United into the future

Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, with a thriving immigrant culture (more than 7.5 million people from all walks of life have migrated here since 1945), and Australians identifying with more than 300 different ancestries.

Clearly, as a nation, we are improved and enhanced by inclusivity, becoming far more than the sum of our parts. But around the world there are still culture gaps and divisions that urgently need to be addressed. It probably won’t surprise you all that much to learn that three-quarters of the major conflicts around the globe involves a cultural dimension.

This May 21 marks the United Nations’ World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, set aside by the international body in 2002 as a day to address an issue that even now remains a problem. The aim of the day is to promote peace and sustainable development worldwide through the medium of intercultural dialogue. As the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, puts it, “Cultural diversity gives our life its richness, its colour and its dynamism. It is a cognitive and intellectual opening and a driving force for social development and economic growth.”

Key to the messages the United Nations wishes to promote are three actions:

  • Improved dialogue between cultures as the basis on which to approach international social unity and respect between the peoples of the world.
  • Promotion of greater understanding of how different cultures engage in their different religions and spiritual undertakings.
  • Placing cultural considerations at the heart of policies for development, thereby embracing diversity and laying the groundwork for successful globalisation.

To learn more about this UN-sanctioned official holiday, visit its website, where you’ll find everything from background information to details of all the various UN resolutions regarding cultural inclusivity.

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