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Message from His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the Kusi Ideas Festival Kigali, Rwanda Monday, 9 December 2019 1575804600 Message from His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the Kusi Ideas Festival speech Rwanda 2010s 6926 1 Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Rwanda Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development Nation Media Group (NMG)

Delivered on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan by Dr Azim Lakhani, AKDN Diplomatic Representative for Kenya

The story of Africa’s journey is inspirational. We see around us every day compelling evidence that Africa is today a continent of opportunity, of hope, and of confidence.

Africa’s strength has always been her peoples. Their resilience, sense of community and self-help, ingenuity and resourcefulness in innovating fresh solutions - often in the most difficult circumstances - is responsible for the continent’s progress and exciting prospects.

The fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa - many of them projected to grow above 5 percent per year. Here, there is also a growing youth population - an impressive 60 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25 - a significantly higher proportion than in the West. The continent is also poised to provide a new market for goods and services at a time when the population in the West is diminishing. Imagine the opportunities for employment and investment in Africa!

My early childhood was in Kenya in the 1940’s. From the time I became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in 1957, an integral part of my daily life and work has encompassed seeking to improve living conditions and opportunities in African countries.

Today, all of us engaged in Africa are witnessing a palpable new spirit of confidence. This is a reflection of the efforts of the African peoples coming together across borders and frontiers in thoughtful, impactful endeavours to improve their lives as well as their countries’ prospects.

I commend President Kagame’s leadership and insight for hosting this Conference and Heads of State present here today for their commitment to addressing the central issues and challenges of our time.

I am pleased that the Nation Media Group, which I founded in 1959, has been instrumental in initiating this Festival and conceptualising its thought leadership agenda - and that it has played a substantial role over decades in promoting responsible journalism and thoughtful discussion of issues and opportunities on the African continent. In keeping with this mission, this Festival brings together some of the best minds of Africa to take this agenda forward and, most importantly, implement many of the ideas and solutions that will be discussed here.

All of us recognise that there is much work to be done.

We have an opportunity - and responsibility - to assist people and communities to construct strong, resilient foundations, to ensure sustainable progress and lasting, positive change and to support and lift the hopeful voices of the continent’s youth. This can most readily be accomplished when government, the private sector and civil society institutions work together to create an enabling environment, where people can plan and build for their future and for future generations of their family.

Sound development rests on learning from, and working with, people at the grassroots to help them articulate and realise their aspirations. It requires good governance and forging a better appreciation of the importance of pluralism across all sectors of society. To this end, the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network are committed to expanding our efforts, in partnership with others, to improve the quality of life for all Africans.

I am confident that Africa will continue to be a leader, in drawing on its historical experience, in building resilient, pluralistic, economically-strong, and environmentally- sound communities, rooted in solid values and communal support structures that societies in the West and elsewhere will admire and emulate in years to come. The rest of the World has much to learn from Africa.

speech_241286 <p>"Africa’s strength has always been her peoples. Their resilience, sense of community and self-help, ingenuity and resourcefulness in innovating fresh solutions - often in the most difficult circumstances - is responsible for the continent’s progress and exciting prospects."</p> English
2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony Ottawa, Canada Wednesday, 20 November 2019 1574272800 Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony speech Canada 2010s 6926 1 Civil society,Canada Global Centre for Pluralism Civil society


The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,
The Right Honorable Joe Clark,
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario,
Friends of the Global Centre for Pluralism,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you this evening to the second Global Pluralism Award ceremony.

Thank you, Meredith, for the warm introduction.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are delighted that you have joined the Centre as Secretary General.

This evening, we are honouring ten remarkable organisations and individuals.

Some have come from as far away as Myanmar, others are working right here in Canada.

Their areas of focus are diverse and include history education, music, political empowerment and virtual exchange.

Taken together, this outstanding group of recipients represents a new wave of leadership working around the world for a brighter future free of exclusion and division.

The Award should serve as a reminder that we can all take steps, in both our personal and professional lives, to foster a more positive and productive response to the changing diversity in our world.

A more inclusive, understanding approach to diversity is needed more than ever today. The Award offers examples to inspire how we take on that challenge.

