Posted by: bluesyemre | May 22, 2019

#CulturalDiversity: A Necessity in Our Changing World


Left to right: two boys at Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia; girls in traditional Dong clothing in Dali Village, Guizhou Province, China; schoolchildren at the Ableizhi school near Ciudad Perdida, Colombia. ©Global Heritage Fund

To protect human rights, we must recognize cultural diversity as a crucial component of sustainable development and inclusive dialogue…

On May 21, we celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. As the leader of an international heritage organization, I know firsthand that supporting communities and protecting their human rights is impossible without sensitivity toward cultural diversity

Our world has a truly dazzling array of cultures. From remote villages in China to the wild jungles of Colombia, the world’s many peoples have created unique histories that bind them to one another and to their special places. Acknowledging the conditions that shaped a people and their history is critical to understanding the challenges they face today – and developing the means to meet them.

In our work at Global Heritage Fund, we protect the world’s special places and traditions so that coming generations can enjoy their history far into the future. Our success in the field is rooted in our understanding, sensitivity, and appreciation of the cultural diversity that makes our world a magical place to be.

For World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, I ask you to reflect on the importance of cultural diversity for protecting cultural heritage and promoting the human rights of those who steward it.

1. Cultural diversity supports local development.

Cultural diversity is key to local, sustainable development that helps communities lift themselves out of poverty. By tailoring development goals to the unique histories of each community, it is possible to provide solutions that are longer lasting and more impactful than one-size-fits-all approaches. Embracing the nuances of cultural diversity empowers people to take ownership over their past, improve their present, and build a better future for their children.

“Cultural diversity gives our life its richness, its color and its dynamism. It is a cognitive and intellectual opening and a driving force for social development and economic growth.”

– Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

2. Cultural diversity promotes inclusive dialogues.

Cultural diversity is essential for elevating diverse voices. At our projects around the world, I’ve seen how diversity brings unique perspectives to our work, helping us to be more thoughtful and empathetic in how we treat people and their history. Cultural diversity encourages creativity and the exchange of ideas, as well as fostering meaningful dialogue around global issues that impact all members of society.

3. Cultural diversity is our shared human heritage.

Cultural diversity is the bedrock of our global heritage — just ask international organizations such as UNESCO. By wedding cultural rights to human rights, UNESCO has made it clear that cultural diversity is a vital component of today’s society:

“Cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.”

– Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001

Cultural diversity is our shared heritage – the many histories, traditions, and monuments that in their many forms showcase the stunning vitality of humankind – and we must all vigilantly protect it for future generations.

4. Cultural diversity fosters peace.

Cultural diversity fosters peace by demanding respect for human life regardless of different traditions, histories, and customs. Today, it is not enough to ask for tolerance. To truly protect human rights, we must actively champion cultural diversity.

5. Cultural diversity is good business.

Finally, cultural diversity is important for remaining economically competitive in our global world. Creating a diverse workforce is about more than giving representation to different groups in a society. It enables workers and employers to share an array of experiences and viewpoints that strengthens their work, making them more adaptable to new trends and giving them an advantage over competitors with less breadth of experience.

Embracing cultural diversity is a priceless opportunity to alleviate poverty, empower communities, and promote peace. Join me today and every day in celebrating cultural diversity as a powerful force for human rights.

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