and the host to important UNESCO centres like the science hub in Trieste, which over the last 5 decades has trained over 100,000 scientists from developing countries. Our country is also home to UNESCO’s regional office in Venice, which is engaged in programmes to promote a culture of science and peace in the Balkans, and the World Water Assessment Programme, recently transferred to Perugia.