A strong international message about the dangers of climate change and the need to protect the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean was sent by prominent figures from Greece and abroad, during the 20th High Level Meeting of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, held in Athens from the 20th to the 23rd of January 2020, at the initiative of the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis” Foundation.

Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, President of the Foundation with her name, and founding member of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, with the Center’s Co Chair, Dr. Vaira Vike Freiberga, former President of Latvia, and Dr. Ismail Serageldin, former Vice-president of the World Bank, welcome heads of state, leading scientists, representatives of the political, diplomatic and media world, in a series of events which aim to analyse in depth the impact of climate change on the life and cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.


TUESDAY 21 JANUARY 2020 (morning)

The conference was declared open by his Eminence the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, on Tuesday 21 January 2020, with his speech at the Amphitheatre of the Acropolis Museum.

As a sign of recognition for his important initiatives towards the protection of monuments from climate change and his contribution on matters of climate change in general, the President of the Hellenic Republic was awarded the Prize of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center by the Co-Chair of the Organisation, Mrs Vaira Vike Freiberga.

Mr Pavlopoulos accepted the Prize, thanking her for the great honour, and noted in his speech: “The conclusions of your initiative will serve as a valuable guide in formulating the overall Cultural Policy of Greece, in terms of effectiveness, consistency and continuity. In fact, we, as Greeks, do not forget our share of the responsibility to defend and save the general Cultural Heritage of the Mediterranean, according to the nature and mission of Greek Civilization, from its early days up to our times and looking towards its future prospects. I emphasize that this is a mission for us, the Greeks, as a people and a nation, whose Culture is destined to converse with other cultures. And such a dialogue certainly entails the defence of the importance of other cultures, with a goal for people to be able to peacefully coexist in our tumultuous world”.

On her part, Mrs Vardinoyannis said in her introductory speech: “The cultural heritage of the historical region of the Mediterranean, with the enormous global value, is under the imminent threat of being negatively affected by the changes caused by climate change. The socio-economic stability at the Mediterranean region may also be negatively affected by the shortage of water, the rise of the sea level and the drastic change of the environmental factors caused by climate change. The is why the constant dedication and commitment of the Presidents of Greece, Azerbaijan and Italy, on sustainability, climate action and protection of our shared history, are very important, and thanks to them we went from the recent High Level Meeting which successfully took part in November in Rome, this year’s High Level Meeting in Athens and the Forum of Baku which follows in March, in order to send a long-term message about how important are these challenges that we are faced with in our world”.

The meeting was also addressed by the Minister of Environment and Energy, Mrs Kostis Hatzidakis, who represented the government, the Minister of Culture, Mrs Lina Mendoni, the Chief of the Executive Office of the Culture Sector of UNESCO, Mrs Paola Leoncini-Bartoli, the Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Anar Juseynov, the President of the Acropolis Museum, Mrs Dimitris Pantermalis, Nathalie de Gaullle, Founder Societer and NB-INOV.

Two panels of leading scientists followed after that. The subject of the first one was: “What needs to be done for the protection of our Cultural Heritage from the impact of Climate change?”. The panel was moderated by Dr. Ismail Serageldin, former Vice-president of the World Bank and Co-Chair of NGIC, and speakers were Ambassador Antonio Zanardi, former Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the Italian Republic, the former President of Albania Rexhep Meidani, Professor Dimitris Pantermalis, President of the Acropolis Museum, Abdulaziz Altwaijri, former Director General of ISESCO and Benedetto Zacchiroli.

The subject of the second panel was: “Climate change: Where are we now and what steps should be taken”. It was moderated by Zlatko Lagumdzija, former Prime Minister of Bosnia Herzegovina, and consisted of Eka Tkeshelashvili, deputy Prime Minister of Georgia, Mats Karlsson, former Vice-President of the World Bank, Rosen Plevneliev, former President of Bulgaria, David Pan, Dean of Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University, Mirko Cvetkovic, former Prime Minister of Serbia and Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.


TUESDAY 21 JANUARY 2020 (evening)

During the evening of Tuesday, 21 January 2020, an event was held at the Athens Academy with subject “The consequences of Climate Change in the Mediterranean”.

The event was introduced by the President of the Athens Academy, Professor Anna Psarouda Benaki, and short addresses were made by Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, Foreign Minister Mr Takis Theodorikakos, the Co-Chair of the Organisation Dr. Vaira Vike Freiberga, former President of Latvia, and Dr. Ismail Serageldin, former Vice-president of the World Bank.

Speeches were made by Professor Christos Zerefos, Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Co-Chair of the NGIC former Vice President of the World Bank, Nathalie de Gaulle, great granddaughter of Charles de Gaulle and Founder Societer and NB-INOV and Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoghlu, 9th Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The 20th High Level Meeting of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center continued with discussions and closed panels. The events will be culminated with an event at the Athens University titled “The Many and the Few: Multitude and virtue”, on the evening of the 22nd of January 2020. The event will be dedicated to the 2500 years from the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis.