Youth Mobilize for Creativity, Heritage and Peace along the Silk Roads
Over 80 young people from 65 countries have adopted an international Declaration affirming their desire to promote peaceful coexistence and sustainable development through recognition and celebration of the Silk Roads.
At an International Youth Forum held in Changsha and Quanzhou, China, from 17 to 22 April 2017, participants agreed to expand their engagement in protecting and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage and to promote creativity in their respective home countries, in line with UNESCO's Operational Strategy on Youth (2014-2021). In their Declaration, the youth called for promotion of youth organizations and the creation of cultural festivals, greater protection of cultural heritage including the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects, and promotion of sustainable tourism along the Silk Roads including programs that can provide youth employment opportunities in Silk Road Countries.
“ (…) we reassert the importance of ensuring youth full engagement in creative endeavors that can bring new ideas and solutions for the benefit of all, through creative industries and arts, education, and opportunities for partnership,” they declared.
Over the course of six days, youth delegates exchanged with international experts, visited heritage sites, experienced different forms of intangible cultural heritage and creative arts, and debated on how young people could strengthen their participation in the preservation and protection of culture.
“There are 1.2 billion young people in the world. 87% are living in developing countries. Some of them have never gone beyond their countries or even their own cities or townships. You are the lucky ones. You have access to quality education… How are you going to transform your advantage in the society into opportunities of serving others?” stated Du Yue, Secretary-General, Chinese National Commission for UNESCO.
Guo Zhan, Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Relics, further challenged them, discussing how cultural heritage is a tool for the promotion of peace and development, and asking them to reflect in their commitment on questions such as “Has world heritage contributed to our understanding of diversity? Has it contributed to the future of the global environment?”
The two sessions – the first in Changsha on creativity, the second in Quanzhou on tangible and intangible heritage – resulted in participants formulating a number of recommendations and commitments. Strong, new momentum was generated for engagement within the fields of cultural heritage, intergenerational/intercultural collaboration and creative industries.
In this connection, the Changsha Municipality announced that it will establish “an International Creativity and Heritage Special Fund with 100,000 USD each year… to cultivate young talents with creativity”, establish an online international exchange website and provide training and internship programs in the creative industries in Changsha.
UNESCO introduced participants to its global pilot project on the Creation of an Open Digital Library on Traditional Games and the #Unite4Heritage global campaign.
The Forum was organized by UNESCO and the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with the Municipalities of Changsha and Quanzhou.
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