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New year speech by the President of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

Prof. Puglisi

On January 10 the Italian National Commission for UNESCO held its new year General Assembly.
2013 has started on difficult premises for our county’s history, and in the lives of our citizens. The global crisis has taken a specific dimension in Italy – very different from other EU countries – because of its specific structural deficiencies – namely, the gap between North and South and the lack of shared infrastructures. This brought President Napolitano, during his end-of-year speech, the last of his seven-year term, to speak of a « true social issue, which must be brought to the attention and the core of public action ».

During our general Assembly, I also chose to pinpoint the crucial issue of culture. The latter is, in fact, strictly connected to the former. Just as economic development in the Western world is nowadays strictly interwoven to the growth of cultural consumption and cultural industries. And, most of all, as social cohesion has always been linked to a shared cultural identity.

The cultural issue, and the need to find a quick and viable solution to it, is also what motivates UNESCO’s presence in Italy. It echoes to the conviction lying behind the London Treaty which was signed by our country on November 16 1945 that only through education, science and culture can mankind find peace and wellbeing. Therefore, by strengthening Italy’s efforts within UNESCO we also redefine strategies for developing our nation.

Italy’s future, from North to South, also (mosty) depends on our capacity to share and implement UNESCO’s work on the territory. Which means: protecting its 47 sites inscribed in the World Heritage List and the diversity of its cultural expressions. Safeguarding its priceless intangible cultural heritage. Developing its rich archives heritage, as well as scientific research. Italy’s international credibility also (mostly) depends on our capacity to take a stand on the cultural and political international fora, starting with UNESCO.

In order to reach these objectives – increasing the Italian engagement on education, science and culture while strengthening our credibility and prestige abroad – I know that our National Commission can count, more than ever, on the Italian permanent Delegation to UNESCO and, in particular, on its Ambassador, H.E. Maurizio Enrico Serra.

I am sure that together we will ensure Italy’s position as one of the key and most active members of UNESCO on all sectors, and not only as its first extra budgetary contributor.

Prof. Giovanni Puglisi