This year’s recipients join the inaugural group of honourees from 2017, to form a growing global community of pluralism leaders.

Their stories and expertise are being shared in all parts of the globe, illustrating how pluralism can be put into practice even in the most intractable situations.

The three Award winners are receiving $50,000 each to further their endeavours. The Centre will collaborate closely with them over the next year to help amplify their important work.

By bringing their stories to an international audience, the Centre aims to help deepen awareness of their accomplishments and connect them to global partners. Shortly, we will have the opportunity to learn more about each of them.

But first, I would like to salute the international jury. The jurors had the very difficult task of selecting three winners and seven honourable mentions among a very impressive pool of submissions.

Their diligent work in selecting these ten from over 500 submissions, received from 74 countries, is very much appreciated.

I congratulate the jury’s skilful chair, former Canadian Prime Minister the Right Honourable Joe Clark, as well as its other distinguished members: Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, Dr. Siva Kumari, Dr. Tarek Mitri, His Worship Naheed Nenshi, Ms. Ory Okolloh, and Ms. Pascale Thumerelle.

Finally, I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us for what will certainly be a dynamic evening of celebration and storytelling. 

I invite you to sit back and let the achievements of the Global Pluralism Award honourees inspire you and move you.

Thank you.

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2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony Ottawa, Canada Wednesday, 20 November 2019 1574271900 Opening remarks by Ms. Meredith Preston McGhie, GCP Secretary General, at the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony speech Canada 2010s 240706 1 Global Centre for Pluralism Civil society

Your Highness,
Rt Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
Rt Honourable Michaelle Jean,
Rt Honourable Joe Clark,
Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario,
Excellencies, and
Friends of the Global Centre for Pluralism,

I am delighted to welcome you, on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Board of Directors athe the Global Centre, to the second Global Pluralism Award. I would also like to take this opportunity to those viewers watching this live streamed online.

I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here in Ottawa on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Peoples.

I am Meredith Preston McGhie and I am honoured to serve as the Global Centre for Pluralism’s new Secretary General.

My wonderful predecessor, John McNee, is with us tonight and so I wanted to begin by thanking John. John, I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for your exceptional leadership in steering the Centre from its infancy to the global reputation it enjoys today.

As many of you know, the Centre is a public-private partnership between His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada.

Avec le soutien de nos fondateurs, le Centre est un rassembleur. Nous réunissons des décideurs politiques, des éducateurs, des activistes et des universitaires, pour échanger des connaissances et apprendre comment bâtir des sociétés plus pacifiques, prospères et fructueuses dans lesquelles la diversité est respectée.

Ce soir nous pouvons apprécier les efforts du Centre à réunir tant de défenseurs du pluralisme.

(With the support of our founders, the Centre brings people together. We bring policymakers, educators, activists and academics together to share knowledge and learn how to build more peaceful, prosperous and successful societies in which diversity is respected.

This evening we celebrate the work of the Centre in bringing together so many advocates of pluralism.)

Since joining the Centre last month, I have had the profound privilege of learning more about the ten exceptional recipients of the Global Pluralism Award.

Chosen by an independent jury from among over 500 submissions, their dedication and passion are deeply inspiring.

But most of all, their initiatives offer us creative and positive solutions. These are ten concrete examples of exceptional individuals and organisations who envision a world where differences are valued and diverse societies prosper.  I believe that all of us in this room share that vision. We must all be concerned, however, that this vision is not shared in many societies in which our recipients are working.

We at the Centre are immensely proud to be able to support these recipients to continue to make the compelling cases they are making for pluralism in these challenging contexts.

The ten recipients are doing such varied work that they are difficult to summarise. But a number of common threads weave them together and I wanted to share a few of these with you tonight.

Several of the organisations stand out for the innovative ways they are approaching peace building and reconciliation in volatile contexts. 

In Myanmar, the Centre for Social Integrity is empowering ethnically-diverse youth from conflict-affected regions to be leaders for change. The conflict prevention and leadership training that they are providing to youth is unique in the country.

The ‘Learning History that is not yet History’ network in the Balkans has developed approaches to history education that help both teachers and students reconcile with the painful, controversial, traumatic history of the wars in their societies.

