The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, has expressed appreciation to the government of Indonesia for approving $10million extra-budgetary funding for UNESCO, noting that culture has become the driving force for global sustainable development and expressed delight that the 6th session of the IGC-ICH provides a veritable platform for the 137 States Parties to further explore ways of mutual cooperation.

Ms Bokova stated this in her keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 6th session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) which took place at the Bali International Conference Centre, Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

According to the UNESCO Director-General, ICH is the bridge between the past and the future, the fountain of knowledge, and the precious possession of communities, groups and individuals, stressing that only they can safeguard it and pass it on to generations to come, and that the role of international organizations and governments is to support these efforts in every way to engender sustainable development.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika, represented by the Second Assistant to the Governor, Bapak Wayan Subagiarta, expressed happiness for choosing Bali as the venue for the event, noting that it is recognition of the strategic importance of Bali and its ability to host international events of this magnitude and that Bali places premium on cultural tourism and the 6th session of the IGC-ICH proffers a platform for that.

The President of the 6th General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention, Professor Toshiyuko Kono, in his address, said that as a child, he had an unforgettable experience about Bali, and that coming to Bali for the IGC-ICH meeting furthers those fond memories.

Professor Kono stressed the importance of vertical and horizontal collaborations with researchers in efforts at safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, saying that the time had come for nations all over the world to network effectively to enhance their preservation and promotion.

In his address, the Minister for Education and Culture, Mr. Mohammad Nuh, expressed appreciation to UNESCO for giving the Indonesian government the opportunity to host the 6th Session of the IGC-ICH, noting that every country has its heritage and cultural identity, and that the meeting will further bring to the fore, the rich intangible cultural heritage that is yet to be explored.

The Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Mr. Agung Laksono, while declaring the meeting open through the beating of a giant gold gong, stated that every nation needs to be proud of their cultural heritage and safeguard same for the younger generation.

The 6th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, with Professor Aman Wirakartakusumah of Indonesia as the chairperson, will examine and approve nomination files and requests for international financial assistance from various States Parties and it will end on November 29, 2011.

It will be recalled that the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which now includes 137 States Parties, was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2003, and only those countries that have ratified the Convention are eligible to present items for inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage has 24 representatives of UNESCO Member States, elected for a term of four years; and half the Committee is renewed every two years.

(c) NICO news