'New and Fresh'

UNESCO Director Emphasizes Importance of Combining Technological Innovation with Cultural, Educational Development科技创新助推文教发展——专访联合国教科文组织驻华代表欧敏行

Women of China (English) - - CONTENTS - YE SHAN 叶珊Photos by ZHANG JIAMIN摄影:张佳敏

Marielza Oliveira says she has had "new and fresh" experiences during the past nine months she has spent in China. She became director of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Office in Beijing in December 2015. During an interview with Women of China (WOC) ahead of the G20 Hangzhou Summit, held in eastern China's Zhejiang Province in early September, Oliveira said she was looking forward to witnessing the summit, which would be an opportunity to build a "sustainable, peaceful, inclusive and environmentally friendly" world.对欧敏行来说,在中国过去九个月的生活给了她无比新鲜的体验。去年12月,她就任联合国教科文组织驻华代表处代表。今年 9月初,二十国集团领导人杭州峰会开幕前夕,欧敏行接受本刊专访时表示,她期盼峰会创造的机遇,将构建起一个“可持续、和平、包容和环保”的世界。 Q: You visited Zhejiang Province many times prior to September, when the G20 Hangzhou Summit was held. What is your impression of the province? A: I have been to Zhejiang Province six or seven times. Many of our academic partners are in Hangzhou (capital of the province). We work closely with Zhejiang University, which frequently organizes conferences, seminars and workshops that bring together a network of entrepreneurs and chairs of educational institutes in the Asia-Pacific region. The city of Hangzhou is one of my favorites; as it is a hub of culture and technology and (it's the) home of the beautiful West Lake, which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Hangzhou is also (recognized as) UNESCO Learning City and UNESCO Creative City.

I was amazed during my recent trip to Anji, another beautiful city in Zhejiang Province. Anji resembles my hometown (Belo Horizonte) in Brazil, not because of the city itself, but because of the city's surrounding natural environment. Both Anji and my hometown are in mountainous regions. Anji is a modern and sustainable city, which respects, and takes advantage of, its nature. The city offers a warm and welcoming environment for people to live in.

One of the incredible places I visited in Anji was a bamboo museum. It's an educational place, where people learn about culture, history, craftsmanship and tradition. The museum exhibits the techniques of using bamboo to make architecture, foods, textiles and many other things. It's a place that combines technology with culture and education, which is what UNESCO is all about. Q: Based on your understanding of Chinese culture and China's economic development, how can China better combine cultural development and country's economic growth? A: China's 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020) pays great attention to using technology and culture to promote economic development. There are many things "we need to buy." But if you think about the kinds of things "we want to buy," they are usually new and more advanced, or the things which help us tell the world "who we are." In other words, they represent innovation, which is what technology is about; or they are things inbuilt with our personal identities, which is what culture is about. Technology and culture can therefore help advance economic growth by creating and expanding markets and good jobs.

Culture can also expand entire social sectors. Take tourism as an example: People frequently travel to visit and enjoy beautiful sites connected with history and culture. If we conserve well the monuments and heritage in a place, and if we respectfully open them to the public, we will advance tourism and, at the same time, we will make sure these beautiful cultural resources remain available to benefit later generations. Technology can help to expand people's access to cultural goods. For example, some museums and galleries set up websites for people to "visit" those places online; and some communities use websites to showcase their beautiful traditions and crafts. That is a way to use technology to revitalize cultural heritage that would otherwise be dying out.

China has an incredible number of craftmaking skills, including ceramics, silk, embroidery and paper-cuts … These beautiful traditions should be safeguarded and transmitted to the next generations. Creative industries, which include printing, media, music, video making and filmmaking, offers tremendous opportunities for creative people, including women and youth, who will use technology to produce and disseminate creative works.

Q: What measures have been taken by UNESCO to promote the protection of traditions and cultural relics in China? A: UNESCO works on the basis of global legal frameworks agreed upon by its Member States. The frameworks include conventions and recommendations on how to protect and disseminate both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. So, at the international level, a key activity of UNESCO is to bring together member countries, so they can discuss relevant international legal standards and frameworks to protect culture.

We also work at the national level. In China, we work in advocacy, which means we raise the public's awareness of the importance of conserving, preserving and sustaining culture and tradition. China has 56 ethnic groups, each with beautiful cultural identity, heritage and traditions. China also has spectacular heritage sites, including many globally recognized sites listed as World Cultural Heritage. We help governments and communities improve their capacities to protect and promote these important cultural manifestations.

For example, the Palace Museum, in Beijing, attracts an enormous number of tourists every day. If all the tourists who have an interest in visiting the Palace Museum are actually allowed to visit the site on a daily basis, it will be very difficult to maintain (the museum). Since a lot of exhibits in the museum are fragile, we have to limit the total number of visitors per day. We work with the Chinese Government, and various communities, to ensure they learn about, and have access to, methodologies and guidelines for conserving, preserving, restoring and properly managing such sites. Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Beijing? A: I like going to parks, especially early in the morning during weekends. I enjoy watching elderly people dancing in the parks. It's a way for them to keep healthy, and (a way for them) to showcase dance traditions to visitors. I have been trying to practice t'ai chi. I usually take my acquaintances, who visit Beijing, to Qianmen Street. The street has well-preserved courtyards and crafts stores. It's a perfect blend of old and new. I also like looking for small restaurants, where I can try various snacks.

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