And in Bangladesh, despite challenges of discrimination and social unrest, Rupantar is mobilising vulnerable populations at the grassroots, especially women and youth, to advocate for their rights and fight for social change.

Empowering the next generation of leaders is another common theme throughout this group. And a theme that is particularly dear to our hearts.

Using virtual exchange, Soliya from the United States, is bringing together young people across cultures and continents in structured online dialogues to build empathy.

The Afghanistan National Institute of Music gives marginalised children and youth access to high quality music and academic education in a co-educational environment, supporting their full inclusion in Afghan society.

In France, SINGA supports a new generation of newcomers build lasting personal and professional relationships with their host communities through mutual interests.

Finally, Deborah Ahenkorah, from Ghana, is helping African youth see their own experiences, see themselves reflected in African children’s literature, contributing to their sense of belonging, wellbeing and pride.

A third theme is that of bridging divides and bringing together people who would not normally sit at the same table, something that is absolutely critical for our mission for pluralism. .

onBoard Canada is a particularly compelling example – their board governance training and matching programmes are giving underrepresented individuals opportunities to sit at the table with not-for-profit and public sector boards for the first time.

In Lebanon, Adyan Foundation, is breaking down religious barriers, connecting people with different beliefs to share experiences and develop trust and understanding.

And the Artemisszio Foundation in Hungary is tackling the social exclusion of Hungary’s most disadvantaged populations, by creating communities that welcome Roma, migrants and refugees.

Whether building peace, enabling youth or bridging divides, the Award recipients are all committed to pursuing pluralism every day. This work is challenging, sometimes dangerous, and too often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, but not tonight. 

A compelling example of this however is that just this week, one of our recipients has been unable to travel to Ottawa to join us here tonight, as he and his network of pluralism champions in Lebanon are working to support dialogue in the midst of the evolving situation there.  We are very pleased that one of his partner colleagues has been able to join to accept on their behalf.

But I would like to briefly quote from his views on the situation in Lebanon – a reminder to all of us about the positive and, solution oriented engagements of our recipients, and I quote: "This dramatic situation also had its positive side, that it is bringing Lebanese from different communities and regions in solidarity with each other to claim a real change, facing corruption and populist and sectarian politics" end quote.

This is why the Global Centre for Pluralism believes it is critical to continue supporting the work of the recipients’ work beyond this ceremony.

Over the past year, the Centre helped give international profile to the accomplishments of the 2017 winners. With Afro-Colombian victims’ rights activist, Leyner Palacios Asprilla, the Centre has co-sponsored the screenings in Colombia and Canada of a feature-length documentary about his work – it is a film that I believe should be required viewing for all peacemakers. This has helped increase visibility and support of his efforts to seek justice for victims of the Colombian conflict.

The Centre has also supported the production of a report on family reunification of refugees to Australia with 2017 winner Daniel Webb and will support a further launch in early 2020. Finally, 2017 winner, Alice Nderitu has developed and launched a manual for women community mediators in armed conflict in Africa and is currently training women in several African countries.

We look forward very much to working with the 2019 recipients over the next year and beyond to help broaden their reach, new partnerships and increase their impact of the incredible work they are doing. 

Finally, I would just like to say that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark for his leadership and to our distinguished jury represented also here by His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi, for the countless hours of thoughtful discussion and decision-making that have led us here, with these ten exceptional exceptional recipients.

On that note, I am now delighted to welcome another lifelong champion of pluralism to the podium. 

His Highness the Aga Khan,

Votre Altesse, bienvenue.
(Your Highness, welcome.)

speech_240711 English
Donation ceremony of the Da Vinci Surgical System Lisbon, Portugal Friday, 8 November 2019 1573230600 Speech by Mr. Firoz Rasul at the Donation ceremony of the Da Vinci Surgical System speech Pakistan,Portugal 2010s 8941 1 Pakistan,Health,Aga Khan University,Portugal Aga Khan University Health

Bismillah-ir Rahman ir Rahim

His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic,
His Highness the Aga Khan,
Minister of Health, Madame Marta Temido,
President of the Central Hospitals of Lisbon, Madame Rosa Valente Matos,
Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat to the Portuguese Republic, Comendador, Nazim Ahmad,
Member of the Portuguese Delegation to the Seat Agreement’s Joint Committee, Mr. João Pedro Antunes,
Leaders of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat,
Distinguished guests,

On behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, I would like to welcome you to this inauguration ceremony.

