Rabu, 30 November 2011

UNESCO CHIEF'S VISIT BRINGS AGENCY CLOSER TO INDONESIA by Fardah

       Jakarta, Nov 30, 2011 (ANTARA) - UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova made her first official visit to Indonesia from November 19 to 25 during which she went through a quite hectic agenda.
       Within the relatively short period of six days, she among other things visited the World Heritage site of Borobudur in Magelang, Central Java, Bali Island and Jakarta.
      When visiting Borobudur Temple on November 19, Irina, a Bulgarian senior diplomat who was elected as UNESCO Director General in 2009 for four years, planted a bodhi tree, laid a stone and rewarded community workers in a ceremony to mark the end of a nearly two-year cleaning operation at the Buddhist temple following the eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010.
      "The 2010 eruptions tell a story of destruction -- but, together, we are writing a new tale, one of resilience and unity," said the Director-General, who celebrated the clean-up operation under a tropical rain alongside Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh.
      Irina and Nuh gave certificates to two elementary school students representing some 550 local community members who cleaned the temple and its intricate bas-reliefs, under the supervision of the Indonesian Culture and Tourism Ministry.
       They also presented special certificates to two donor representatives and to the Friends of Borobodur.
       Built by a king of the Saliendra dynasty between AD 750 and 842, the temple was restored with UNESCO`s help in the 1970s.
      From Magelang, she went to Nusa Dua, Bali Island, to officially open the Sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held from November 22 to 29, 2011.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Bali meeting, Irina said "The Intangible Heritage Convention is an opportunity to discover living cultural expressions from across the world."

"Intangible cultural heritage is our bridge from the past to the future," she said, adding that "It is the precious possession of communities, groups and individuals - only they can safeguard it and pass it on to generations to come. Our role as international organizations and governments is to support these efforts in every way we can."

During the week-long meeting, the Committee finally managed to select 11 items to be added to the List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent safeguarding, 19 others were inscribed on the Representative List, and five Best safeguarding Practices were selected.

The Saman Dance from the eastern most Indonesian province of Aceh was named among items in need of urgent safeguarding.

The Bali meeting was the longest session held by the Committee so far and had yield many decisions and recommendations, the tourism and creative economic ministry`s Director General for Cultural Value, Arts and Film Ukus Kuswara said following the closing of the session in Nusa Dua, on November 29, 2011.

"We are grateful because we were able to gather 535 delegates from 70 countries," Ukus said.

In Bali, Irina also visited the cultural landscape of Bali which has been proposed by the Indonesian Government for inscription onto the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The visit covered some of the proposed sites, such as Taman Ayun Temple and Batukaru Temple, a unique and sacred mountain sanctuary, and the royal temple of Tabanan dynasty, located in the middle of a rain forest and beneath Mount Batukaru.

The DG also visited the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, which are located in the Regency of Tabanan, about 700 metres above the sea level. The site is managed by an elaborate community-based traditional irrigation system, known as the `subak` system, which symbolizes the Balinese Tri Hita Karana concept that binds Gods, human and nature together.

She later visited the Tsunami Early Warning Centre (InaTEWS) at the Meteorological, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) office in Jakarta on November 24, to see firsthand how the center operates, according to a press statement of UNESCO Jakarta office.

At the InaTEWS, which is one of the three regional service providers for twenty-three Indian Ocean rim countries, Irina was received warmly by the Director General of BMKG Sriworo B. Harijono.

Irina said through the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), UNESCO would continue to support the global coordination of tsunami early warning systems.

The UN body will also continue to support countries in need in making sure that people at risk will have access and information for tsunami awareness, preparedness and education through communities as well as school based disaster preparedness programmes.

UNESCO is working with the Centre and other Indonesian partners to train teachers and students about how to react and to help each other when a warning is issued. When schools have such standard operating procedures in place, many lives can be saved.

A tsunami early warning center is crucial for Indonesia which is vulnerable to a tsunami. On December 26, 2004, a gigantic tsunami devastated Aceh Province and killed over 160,000 people.

In Jakarta, she also joined a worldwide online-lecture about building green societies involving universities worldwide, and participated in a special session of Indonesia`s House of Representatives on "The Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Eradication."

In the panel discussion hosted by the Parliament`s MDGs Task Force and UNESCO, Irina Bokova highlighted the role of UNESCO in the efforts to eradicate poverty, UNESCO`s Jakarta Office said.

Irina pointed out education as one of the major drivers for poverty eradication. She explained that "societies that make education a priority are more resilient".

On the other hand, she said that "development cannot be disconnected from human dignity. The government should work with focus on the vulnerable and the marginalized".

House Speaker Marzuki Alie, who also took part in the panel discussion, thanked UNESCO and the United Nations for their support on the achievement of the MDGs.

He said that "the MDGs are not just a commitment of the international community, but something that has to be done for the welfare and prosperity of the Indonesian people."

The special session was part of a two-day UNESCO-workshop on "Enhancing Capacities of the Poor through the Promotion of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" that took place in Jakarta from November 24-25, 2011.

The UNESCO workshop, organized in the framework of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, is part of UNESCO`s efforts to advance social inclusion through the development of innovative approaches to fight marginalization, poverty and exclusion.

Throughout her visit, she also met with senior government officials including with Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono, Minister Mohammad Nuh, and Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu, to discuss UNESCO`s cooperation with Indonesia.

Indonesia has supported UNESCO`s decision to accept Palestine as a full member recently, which has caused the UN body to loose financial contribution from the United States which is against the Palestinian membership in the UN organization.

As UNESCO is financially experiencing difficult times, the Indonesian government has pledged $10 million to support the activities of UNESCO.

The Director-General expressed her gratitude for this significant and timely contribution, affirming that it would support UNESCO`s core activities, including the preservation of heritage, capacity building and improving the quality of education.

A substantial part of the funding would be used for programs to support Indonesia and the ASEAN region, she said. ***6***

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(T.F001/A/F001/F001) 30-11-2011 15:38:24

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