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Museums for a Sustainable Society
by Rene Wadlow
2015-05-18 10:17:05
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18 May is the UNESCO-designated International Day of Museums. Each year, there is an overall theme but presented in many different ways by museums throughout the world.  This year, the theme title is “Museums for a Sustainable Society” as the United Nations is in the process of setting goals for sustainable development, which means the way in which humans cooperate with Nature.  Living in harmony and cooperating with Nature is a crucial aspect of our common work for the future.

museum01_400_01Museums can play an increasingly vital role in the implementation of sustainable development, as we move toward a just and inclusive world society.  As citizens of the world in our analysis of the world situation, we have stressed the need for a clear strategic focus to move to a world society that is just, sustainable and inclusive.  We understand care for the Earth as embracing our common responsibility to cooperate in promoting the well-being of all people and the larger community of life.

As intergovernmental negotiations on such issues as global warming, deforestation, air and water pollution are becoming increasingly frequent, we must be prepared to play a dynamic role in these negotiations as members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Thus ecologically-sound development is not just a slogan but an imperative if we are to meet the basic needs of all.  This includes improved nutrition, education, safe water, and sanitation.  There is no question that humanity's relation with the earth is undergoing a profound transformation.  There is a process of deep reflection about our attitudes to plants, animals, land, water, air, in fact, the entire natural world of which we are a part.

Since the 1972 UN Stockholm conference on the environment, the public has been provided with realistic accounts of the extent of the degradation of planet Earth.  However, we must also stress activities that are being undertaken to improve the conditions of the environment to show that solutions are being found so that people do not feel hopeless and helpless.

Taking effective action to halt the massive injury to the Earth's ecological structures is a first necessary step.  This will require a mobilization of political will and cooperation.  We need to recognize that world ecological stability must be based upon a shared commitment to the common good and that each person has a unique part to play.

Museums help to build new bridges between nations, ethnic groups and communities through values such as beauty and harmony.  Museums also build bridges between generations, between the past, the present and the future. Therefore for this International Museum Day, let us consider together how we may advance the impact of beauty upon the world.


Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens

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