We are especially honoured that the His Excellency, the President has joined us for this special occasion. Thank you, Your Excellency, not only for your presence, but for the gracious welcome and partnership that the Portuguese Republic has extended to the Ismaili Imamat.

We are here today to celebrate a milestone in the relationship between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic: the Ismaili Imamat’s donation of a Da Vinci surgical system to the Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, to be installed here, at the Curry Cabral Hospital. This is a cutting-edge, robotics-assisted technology for performing minimally invasive precision surgical procedures. It is the first such system in a public hospital in Portugal, and hence available to benefit the entire population of the country.

Yet while this technology is advanced and complicated, its impact is simple to state: it will expand access to high-quality surgical care for Portuguese suffering from a wide range of conditions, helping to ensure that they can lead healthy lives. As such, it will positively impact thousands of individuals and their loved ones. That is truly worth celebrating, and we are looking forward to seeing the evidence of this technology’s positive impact on quality of life through improved outcomes from difficult surgical procedures. 

The donation of the Da Vinci system is further evidence of the strengthening bond between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic, and of their joint commitment to improving quality of life in Portugal, in Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, and beyond.

The relationship between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat is longstanding. We well remember the welcome this country showed to the Ismailis who left Mozambique in the 1970s. And since the government’s generous invitation to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat here in Lisbon in 2015, that connection has been steadily expanding and deepening.

For example, the Aga Khan Development Network and Portugal’s Foundation for Science and Technology have partnered on the Knowledge for Development Initiative. Under this initiative, researchers in Portugal, Portuguese-speaking Africa, and at agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network are working to develop solutions to crucial challenges facing Africa. The first call awarded grant funding to 16 research projects, and the scope ranged from developing crops that can cope with climate change to understanding rising levels of drug-resistant HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Today, we are witnessing one of the first fruits of the partnership between the Aga Khan University and the Ministry of Health, which is another dimension of our strong relationship.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Aga Khan University – or AKU, as we call ourselves – we were founded in 1983 by our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan. We were Pakistan’s first private, not-for-profit university. We now also have campuses, programmes, and hospitals in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.

The Aga Khan University was recently named one of the top 100 universities worldwide in clinical medicine by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities – the only university in Asia to achieve that distinction. In 2019, the Aga Khan University and its fellow agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network will treat over 6 million patients, many in hospitals and outreach clinics accredited by organisations such as the US-based Joint Commission International and the College of American Pathologists. For those of you in the health business, you know these are the gold standards.

As president of the University, it is my pleasure to thank Minister Marta Temido and her predecessor, Professor Adalberto Campos Fernandes – who I am pleased to see here today – for their embrace of AKU as a partner. It was Professor Fernandes and the Curry Cabral’s renowned and recently retired surgical leader, Professor Eduardo Barroso, who identified the great need for a surgical robot in the national referral public hospital in Portugal – which ultimately led to today’s generous donation, which was finalised with Minister Marta Temido. 

The relationship between AKU and the Ministry holds great promise. Our Memorandum of Understanding envisions mutually beneficial collaborations in operating room management, emergency care, data analysis, research, and many other areas.

When Professor Eduardo Barroso visited AKU’s campus in Karachi, he proposed a collaboration on surgical specialties, including robot-assisted procedures. With the assistance of Professor Barroso and his team, AKU is working to begin commencing liver transplant operations at our hospitals in Karachi and Nairobi. This would be a major benefit to the people of Pakistan and East Africa.

At the same time, the Aga Khan University is assisting Portuguese medical schools in developing their capacity to train doctors and nurses using state-of-the-art simulation and virtual-reality tools. As a delegation from the Ministry of Health discovered during its visit to the Aga Khan University, our own Centre for Innovation in Medical Education is second-to-none in this field.

