Yaounde 16 September - The President of the Republic of Cameroon, HE Mr. Paul Biya, received the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in the context of an official reception at the Presidential Palace, to discuss future cooperation with UNESCO.
"UNESCO’s message is more relevant than ever. Cameroon, with its incredible diversity, is a country of peace and tolerance. Today, it is under pressure from conflicts that are not its own, in Nigeria or in Central African Republic. Faced with the rise of extremism that uses religion to serve its own quest for domination, the spirit of tolerance, dialogue and acceptance of others is needed more than ever. Weapons are not enough to create the conditions of peace, and the best answer to extremism is the fight against ignorance with education," said the President, outlining UNESCO’s multifaceted work in Cameroon.
The Director-General commended Cameroon for its mediator role in facing the outbreaks of violence across the region, a cultural and as political hub in Africa, both a member of the International Organization of La Francophonie, the Commonwealth and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In this context, the Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s readiness to lend its full support to the development of human capacities for peace, especially in the field of higher education.
Another key focus is to find a "balance between heritage preservation and biodiversity on the one hand and development on the other" in the words of the President. Taking the example of the Dja Biosphere Reserve, the Director-General called for a new development model that puts culture, education and vocational training at the center of any sustainable strategy for inclusion and prosperity. "In this sense, Cameroon plays a leading role in the development of the Post-2015 UN agenda," she added.
Grand Officer of the Order of Valour of Cameroon
In recognition of the longstanding and deep cooperation between Cameroon and UNESCO, Irina Bokova was elevated to the title of Grand Officer of the Order of Valour of Cameroon, the highest award of the country, presented by the President.
"I receive this award as a mark of confidence in UNESCO, and as a call to work harder and with a greater sense of responsibility," said the Director-General.