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The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts

Director-General of UNESCO visits Australia

Media release
5 May 2010

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Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, today welcomed Mrs Irina Bokova, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to Australia.

"The Director-General is visiting Australia within the first 12 months of her appointment to UNESCO and it is a pleasure to welcome Mrs Bokova to Canberra," Mr Garrett said.

"Australia is a proud founding member of UNESCO. For more than 60 years we have worked with UNESCO on projects that have made a significant and ongoing difference to Australian life and to communities around the world.

"After the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami Australia funded and developed an early warning system that includes the Indian Ocean and South-West Pacific. This system was developed within the guidelines of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

"Australia is also involved in more than 20 natural science projects with UNESCO. We are also party to conventions that protect, preserve and promote our cultural heritage. With 17 World Heritage places and a seat on the World Heritage Committee we have initiated a number of activities to strengthen the World Heritage Convention and support our region's engagement in World Heritage recognition and protection.

"The sharing of ideas, knowledge and know-how throughout the UNESCO community is helping to build strong, resilient and sustainable societies.

"Many of the major policy challenges facing Australia and the world such as climate change, water shortages, and food security require an international collaborative approach based on science and education.

"Strategically targeted, vigorously pursued collaboration will enhance both developed and developing countries' ability to meet these challenges.

"Australia's foundation membership of UNESCO is a source of great pride and Australia looks forward to continuing to work closely with our friends in UNESCO."

While in Australia Mrs Bokova will have high-level meetings with the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, the Hon. Bob McMullan MP; Chief Scientist for Australia, Professor Penny D Sackett; and the Chair of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, Ms Anthea Tinney.

Commonwealth of Australia