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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 18:00

Sir Fazle in China for global forum on culture in sustainable development

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15 May 2013, Dhaka. BRAC’s chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed addressed The International Congress “Culture: Key to Sustainable Development” which is being held in Hangzhou, China, from May 15 to May 17.

“Culture is not just theatre and arts and crafts; it’s also about how we deal with the challenges of life and in doing so shape our world view,” explained Sir Fazle to members of the global community and major international stakeholders on the first day of the conference. He spoke in a plenary high-level discussion on ‘Culture in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda’.

Taking the example of how BRAC, in the 80s, reached 12 million households and taught 90 per cent of mothers how to make oral rehydration solution (ORS), Sir Fazle said, “In doing so it influenced how diseases and treatment are understood and power is gained over adversity. This was both a health intervention and a profoundly cultural act as it affected the world view of millions.”

Sir Fazle described how BRAC’s social enterprise arm, Aarong, brought together crafts and livelihood issues and has become one of the most successful commercial innovations. It reintroduced revived dying crafts, established new products and fashions and linked producers to the market. “Supporting cultural heritage is not enough,” said BRAC’s founder and chairperson. “It’s important to make them sustainable through access to market, going to scale and creating livelihoods. Today thousands of women who are employed as craft makers are also preserving and expanding our cultural heritage.”

He also shared his belief that empowerment and development are cultural ideas: “Culture lives in development and vice versa. By strengthening one, we enrich the other.”

This is the first International Congress specifically focusing on the linkages between culture and sustainable development organised by UNESCO since the Stockholm Conference in 1998.

Other speakers at the global forum include UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, H.R.H Prince Sultan Saudi bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and former Governor of Canada, Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean.

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