2023 IYF | High-level Panel Discussions
The International Youth Forum (IYF) on Creativity and Heritage along the Silk Roads is an annual forum initiated by UNESCO, the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO, local governments in China, and the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres, and Associations (WFUCA), since 2017. The past Forums have gathered over 600 young participants from 137 countries, creating space for intercultural dialogue among youth from countries especially along the terrestrial and maritime Silk Roads.
The 2023 IYF was organized jointly by UNESCO, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, Changsha and Nanjing Municipal Governments, and WFUCA from 26 to 30 June in the cities of Changsha and Nanjing. The 2023 IYF hosted three high-level panel discussions, namely a High-Level Forum panel discussion and two High-Level Roundtable Dialogues. All three were moderated by Mr. Robert Parua, Programme Specialist for Education of UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office for East Asia. The high-level panel discussions mainly consisted of Q&A by the moderator and guests, and then opened for discussion with youth participants. These panel discussions were aimed at enhancing the awareness of participating youth on relevant topics and promote intercultural and intergenerational dialogue.
= High-Level Forum =
Youth for Promoting Cultural Diversity
High-Level Forum on 27th June
2023 IYF | High-level Panel Discussions
On the morning of the 27th June, the High-Level Forum panel discussion on “Youth for Promoting Cultural Diversity” invited representatives from Permanent Delegations and officials of UNESCO, and scholars in related fields to share insights, and facilitate intergenerational dialogues with youth participants. The purpose of the dialogue was to invite professionals to share insights and practices on the youth's role on cultural diversity. The panel discussion comprises 6 panelists and they have provided insights on the role and responsibility of youth in protecting and promoting cultural diversity.
“One of the responsibilities of UNESCO is to promote cross-cultural dialogue”, said Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office for East Asia. He emphasized that only by connecting everyone and achieving cross-cultural dialogue can we realize peace and sustainable development. For Mr. Abdou Fleur, Second Counselor at thePermanent Delegation of Senegal to UNESCO, he stressed the important foundations for achieving sustainable development goals in education and culture, and urged young people toplay a significant role in promoting cultural diversity.
“Culture has the power to shape the soul of a nation,” according to Mr. Cyril Musil Abal'Anken Elol, Deputy Permanent Delegate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to UNESCO. Mr Albertus Aochamub, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, suggested providing appropriate support for young people to become cultural entrepreneurs in the creative industry, and Prof. Yongliang Xiao from Beijing Normal University, shared his experience with the filming industry in US and China, and urged young people to leverage their talent, skills and knowledge to take the initiative in cultural innovation and creativity.
The panelists at the high level forum discussed key themes such as the role of youth in cultural diversity, cultural dialogue, safeguarding living culture heritage, creative industry, policy and regulatory issues in cultural protection, and empowering young people with the skills and knowledge to become role models for cultural diversity. The panelists highlighted the leveraging of the platform of the Belt and Road Initiative to promote cultural diversity and urged young people to take the lead in promoting cultural cooperation, dialogue, and communication.
High-Level Roundtable Dialogue I
Heritage Preservation and Urban Rejuvenation
High-Level Roundtable Dialogue I on 30th June
Mr. Robert Parua, Programme Specialist for Education, moderating High-level Roundtable Dialogues
Under the theme of "Heritage Preservation and Urban Rejuvenation", the High-Level Round-table Dialogue was centered around the practices, achievements, and challenges in the culture heritage and urban rejuvenation. The dialogue, as a pivotal segment of the forum, delved into the complex dynamics of preserving historical heritage while fostering urban rejuvenation. The theme of the high-level roundtable dialogue is relevant to the context of Nanjing City, given the implementation of very successful heritage preservation sites in light of the rapid urban development taking place in the city. The dialogue recognized the delicate balance of protecting and safeguarding the historical heritage preservation and rapid urban expansion.
