Giving a voice to young people, encouraging the youth to promote the different cultures and world languages to build a sustainable peace is indispensable to achieve the sustainable development globally. As the leaders of tomorrow, the youth has to be provided with global competence and platforms where they can express their arts, culture, and vision for a better world.
Knowing that culture is what we are and civilization is what we build upon; Aware that our distinct cultures may shape how we perceive and interact with each other.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
In this respect, the International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC) provides the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of language and culture through an annual festival of youth and thus supports the Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Promoting peaceful and cohesive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. For the first time, the 14th IFLC, which was co-organized by the Peace Islands Institute (PII) and the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) had taken place at the United Nations ECOSOC Camber on 29 April 2016 with 70 Youth Representatives from 27 different countries.
The program started with the traditional opening song “Colors of the World“ that underlines the importance of friendship, love, peace and mutual respect among different cultures for a peaceful future. Mehmet Kilic, the Director of Center for Global Affairs at Peace Islands Institute delivered opening remarks. Mr. Kilic said, “Promotion of languages and culture are important to achieve sustainable peace. Furthermore language and culture are two signs of a coin, which is the heart of social cohesion. The International Festival of Language and Culture aims to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #16”.
The Youth Representatives from 27 different countries took the audience to an adventurous world trip from Albania to Brazil, Philippines, USA, Turkey, South Africa, to Tanzania and to Indonesia. They performed different cultural songs and traditional dances and fascinated the audience with their lively performance.
The highlight of the event was the message sent by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the IFLC. After commending Peace Islands Institute and Journalists and Writers Foundation for organizing this festival at ECOSOC Chamber, and bringing youth from 27 countries together, H.E Ban Ki-moon mentioned that the IFLC contributes to “the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, people-centered, planet-friendly blueprint for shared global progress”. At the end of his message, Secretary-General referred to the youth, who “are part of the largest generation, with wide-ranging opportunities to connect and engage” and emphasized that the world needs the youth to show allegiance to the wider common good.
After the meaningful message of the UN Secretary General H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Michael Jackson’s famous song “Heal the World“ was sung by all the youth from four different countries and was one of the most significant performances of the event. Moreover, the Youth Delegates from USA, France, Paraguay, Egypt, Russia and China left a lasting impression on the audience by delivering their “IFLC Youth Declaration” in all UN languages:
“Knowing that culture is what we are and civilization is what we build upon; Aware that our distinct cultures may shape how we perceive and interact with each other.”
The closing remarks were delivered by Cemre Ulker, who is the UN Representative of the Journalists and Writers Foundation. Ms. Ulker mentioned that the youth is our voice and hope for a global sustainable peace and they will be heard in every continent, in every country across the world. After expressing her pleasure to host the IFLC students at the United Nations ECOSOC Chamber, Ms. Ulker said, “We believe that the power of love, friendship and mutual respect is the light of a peaceful future”. The program ended with the traditional closing song “Universal Peace“.