The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, reaffirmed this morning the country's commitment to UNESCO and assured that "he will always find in Catalonia a reliable partner to promote all projects", "with the utmost ambition, with all the non-conformism and with all the transformative vision ”.
This was stated at the opening ceremony of the World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022), a world-leading event that will address the challenges of the university sector for the next decade in Barcelona for three days.
The president has begun his speech by thanking UNESCOfor choosing the Catalan capital to hold this conference, which is the first time that it has not taken place in the headquarters of the organization. He has recalled that Catalonia's relationship with this body "comes from afar", both at an institutional level, "with a fruitful collaboration that needs to be further strengthened", and at a cultural, civic and social level.
“For us it is a huge responsibility to host this conference and we do so with the clear will to continue working for the progress of higher education,” Aragonès emphasised, “because we strongly believe in the transformative capacity of universities, a common good that must be preserved, promoted and directed, above all, to build fully empowered citizenship”.
The aim of WHEC2022 is to rethink ideas and practices of higher education to ensure the sustainable development of the planet and humanity and, within the framework of the conference, UNESCO will present the roadmap that will guide the university sector during the next ten years.
The chief executive has urged participants to address in depth "a debate as important and transcendent as the future of the universities, which is crucial to meeting the great challenges of humanity.". A debate, he said, should be aimed at “building a better, more prosperous, fairer, greener, more feminist, more democratic, freer, more committed to human rights and fully peaceful world”.
Throughout this process of reflection, Aragonès has called for "the humanities" to be present as well, and and for "all the knowledge of the universities to be used to face the great challenges of humanity". "Do it with the aim of maximizing scientific and technological progress to meet such immense challenges as slowing down climate change or fighting pandemics such as the Covid," he said.
Finally, the President reaffirmed Catalonia's "commitment" to the founding principles of the United Nations,"to the values of democracy, peace and human rights" and has stressed that, in a world in constant tension, Catalonia is an example of a "cohesive society based on diversity and plurality".
The event, which took place at the Fira de Barcelona Congress Center, was also attended by UNESCO General Director Audrey Azoulay and Research and Universities Minister Gemma Geis and Foreign Action and Open Government Minister, Victòria Alsina, among other authorities.