And there are still more linkages growing between Portuguese institutions and the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat. The Aga Khan University now has active partnerships with the Catholic University of Portugal and the NOVA University of Lisbon. In June of this year, AKU and NOVA co-hosted an international symposium in Lisbon on the ethics of stem-cell research and regenerative medicine, which is the next phase of medical advancement. That event brought together experts from seven countries and different faiths to discuss the latest issues in this rapidly advancing field, and to lay the groundwork for assisting low-income countries in developing their own legal and regulatory frameworks based on the ethics of these new discoveries.

The Aga Khan University and Catolica are working together to create an online database of tens of thousands of documents held at the Overseas Historical Archive in Lisbon – documents that cover Portuguese activity in the Indian Ocean region from the 16th to the 19th century. It is an exciting project that will enable scholars worldwide to deepen our understanding of centuries of cross-cultural interaction and the long reach and influence of Portugal in history.

I am pleased to say that AKU also has emerging relationships with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Champalimaud Foundation. Ultimately, what makes these partnerships possible is the values we all hold in common.

As the donation we are celebrating today demonstrates, we all believe that every person ought to have access to outstanding health care, regardless of where they were born or their financial resources. This is the vision of our Chancellor, of making sure access to the highest quality care is available to everyone, regardless of where they are from or their financial condition.

So, whether you live in Portugal, Mozambique, Kenya, or Pakistan – whether you are a patient in a public hospital or a private hospital – you should be able to benefit from the latest diagnostics, treatments, and technologies.

We all believe in the power of partnership to improve people’s lives and positively impact institutions and societies. Partnerships are two-way streets. Both parties must contribute to them and nurture them. Reciprocal benefits flow from collective commitments of time, funds, knowledge, expertise, or equipment. The donation of the Da Vinci system reflects our commitment to the partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and its institutions and Portugal.

It is given in the spirit of all true gifts – in recognition of all that we may have already received, in acknowledgement of all that we will gain, with a full heart and a sense of gratitude. And it is also given with optimism regarding the future, and our collective capacity to shape it for the better.

Thank you very much. 

speech_239601 <p dir="rtl">"يمثل التبرع بنظام دافنشي دليلاً إضافياً على العلاقة القوية التي تربط بين الإمامة الإسماعيلية والجمهورية البرتغالية، والتزامهما المشترك بتحسين نوعية الحياة في البرتغال، وفي البلدان الناطقة بالبرتغالية في إفريقيا، وما وراءها."</p> English
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 Presentation Ceremony Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation Friday, 13 September 2019 1568373300 Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 Presentation Ceremony speech Russia 2010s 6926 2019 Cycle 1 Aga Khan Trust for Culture Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) Architecture

As-salamu ‘alaykum, Peace be upon you

Your Excellency Mintimer Shaimiev,
Your Excellency Eleonora Mitrofanova,
Respected Members of the Government,
Distinguished Guests

What an enormous pleasure it is to welcome all of you to this ceremony.

We gather today with a group of extraordinary people, in an extraordinary place, and for an extraordinary purpose.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is organised around a series of three-year cycles - each one culminating in the recognition of our Award recipients.

Tonight we celebrate the outcomes of our Fourteenth Cycle. 

This is an extraordinary moment for me as I think back to our decision to launch this programme - more than four decades ago.

What led to that decision? - You may ask - as many have asked, then and since. Just why should the Ismaili Imamat become so deeply involved in the world of professional architecture?

The simple answer lies in my conviction that Architecture - more than any other art form - has a profound impact on the quality of human life. As it has often been said, we shape our built environment - and then our buildings shape us.

This close relationship of architecture to the quality of human experience has a particularly profound resonance in the developing world.  I believe that we all have a responsibility to improve the quality of life whenever and wherever that opportunity arises.  Our commitment to influencing the quality of architecture - intellectually and materially - grows directly out of our commitment to improving the quality of human life.

As you may know, over these four decades, we have recognised a vast array of architectural contributions, including over nine thousand nominated projects.

But the value of this programme goes far beyond recognising specific projects.

The Aga Khan Architectural Award is not simply a prize; it is a process.

This process involves a wide range of conversations - all across the world - that shape the selection process. 

