Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day of Nowruz, 21 March 2014

Celebrated every year by millions of people from Western, Central and South Asia, the Balkans and other regions across the world, Nowruz bears a message of respect, mutual understanding and peace to all women and men.

Inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Nowruz is a moment to celebrate the living traditions that provide meaning to reality and shape it for the good of all, by the making the most of humanity’s cultural diversity and by building new bridges of dialogue.

Nowruz reminds us of the power of culture and heritage as a force driving and enabling sustainable development and as a wellspring of knowledge and creativity. At a time when all societies are seeking new sources of dynamism, cultural heritage holds unique resources to craft solutions to old and new challenges in ways that are meaningful and inclusive. This is UNESCO’s message today, when countries are accelerating to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and the international community is shaping a new global sustainable development agenda to follow.

As an age-old tradition with strong cultural and natural components, Nowruz is a time for rejoicing with family, friends and community. It is also a celebration of renewal and harmony with nature. This message resonates powerfully across the world today, when many societies are undergoing deep transformation and the planet faces new pressures.

On this day of Nowruz, let us walk forward together, guided by the spirit of friendship, respect and mutual understanding. This is the strongest foundation on which to address global challenges, drawing on solidarity and understanding between all peoples.

Happy Nowruz to all!