September 14

Opening Ceremony

Time: 17:00-18:00 CET

The opening of the third, virtual edition of the Long Nights of Interculturality 2020, the annual public festival under UNESCO patronage, kicked off on the 14th of September.

After the welcoming speeches by Josipa Palac, ICDO President and Alberto Nodale, ICDO Ambassador, prominent guests H. E. Maria Cleofe Natividad, Ambassador of the Philippine Embassy in Vienna, Austria, H.E. Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, Ambassador of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Vienna, and Mr. Emil Stojanovski, Deputy Head of the Mission of Australian Embassy to the United Nations, opened the event with insightful and optimistic statements on ‘Multidisciplinary Approaches to the COVID-19 Crisis and Cultural Diversity Knowledge Around the World’.

The Philippines, one of the first countries 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.

“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.

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 Emil Stojanovski, who focused his intervention on the accessibility of information during the pandemic. 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.

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.

“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.

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