The theme of the Cycle, which culminates today is: “Architecture in Dialogue”.  This theme, which emerged out of the deliberations of the Steering Committee and Master Jury, sees architecture as a robust interchange, one that can embrace a variety of diverse and even divergent perspectives.

A true dialogue requires not only that we articulate one perspective, but also that we listen – attentively - to other perspectives. More than that, it asks us not only to listen to one another, but also to learn from one another.

There are several ways in which architecture can blend different perspectives. Let me briefly describe just four of them, 

First of all, we must foster a healthy dialogue among the actual participants in the architectural process. I do not mean only the skilled architects themselves, but also those who collaborate with them - clients, community leaders, public officials, educators, and the builders, designers, and craftsmen who help realise their plans. Our Master Jury for this cycle paid close attention to this dimension, looking at qualities such as leadership, cooperation, and openness - qualities that help produce creative dialogue.

A second dialogue that advances the best in human architecture is an open dialogue between the past and the future. This means more than simply copying the past - or merely tacking some ancient arch or minaret or calligraphy onto a new building. On the other hand, it also means more than a heedless modernistic approach that ignores our rich heritage. Our realisation, more than 40 years ago, that architectural practice in Muslim societies had recently been forgetting its own history, helped us to shape the nature of this Award.

The dialogue we seek is one that will blend the inspiration of the past with the demands of the future. The demands are many: environmental, social, technological, and economic, not to mention the challenges of political polarisation. In all of these respects, looking back can help us look ahead - and vice versa.

A third dialogue that commands architectural attention is the dialogue between nature on the one hand and human creativity on the other. Both the natural world and the world of human capacities are divine gifts, but it is tempting sometimes to embrace one without thinking much about the other.

The Holy Quran asks Muslims not to be passive recipients of our Natural Habitat but instead to be faithful stewards of the divine creation; we need to expand our commitment in all directions. This means not merely conforming to the power of nature, but actively engaging with its challenges. At the same time we must be careful not to exaggerate the capacities for human mastery – trying to defy nature is counterproductive in many ways. A reflective dialogue between natural realities and human capabilities is also at the essence of architectural excellence.

Fourth and finally, I would emphasise the importance of intercultural dialogue in meeting the Architectural opportunities of our time. I have mentioned how this Award grew out of a concern with the deterioration - what some of us called the “hibernation” - of rich Muslim architectural traditions. But honouring one’s own historic identity, should not imply some sort of narrow isolation.

The rich architectural dialogue we seek to foster should include a renewed respect for the rich diversity of Islamic cultures themselves. As a way to exemplify this concern, we recently opened a new Aga Khan Centre in London in which seven Islamic gardens have been created, reflecting seven different Muslim traditions.

In addition, we should also be working to foster a rich dialogue with non-Islamic cultures - including diverse religious traditions. Architecture can lead the way in this effort - as we listen to one another and learn from one another across old divides.

Pluralism means more than merely tolerating a diversity of influences and ideas.  It also means welcoming the learning opportunities that diversity provides, finding ways to honour that which is unique in our individual traditions as well as those values that connect us to all of humankind.  

We must think of diversity itself as a divine gift, a blessing and not a burden.

I mentioned earlier that we are meeting today in a special place. Tatarstan has, for centuries, been a place of exceptional commitment to pluralistic values. The city of Kazan and the larger region have long been renowned for their rich mix of ethnicities, and cultures, including the impressive way in which their architectural heritage has been preserved and respected. 

It is striking to realise that nearby Bolgar, which I visited yesterday, became a Muslim religious centre as early as 922 - almost eleven hundred years ago. Through the centuries the spirit of pluralism in Tatarstan has known times of difficult challenge and times of inspiring renewal. But through everything, a commitment to inclusiveness has persisted. This spirit was encouraged under the pluralist leadership of several of the Muslim Khanates that governed the area in the 14th and 15th centuries, and also some later Russian rulers, such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. And it has been dramatically evident here in recent years. 

On my visits in Kazan, and in Bolgar, I have seen how committed people can honour the power both of cultural identity and cultural pluralism. It is striking to see how churches and mosques, for example, have been built and preserved right next to one another as powerful symbols of a profound intercultural Dialogue.

I would hope that we all can help point the rest of the world to the powerful pluralistic model of places like Kazan and Bolgar.

