UNESCO: ‘Dialogue for the Future’ regional initiative highlights the importance of intercultural dialogue and social cohesion

UNESCO/ 12 August, 2021/ Source/ https://en.unesco.org/

The results of the joint regional initiative “Dialogue for the Future: Improving Dialogue and Social Cohesion in and between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia” were showcased in April in a two-day Regional Dialogue Platform event, convened simultaneously in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Podgorica. The programme has been implemented over 2 years in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro with the support of the 3 UN agencies – UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP – and funding from the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

The event summarised the results of the two-year regional programme and indicated possible directions for further development. It gathered a multitude of participants from various backgrounds such as those from the government institutions within the 3 countries, as well as representatives of numerous programmes – citizens, NGOs, youth, youth associations, educational institutions, as well as the media. The regional dialogue platform presented a perfect opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learned through cross-border cooperation, carried out through 19 dialogue platforms, 19 cross-border projects that have facilitated 43 partnerships, 40 local projects of adolescents and youth in 33 municipalities, with a reach of more than 5,000 direct beneficiaries.

Your region has been characterised by a diverse history, ranging from conflict to peace, but it is in your hands to create the region’s journey going forward. This is both a great responsibility but also an opportunity, and the United Nations stands ready to support you with this mission.”, stressed Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. “As we look to recover better together from COVID-19 by strengthening peace, mutual understanding and trust, youth must not just be a target of action but a central part of the plan and decision-making.”

In this time of global crisis, we see how important it is to maintain social ties. Trust in people and institutions, respect for social rules, civic participation and volunteerism and solidarity were instrumental in responding to the pandemic.”, underlined Ingrid Macdonald, UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Inclusive and resilient institutions are essential to sustainable development and peaceful societies. Building social cohesion strengthens the resilience of states and societies as they change and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. I am pleased to know that, through this Joint Programme, we have played a role in achieving this.”

© UNESCO

During the closing session, Sinisa Sesum, Head of the Antenna in Sarajevo of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, recalled the very beginnings of the Dialogue for the Future (DFF) project back in 2012 and what had been learned since. He commented, “There are many definitions of social cohesion, but after 10 years we can fairly say that social cohesion is a continual dialogue and an endless interaction. And, this project has proven that only through dialogue we can move towards a better future.”

Referring to the UNESCO’s mandate, Sinisa Sesum emphasised that any World Heritage site to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List must be of outstanding universal value. “Likewise, youth, education, cultural diversity, empathy, connectedness, solidarity, intergenerational solidarity, all these are of an outstanding universal value – the value of dialogue and social cohesion we promoted in the last 28 months”, he added. “I am truly proud to have the opportunity to participate in this project and jointly contribute to underlining the importance of social cohesion and even more the importance of the intercultural dialogue among people. This dialogue mustn’t stop.”

Recalling the interesting statement of one of the project participants who highlighted that regardless of speaking different languages all participants understood each other. Sinisa Sesum noted, “Young people from 3 participating countries, understand each other very well, as having similar or even same problems and challenges. Therefore, we have a moral obligation, as the UN, to continue such initiatives and strengthen the connection among youth within the region.” He stressed the significance of cultural diversity and its richness especially in this region, “It is our responsibility to further promote and strengthen cultural diversity, because the cultural diversity is not an anomaly but value of every society and every country – and we must do the utmost to protect it because that is the only way forward.”

Since the Programme’s launch in January 2019, 1,230 adolescents and young people have been trained in socioemotional skills, advocacy, leadership, teamwork, mobile journalism, public policy processes, media and information literacy. 221 girls and women have been empowered for social activism through educational seminars on leadership, gender equality, social cohesion. 490 teachers and librarians were trained to teach media and information literacy and civic education. 108 journalists and editors have had lectures on media and information literacy, objectivity and fair reporting.

© UNESCO

In addition to the capacity building of teachers, librarians and media professionals, UNESCO supported the implementation of 7 cross-border projects: Territory of Culture, Art of Democracy – Theatre as Dialogue, Intercultural Dialogue-Dialogue for the Future, Story of Diversity-Living Library, Interculturalism in Education, The Art of Understanding, and Education for the Sustainable Development of UNESCO Heritage.

Darin Ramic Mazalovic, student at the Gymnasium SSST in Sarajevo, a participant in the Interculturalism in Education project acknowledged, “Through this workshop we addressed one universal problem through art form. This was an excellent opportunity to network with another school, to meet new friends and colleagues, and to be guided by some of the best mentors I have ever met. Several friends recommended my joining the project, seeing it as a great opportunity to volunteer and also to learn something new that we can apply throughout our lives and schooling.”

The joint regional programme “Dialogue for the Future: Promoting Dialogue and Social Cohesion in and between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia” is implemented by UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP, and funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UN PBF).

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UNESCO: ‘Dialogue for the Future’ regional initiative highlights the importance of intercultural dialogue and social cohesion – Sarraute Educación María Magdalena

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