The UN’s third Alliance of Civilisations forum has ended in Rio with a special session dedicated to developing ideas from young people.
They came from many parts of the world to put forward projects aimed at building bridges between different cultures. Often from countries with serious problems – economic, ethnic, religious or political – many took risks to get their programmes off the ground.
Among them was the head of an organisation in Kenya dedicated to finding Africa’s future women leaders.
“We are making investments in young women in Africa,” said Wanjiru Kamau-Rutemberg, founder director of Akili Dada. “We identified the brightest girls in Africa and we are giving scholarships and mentoring to really bright girls and making sure that women enter leadership across the continent.”
There was a special focus on Haiti whose Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive paid tribute to his people’s “maturity” in the face of January’s earthquake. But he also spoke of his country’s failure to develop.
“Haiti is a country built from colonialism where different cultures co-existed”, he said. “Unfortunately, as Haiti’s story unfolded these cultures didn’t work together. On the contrary, you get the impression that they had a destructive effect. There was a separation between African culture, European culture and that which developed in the region, latin American culture.”
The Alliance of Civilisations was launched five years ago aimed at breaking down barriers and overcoming misunderstanding between different cultures and religions.
The forum ended with calls for new global institutions giving developing countries a greater say.
Empower young underprivileged, says UN forum