Education for All, Education for Sustainable Development and UNESCO’’s response to natural disasters were the three themes on the agenda for the Annual Meeting of Goodwill Ambassadors, which took place on March 3 and 4, 2005 at UNESCO’s Headquarters.

The Director-General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura opened the session, followed by a speech of Mr Michael Abiola Omolewa, President of the General Conference.

The Goodwill Ambassadors presented their work over the past year and discussed their experiences. During the meeting they committed themselves to promote UNESCO’’s actions in these three fields, by means of fund raising or by raising public awareness of these projects through their professional activities.

At the meeting, Mr Abhimanyu Singh, Director of the Division of International Co-ordination and Monitoring for Education for All and Teresa Murtagh, Information Officer for the Education Sector, presented the Education for All programme, which promotes universal access to learning and focuses on equity. Mr Singh and Mrs Murtagh asked the ambassadors to lend their support to the programme.

Mrs Mary Joy Pigozzi, Director of the Quality Education Programme, presented the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), which was launched by Mr Matsuura on March 1 at UN Headquarters in New York. The main objective of this Decade is to encourage the governments of Member States to incorporate the concept of sustainable development into their educational policies.

Mr. Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences and Mr Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), presented UNESCO’’s work for the prevention of natural disasters, with a particular focus on the project recently launched by UNESCO for a global tsunami warning system, which is due to go into operation in June 2007.

Mr Jean Michel Jarre and H.R.H. Princess Firyal were the moderators of this year’’s Annual Meeting. On several occasions they encouraged the promotion of certain programmes that were presented by the speakers. They particularly stressed the crucial role of education for achieving the sustainable development of countries as well as the importance of disseminating indispensable information regarding tsunami risks in order to protect the population of endangered regions.

The First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, hosted a lunch on 4 March, on the occasion of her recent nomination as Goodwill Ambassador for oral and musical traditions. Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva and Mr Mstislav Rostropovitch presented the traditional Azerbaijani mugham music, which was followed by a concert of the Azerbaijani pianist and composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and cellist Ivan Monighetti.

The following ambassadors attended the meeting: Mehriban Aliyeva, Patrick Baudry, Cheick Modibo Diarra, H.R.H. Princess Firyal, Ivry Gitlis, Ikuo Hirayama, Jean Michel Jarre, Omer Zulfu Livaneli, Kitin Munoz, Cristina Owen-Jones, Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Mstislav Rostropovitch, H.E. Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker, Madanjeet Singh, Zurab Tsereteli and Maria de Lourdes Egydio Villela.