CCUNESCO and the World

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Bringing Canadian Voices to the International Stage

We participated in several international events in 2015/16 that built on our overarching priorities of equity, peace and sustainable development on a global scale. Thanks to our support, Canadian members, partners and experts joined several forums and cultural activities that covered topics such as freedom of the press and freedom of expression, sustainability, and inclusive education, economies and societies. Below are just some of the year's highlights.

In 2015, we lent our support to BOW'T TRAIL, a showcase for the dance, music and storytelling styles influenced by African culture worldwide. This inter-cultural initiative is led by Canadian artist Rhodnie Désir, a UNESCO Artist-Ambassador for the International Decade for People of African Descent. BOW'T TRAIL foregrounds the cultural contributions of those who left Africa, too often against their will. The production will tour 40 countries over 400 days, beginning in Martinique. Ms. Désir was awarded Média Mosaïque's Lys de la Diversité du Québec for her project.

Photo: NOW Photography

This conference, held at Université Laval in May, in Quebec City, took stock of how the Convention has been applied over the past 10 years and looked to the future. Three objectives were pursued: mobilize academic, cultural and governmental communities; prepare the next generation of researchers; and promote inter-university and interdisciplinary cooperation on Convention-related issues and challenges. President Christina Cameron took part in a well-received panel about culture as a lever for development and social cohesion.

On April 30th, journalists, parliamentarians, diplomats and students attended the annual luncheon organized by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) in partnership with the Commission. Canadian journalist Kathy Gannon, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan, received the Press Freedom Prize, while American Signe Wilkinson took top prize in the 15th World Press Freedom International Editorial Cartoon Competition for her cartoon on the theme "Press freedom has a value, but also a price." A day earlier, our network of UNESCO Associated Schools together with Edmonton's Centre for Global Education organized a videoconference with high school students from Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Alaska, Taiwan and Johannesburg. The topic of discussion was freedom of expression.

Photo: Signe Wilkinson (middle), USA (1st prize), Elchicotriste (left), Spain (2nd prize), Ebrahim Ghanei (right), Iran (3rd prize)

This June conference, held in Paris, was organized by experts in education, culture, social sciences, communication and information to better engage young people in solving the challenges of extremism and radicalization on the Internet. It provided an opportunity for youth practitioners, officials, academics, policy-makers and NGOs from a range of institutions and disciplines to exchange knowledge about effective policies and practices. We supported the participation of Université Laval's Centre interuniversitaire d'études sur les lettres, les arts et les traditions, whose researchers presented their findings to an international audience.

One of the most talked-about conferences this year took place in March in Lima, Peru, where UNESCO's The Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme announced 20 newly designated biosphere reserves, including two in Canada: the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve in Alberta, and the Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve, the first in the Northwest Territories. Stewardship of the latter will be led by the Sahtúto'ine Dene of Great Bear Lake—the last pristine Arctic lake. Significant outcomes of the Congress were the Lima Declaration and the finalization and endorsement of the Lima Action Plan 2016-2025, which will guide the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in protecting delicate ecosystems worldwide. The Congress was held in conjunction with the 28th Session of the International Coordinating Council of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere.

December 2015 saw a powerful new knowledge-sharing initiative emerge in Paris that brought together stakeholders in education, business and NGOs, including UNESCO-UNEVOC. Member Daniel LaBillois, instructor and researcher at CEGEP de la Gaspésie et des Îles, participated in this crucial forum to engage educators, policy-makers and business leaders in "shaping an inclusive green economy" that contributes to the sustainability and prosperity goals of Agenda 2030. Attendees produced the draft Paris Summary Statement on Learning for an Inclusive Green Economy and hope to create a Global Network of Learning Institutions.

Photo: Giuliano Montanari - UNITAR