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Best way to promote inter-civilization exchanges is through young people: UNESCO official

(People's Daily Online)    18:48, May 16, 2019

An agreement between China and UNESCO to sponsor young scholars to conduct research along the Silk Road was signed during the parallel session, "Safeguarding the diversity of Asian civilizations," on Wednesday, as part of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations.

Representing UNESCO on the project, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, said the best way for UNESCO and China to better promote inter-civilization exchanges between countries all over the world is through young people.

"We are putting a lot of investment on young people, as China has historically," she noted during an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online during the CDAC.

China vowed to provide $1 million to aid scholars under 35 years old to conduct research on the Silk Road, which aims to promote education in a bid to push forward the dialogue between civilizations.

"We are modernizing the understanding of the ancient Silk Road, while also making sure the Silk Road is about young people," Al-Nashif continued. "This way, they can learn lessons about the past and better comprehend how so much knowledge was spread through that vast network so many centuries ago."

"UNESCO has had to rethink how we work with young people," Al-Nashif said. "We don't see it appropriate that we continue to treat young people as beneficiaries, meaning passing on planned projects for them to simply implement. We are starting to work with them as full partners: we design initiatives together, which we implement together - and we hold each other accountable," she said.


Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences had an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online during the CDAC.(Photo: He Zhuoyan/People's Daily Online)

As an agency of the United Nations that specializes in education, science and culture, UNESCO plays an active role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the globally-agreed blueprint for peace and prosperity for humans and the planet.

"We are firmly committed to understanding the idea of this integrated development of social, economic and environmental sustainability all at the same time," opined Al-Nashif. "The objective is social justice and the commitment to leave no one behind, which China has been working on for a very long time, with its poverty alleviation efforts as well as its economic growth," she noted.

During a keynote speech at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about inter-civilization exchanges and mutual learning, and a community with a shared future for humankind, a concept that UNESCO has also championed for years.

"When President Xi came to UNESCO, we had just launched the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures," Al-Nashif said, adding that the international decade from 2013 to 2022 is a commitment to address the pressing need of a universal global consciousness free from stereotypes and prejudices and to demonstrate new articulations between cultural diversity and universal values. "President Xi gave it a tangible meaning with this idea of a community with a shared future for humankind," she said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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