Honorable Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and privilege to address this gathering on this auspicious occasion, the opening of the Universal Forum of Cultures graced by your majesties' personal presence.
Culture is the basis of civilizations. This forum, the first of its kind in the millennium could not have come at a more opportune moment and it could not have been held in a better place – in this great historical City of Barcelona where Columbus started it all – the process of globalization is now in full swing and we have to grapple with it.
The world is fast becoming a global village, a place where cultures have to learn to live together and work together in pursuit of peace and prosperity for all—principles which are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
Cities and other human settlements are a physical, social, economic and political expression of all that finally becomes culture. UN-HABITAT is happy to have a long standing cooperation with Spain and its peoples and particularly the City and Mayor of Barcelona who have been at the forefront in the global effort to promote inclusive, prosperous and culturally diverse cities – places where all people in their diversity be it by gender, by race, by age, or economic means – live in harmony celebrating each other – free from want and free from fear.
Distinguished delegates, I am proud that the Universal Forum of Cultures will culminate in the 2 nd World Urban Forum during the last few weeks of September. This is a meeting that is dedicated to broad based consultations on cities and cultures and on charting out strategies and policies to make cities a better place for all: To make cities true crossroads of cultural integration and inclusiveness.
I hope you will join us there; we look forward to collaborating together.