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Sacramento, California, 2 November, 2009 — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today signed an agreement of cooperation reaffirming their shared commitment to dedicate human and material resources to confront poverty — one of the greatest challenges facing the global economy.
Formalising and building upon past collaboration between California and the agencies of the AKDN, the agreement recognises the intention of both parties to further collaborate in areas of mutual interest.
“I am encouraged by today’s action and look forward to working with His Highness the Aga Khan on important world issues including education, health sciences and environmental management,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Together we will expand our partnership, share our experiences, and promote an understanding of one another's cultures and civilisations.”
Expressing gratitude to the Governor and the State of California for “agreeing to be one of our most privileged partners,” His Highness the Aga Khan pointed at the “multiplicity of civil society capacity” in the State of California as an asset that can be a stabilising factor in the developing world.
“We have seen over the developing world in Africa and Asia, that when politics are fragile, what continues to sustain development is civil society,” said the Aga Khan. “If you build a strong civil society, then you have a country that continues to progress even if governments are unstable,” he added.
In the area of education, both parties recognise the importance of high quality early childhood, primary, secondary and higher education. The State of California’s significant expertise and resources include leading institutions of higher education such as the University of California system. AKDN has a long history of working to improve the quality of education in selected regions of the developing world. Accordingly, both parties will foster and support partnerships through faculty and student exchanges, teaching, curriculum development, research, capacity building, technical assistance and continuing education programmes, among others.
The agreement also envisions collaboration in health sciences education and research, including developing centres of excellence in the study and prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, emergency medicine, diagnostics and maternal and child health. The scope of collaboration will include the development of healthcare human resources for Eastern Africa and South and Central Asia, conducting joint research on diseases in these regions, and educating and training resources to develop their capacity to deliver effective healthcare.
Given that both the State of California and the AKDN have extensive experience in seismic mitigation, the agreement also addresses collaboration in best practices, technologies and research in seismic risk management to ensure linkages are established to further reduce the loss of life through such risks.
The parties will also partner in the area of environmental management. The State of California plays a leading role in promoting sound environmental management and the AKDN, through its agencies, has played a significant role in protecting beneficiary populations from environmental hazards and natural disasters. The State of California and the AKDN have worked together in the past on the Governor’s Global Climate Summits.
Finally, the agreement recognises the benefits of cultural exchange and undertakes to promote better and deeper understanding of Muslim cultures and civilisations and their historic, cultural, and geographic diversity.
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