The world is in need of such examples. Human challenges seem to intensify at an accelerating pace these days - climate change, economic and technological inequalities, epidemics, political polarisation, population displacements and the daunting task of helping one another to live together in dignity.

I believe deeply in the potential of the architectural world to help inspire and enrich a creative dialogue in all four of the areas I have mentioned: a dialogue between creative architectural partners, a dialogue between past and future, a dialogue between natural reality and human creativity, and a dialogue among diverse cultures.

When I first anticipated this visit to Tatarstan - my thoughts went back to other Award presentations through these four decades. The very first presentations were held in Lahore in Pakistan and I remember expressing my hope that night that these Awards would not be seen as the end of a story but rather as a bold beginning - stimulating further discussion, insights, questions, debates, and “perhaps even more, some worries” – as I put it then - about our architectural future. And I must say today how pleased I am that my hopes I expressed in Lahore four decades ago have been fulfilled.

The fact that our theme today is built around the word “Dialogue” testifies to our continuing aspirations. My thanks go to all of you for being a part of this extraordinary celebration - as we reflect, gratefully, on both the inspiring gifts of the past and the rich possibilities of the future.

speech_236286 English
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 Ceremony Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation Friday, 13 September 2019 1568373300 Speech by M. Sh. Shaimiev, State Counsellor of the Republic of Tatarstan, at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 Ceremony speech Russia 2010s 236276 2019 Cycle 1 Aga Khan Trust for Culture Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) Architecture

Your Highness, esteemed Prince Karim Aga Khan
Distinguished participants of the ceremony
Dear friends

The capital of Tatarstan is hosting the ceremony of the world famous Aga Khan Award for Architecture, aimed at preservation and protection of historical monuments and landscape architecture. It is truly a landmark event for all of us.

First of all, please allow me to express my deepest gratitude on behalf of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and myself personally for the recognition given to the programme for the development of public spaces implemented by the Republic and the honour of hosting this ceremony in Kazan. Thank you very much.

The sustainably developing multinational Tatarstan is increasingly frequently becoming the host for large international forums held in the Russian Federation. This trend we believe is evidence of the fact that we are pursuing the right course of transformations taking place in the Republic for the benefit of the welfare of the people.

We build on the rich historical and cultural heritage of our people and their contribution to the common heritage of all mankind, and we proclaim it loudly. We pay special attention to the preservation of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional peace and harmony, the revival of spirituality. The Muslim shrines of the ancient Bolgar, the Orthodox sites of the island-town of Sviyazhsk, and the Kazan Kremlin are equally valuable and important for us. These three historical sites are inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. This work, as I have repeatedly stated, is Republic-wide done whole-heartedly “from soul to soul”.

Taking advantage of the fact that at tonight’s ceremony we have the pleasure of the company of the former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, the former Permanent Representative of Russia to UNESCO, Eleanora Mitrofanova, I would like to thank them on behalf of the people of Tatarstan for their fruitful cooperation in reviving this historical heritage. Thank you very much. Today we also share constructive understanding with the new leadership of UNESCO and its institutions.

I want to note that the Republic “Revival” Foundation, of which I chair the Board of Trustees, this year completed a nine-year (2010-2018) project on the revival of historical monuments of the ancient city of Bolgar and the island-town of Sviyazhsk. Most recently, we embarked on a project to create multilingual educational complexes where children will be educated in three languages: Russian, Tatar and English.

We are very pleased to know that you, Your Highness, as a public figure and person who has founded many educational institutions around the world, feel strongly about these problems. Once you said: “We live in a knowledge society today where access to good quality education and research leads to sustainable development.” It is impossible to disagree with this. We fully share this thought. Moreover, you are implementing the largest charitable, educational and humanitarian projects, support proactive, creative people, regardless of nationality or confession. Your peacekeeping mission, your commitment to bringing civilisations closer and achieving unity in diversity are consonant with our goals, especially to mine, as the UNESCO Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue. The same ideas were highlighted during the high-profile and much publicised Kazan Forum, which we held in September last year.