As the very heart of our collective identity lies in the historical landmarks, architectural marvels, and cultural legacies that shape our urban landscape, it calls for proper protection for future generations. The panelists urged the international youth participants to be great ambassadors for heritage preservation and balancing urbanization, and noted the imperative of innovative urban planning, weaving these cultural treasures into the vibrant tapestry of modern urban living. The panelists shared their expertise and experience in the discussion and shared insightful perspectives on UNESCO’s good practices and models of successful heritage preservation and urban rejuvenation. Mr. Albertus Aochamub, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, highlighted the importance of using UNESCO normative instruments in Culture to preserve and protect the heritage sites in urban cities. Mr. Shérif Elsheikh, Second Secretary of Permanent Delegation of the Arab Republic of Egypt to UNESCO, mentioned Egyptian’s experience with Abu Simbel, a massive UNESCO heritage site preserving culture heritage and embrace urban rejuvenation at the same time.
Prof. Zhang Hongyan, Professor at Nanjing University and Director of Urban Development Institute, shared China’s successful experience and models in heritage preservation and urban rejuvenation, as Nanjing and other cities have well preserved cultural heritages on fast urban expansion due to China’s rapid economic growth. Mr. Dong Wei, Professor of Architecture at Southeast University, offered a nuanced view from their professional stance, sharing both challenges and triumphs in Nanjing City's cultural protection and architectural landscape during urban development.
The High-Level Roundtable Dialogue I was centred around how to untangle the intricacies, seize opportunities, and address challenges inherent in "Heritage Preservation and Urban Rejuvenation". The panelists shared insights on building resilient, inclusive, and forward-looking urban communities, and providing policy and regulations for urban planning and cultural preservation. They also pointed out the role of UNESCO global knowledge networks, normative instruments in cultural preservation. As this engaging and productive dialogue concluded, its impact resonated beyond the forum, contributing to the ongoing global discourse on preserving the past while embracing the future.
High-Level Roundtable Dialogue II
Youth Engagement in Cultural Inheritance
High-Level Roundtable Dialogue II on 30th June
Q&A with youth participants
At the intersection of youthful exuberance and the tapestry of cultural heritage, the High-Level Roundtable Dialogue II on 30th June is themed on “Youth Engagement in Cultural Inheritance”. The panelists illuminated the crucial role young generations play in both preserving and advancing our cultural legacy. The Dialogue encapsulated the essence of continuity, innovation, and intergenerational communication.
As the Dialogue unfolded, participants were presented with an opportunity to uncover how age-old practices can be revitalized with contemporary significance, ensuring that cultural heritage thrives as a dynamic and cherished entity transcending generations. The discussions unveiled the important role of younger generation in inheriting the traditional culture,values and customs and transcend to the next generation.
Mr. Abdou Fleur and Mr. Cyril Elol from UNESCO Permanent Delegation highlighted the good UNESCO's initiatives in empowering youth leaders to take the lead in the cultural heritage conservation and preservation and make both local and global impacts at the community level, encouraging all IYF participants to leverage their unique skills and perspectives for collective progress. Mr. Hu A’xiang, a Professor at Nanjing University and Director of the Six Dynasties Museum, shared Nanjing’s insights into their dynamic youth engagement programs, including youth volunteer trainings and immersive tours. Mr. Lu Haiming, President of Nanjing City Culture Research Association, underlined the pivotal role of youth engagement in revitalizing literary classics through innovative cultural forms.
As IYF invited participants to delve into a world where the vibrancy of youth meets the rich tapestry of cultural heritage, the three high-level panel discussions explored the pivotal role of young people in cultural heritage conservation, promoting cultural diversity, and balancing urban rejuvenation. And the intergenerational conversation among experts and youth participants also emphasized the role of UNESCO in providing and guiding in knowledge sharing and encouraging young people to take the lead at the community level. The High-Level Forum and Roundtable Dialogues not only resonated within the confines of the forum but echoes a powerful message globally: that the energy and vision of youth, intertwined with the wisdom of the past, create a harmonious continuum that both celebrates and enriches our shared cultural heritage.