Statement by H.E. Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations at the high-level discussion celebrating World Habitat Day 2015.
Excellences, Honourable Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am advocating vividly for the indispensible nature of culture in fostering economic development, improving the quality of life and security of the people, and ushering societies to evolve along a sustainable path.
I have always been convinced that the 2030 development agenda must have culture as one of the basic pillars, because it is culture that nurtures those values that we, as human beings, need in order to give economic development a human face.
Driven by greed and rapacious materialism, which leaves less and less space for thinking with soul and heart, we have exhausted natural resources and destabilized ecological balance. Here we need value based approach.
These values are found in all cultural and artistic traditions around the world.
I have learned a beautiful indigenous Australian word, PAPAHO, which means treasure box.
Culture is like a PAPAHO: a treasury box, full of unsuspected jewels. Culture diversity for me is a source of inspiration and not a burden. And without understanding each other’s cultures we always remain illiterate from each other.
Public spaces therefore , let them be museums, operas, theatres, the Forum Romanum or any other squares continue to work together to promote dialogue through culture as an essential investment in humanity’s future.
Culture is firmly rooted in the identity, and in the spiritual and intellectual aspirations of people, giving meaning to their common past and their shared future.
Cultural spaces are vectors towards fostering social cohesion, tolerance, dialogue, mutual acceptance, reconciliation, and, ultimately, lasting peace.
We know that culture can be a real catalyst of peace making and peace building.
We know that culture is the source of conflict resolution but also the source of conflict. So, it has to be taken seriously and discussed in its complexity.
The common experience in a cultural space of listening together to music, exploring art, sitting next to each other in a theatre, reading books loudly with others brings people close, because even it is a subconscious experience, these kind of sharings resonate not only with the art but also with each other as a common activity in a cultural space.
But everything has to start with education. Cities are hubs for intercultural dialogue, but the success can be reached only by well-planned education policies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Only development, where people are both the drivers and recipients of development, where interests of future generations are safeguarded, can be sustainable. Humanization of cities can bring us closer to sustainable urban development for all.
In this respect, culture is a crucial enabler of sustainable development and a key to understanding the complexity of current society, as it ultimately shapes what we mean by development and determines how people act in the world. It also allows for the mind-sets to the change so that we can learn to live together in the cities of ever changing social and cultural composition.
Budapest for example, the capital of my home country, serves as an example of a city where while there is a continuity of indigenous local cultures, there is also coexistence and interaction between various ethnic and minority cultures, which ensures that identity and diversity are preserved simultaneously. While Budapest is a hub for innovation and new talent, traditions and legacy are still cherished and nurtured.
In our individualistic world public spaces have a central role in fostering interactions between people who are all stakeholders in the realization of sustainable development. It is in the cities where the positive economic, social and environmental transformations start. The dialogue of the many different voices leads to the crystallization of new ideas, technological and artistic innovation and emergence of creative solutions.
Given that HABITAT III, to be held in October 2016, will be one of the first major thematic conferences bringing us closer to the realization of the Agenda, today’s event on the occasion of the observance of World Habitat Day cannot be more opportune.
For the past decades we have been experiencing rapid urbanization. Millions of people move to cities worldwide, that is about 200.000 per day, close to 1.4 million per week or over 70 million each year, sustainable urban development is becoming a more and more pressing challenge.
By 2050 world’s population is projected to add 2.5 billion people to the urban population, meaning that over 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas.
Thus, we live in the era of cities. They are economic and cultural engines for development. The measures taken by local governments often have more impact on the quality of life than by national governments themselves.
The core challenges faced by human settlements, such as poverty, migration and climate change, will require integrated policies ensuring that the benefits of urban growth are shared equitably and sustainably.
Thank you for the attention.