The annual meeting of the Goodwill Ambassador was held on April 3rd and 4th 2007 at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris.

UNESCO’’s important education initiatives, such as new regional programmes for literacy, as well as sustainable development, activities in the management of water resources and efforts in the fight against climate change were the themes on the agenda of the 2007 Annual Meeting of Goodwill Ambassadors.

In his opening address, the Director-General, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, described these two key issues as “two of the major challenges of today’’s world, and also areas where many Goodwill Ambassadors have been deeply engaged”. ““Literacy is vital to individual empowerment, effective social and political participation, poverty reduction and, indeed, sustainable development”,” he added. The Director-General emphasized how UNESCO, with its interdisciplinary mandate, is in a strong position to respond to these challenges. Regarding literacy, Mr Matsuura highlighted “UNESCO’s unique role within the United Nations system for promoting global literacy:”“We do this both through our leadership of the UN Literacy Decade (the UNLD), and through UNESCO’’s own Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), which targets the 35 countries with the greatest literacy needs”.” The Director-General also recalled the special role that UNESCO Celebrity Advocates and Goodwill Ambassadors have been playing in this regard. For instance, the first of five regional conferences in support of global literacy that UNESCO organizes over the next two years was hosted last month in Doha, Qatar by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education. With regard to sustainable development, particularly in relation to climate change and freshwater issues, the Director-General underscored UNESCO’’s internationally recognized leadership in the management of oceans and freshwater resources. He praised the valuable contributions made by Goodwill Ambassadors in this field.

The Goodwill Ambassadors presented their work of the past year and discussed their experiences and the many ways in which they supported the Organization’’s priorities, such as through fundraising activities and concerts, as well as through local projects, like using music to reach out to underprivileged children. The Director-General welcomed the wide spectrum of areas covered by the Goodwill Ambassadors’ work, which ranged from HIV and AIDS, literacy and child care to the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and the promotion of intercultural dialogue through art and multilingualism.

On the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan visited UNESCO, where a cooperation agreement was signed between UNESCO and the “Jordan River Foundation”, which she chairs. During her visit, H.M. Queen Rania had a private discussion with the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and President of the “Foundation for the Child and the Family”, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.

The cooperation agreement between the “Jordan River Foundation” and UNESCO will be wide and concerns issues related to child protection and safety, formal and non-formal education and children’’s rights, illiteracy and teacher training.

Right after the signing of the agreement, H.M. Queen Rania had a meeting with the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors who expressed their support for her work, especially for the “Safe Schools” project of the “Jordan River Foundation”, which aims to upgrade the education in Jordan. Mrs. Vardinoyannis was one of the donors of the “”Safe Schools”” Project.

An impressive artistic program followed the same evening, entitled “The Night of Jordanian Treasures””, that was opened with the speeches of the Director-General, Mr. Matsuura and H.M. Queen Rania. After the event, a dinner in honour of H.M. Queen Rania followed, hosted by H.E. Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker and attended by all the Goodwill Ambassadors and distinguished guests from France and Jordan.