The third edition of the Long Nights of Interculturality 2020, under UNESCO patronage

#safeguardingdiversity virtually

 

The current global pandemic did not stop ICDO from celebrating diversity and interculturality! Thanks to this year’s virtual edition, ICDO’s Long Nights of Interculturality 2020 was as inclusive as possible – inviting the audience from every corner of the planet to participate in various events, directly from their homes.

The annual festival under UNESCO patronage had its opening event on September 14, 2020, with opening remarks given by ICDO President Josipa Palac and ICDO Honorary Ambassador Alberto Nodale, who invited people from all over the world to join ICDO in this spectacular, virtual, six-day celebration of diversity and interculturality. ICDO was privileged to host prominent guests H. E. Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad, Ambassador of the Philippine Embassy in Vienna, Austria, H.E. Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna, and Mr. Emil Stojanovski, Deputy Head of the Mission of Australian Embassy to the United Nations, who opened the event with insightful and optimistic statements on ‘Multidisciplinary Approaches to the COVID-19 Crisis and Cultural Diversity Knowledge Around the World’.

H.E. Ambassador Maria Cleofe R. Natividad shared important insights into how the pandemic has affected indigenous communities in the Philippines, where they constitute around 15% of the total population.

 

“Culture is key to understanding our diversity and promoting people to people exchanges. When we are able to interact and feel each other can we truly be able to move forward and change the world for the better”, said H.E. Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad.

The country, one of the first ones to internationally introduce national laws for the protection of indigenous peoples, has relentlessly worked and done its best to assess the vulnerability of marginalized groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ambassador remarked the importance of the preservation of indigenous heritage to affirm the country’s heterogeneous identity and the need for multidisciplinary approaches to cope with the pandemic and ensure the inclusion of all members of society. Finally, the Ambassador concluded by giving her support to IGOs and NGOs like ICDO that, working on the field and helping governments collect and analyze data, are vital for the establishment of appropriate policies to safeguard marginalized communities. 

The discussion was enriched by Mr. Emil Stojanovski, who focused his intervention on the accessibility of information during the pandemic. Mr. Stojanovski shed light on the diversity of circumstances and needs of citizens in this COVID-19 crisis, and the importance of having universal access to information. For instance, in order to make sure non-English speakers understood the global situation, the Australian COVID-19 information portal and the websites of State governments were translated to over 63 languages.

“Misinformation and disinformation have never been more harmful, more deadly than during this pandemic. Governments around the world are doing everything they can to avoid not only the virus but also the disinformation and misinformation that have spread like wildfires”, stated Mr. Emil Stojanovski.

Mr. Stojanovski shared the efforts the Australian government is making to address malign actions and deliberate misinformation campaigns, which have affected mainly the most vulnerable, such as newly arrived migrants, people with disabilities, and indigenous peoples. 

The discussion was concluded by H.E. Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, who opened her intervention by describing Vienna as the perfect center for intercultural dialogues. The Ambassador shared her appreciation for ICDO’s goal of bringing people together and bridging cultural gaps between countries, is it in line with the message she always sends to fellow Afghans abroad:

“I encourage you to get indignated, educated, and contribute to the society becoming role models and ambassadors of peace and understanding among cultures”.

The Ambassador concluded her remarks on fostering values of tolerance, cooperation, and gender equality. In order to effectively address this global challenge, international support, participation and leadership of women, and communication are now needed more than ever. 

ICDO would like to thank the eminent representatives of the Embassies in Vienna for participating in this interesting opening panel and the large audience around the world who celebrated and safeguarded diversity with us last week and invite you to watch it in case you missed it.