Many projects implemented in Tatarstan are aimed at addressing the most relevant life problems of the population. These are the programmes focused on eradicating the problem of dilapidated housing, continuous gasification and IT development in the settlements and villages of the Republic, construction of roads and many other initiatives. When we travelled by helicopter in Bolgar yesterday, you could see what I'm talking about now. All of the settlements, even the most remote, have access to gas and roads are under construction. 

The 2015 initiative of the President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov to implement the Programme for the Development of Public Spaces became a valuable continuation of our aspirations. Now there are beautiful parks and squares in all major cities and most regions of the Republic. These are the places where everyone will find something to their liking, where the people would feel comfortable and safe.

It is a rather challenging and important work, which cannot be done without professionals. Therefore, we conduct ongoing training of specialists, work with local craftsmen, and businesses, which allows us to use resources more efficiently, develop the local economy and create new jobs. All this is done by a young ambitious team that works for the benefit of the Tatarstan people - and they feel it.

A lot has been accomplished over the period of five years. More than 330 embankments, boulevards, parks and squares were built, another 60 sites will be commissioned soon. Development of comfortable public spaces is, above all, our concern and care for people. It breeds love and respect for the native land.

Dear participants of the ceremony,

It is a great honour and pleasure for us to receive the Aga Khan Award for Architecture along with five other important projects from Bangladesh, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates, Senegal and Bahrain. We congratulate you from the bottom of our hearts for this achievement.

It gives us confidence that we are following the right path, and inspires us to develop. Currently, a new three-year project on landscaping the grounds around blocks of flats is being launched in the Republic, so that they also could become an oasis of cosiness and comfort, something that we lack in the metropolitan areas. We will invest about 50 billion rubbles for these purposes over the coming few years. It was announced during the successful election campaign. People made their opinion on how the project should be realised. It is the first time that we are engaging in a social project such as this.

Your Highness, we regard this Award as a high assessment of all the multifaceted activities carried out in the Republic in the interests of the people. Thank you very much! Bik zur rәkhmәt!

In conclusion, I want to say that we are open for cooperation with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. At present, scientists from the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Kazan Federal University are actively engaged in the scientific study of the Great Silk Road and Great Volga Route. Since the early 2000s, scientific conferences, seminars and round tables have been held on this topic. The theme of the Great Silk Road is also relevant for Tatarstan. Scientists have determined that the Volga, Caucasus and Siberian corridors are most important for the Russian Federation and we started active collaboration with the countries of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In 2018, our expert representative participated and made a presentation at the 5th meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the countries participating in the UNESCO Great Silk Road cross-border nomination, which brings together more than twelve countries. By the end of this year, a meeting of the 6th Coordinating Committee is scheduled in Iran.

Given the fact that Tatarstan has highly qualified specialists and  scholars, recognised experts of UNESCO institutes, Your Highness, we could take part in the joint work on the development of a project to study specific corridors of the Great Silk Road. I hope that we will find common ground in the implementation of a number of other projects aimed at realising our common noble goals.

Yesterday in Bolgar, we discussed how we could use your great knowledge of architecture. I would say that you very wisely interpreted the meaning of modern architecture in conjunction with nature, landscaping and the environment, so as to serve the needs of humankind. That's why the meeting with you  and your wonderful team encourages us to seek ways to collaborate on great new projects. Most importantly, as we say, develop and prosper. 

Thank you to all.

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Aga Khan Museum opens "Seeing Through Babel" exhibition in London London, United Kingdom Friday, 5 July 2019 1562258700 Remarks by Henry S. Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum, at the exhibition "Seeing Through Babel" in London speech United Kingdom 2010s 233291 1 Aga Khan Trust for Culture,United Kingdom,Culture Aga Khan Trust for Culture Aga Khan Museum Culture

Good evening, and welcome all.

When the opportunity arose to bring an exhibition to London, to the Zamana Space in the Ismaili Centre, I was really intrigued by this possibility. London is after all such an important forum for contemporary art from across the Muslim world. With the work the Aga Khan Museum has undertaken in just under five years with contemporary artists, I felt it was imperative to bring something we have created, a process we have created to London to show the London audience what the Museum stands for. And that’s what exactly we have done today.

Before I introduce the artist, I would like to acknowledge a number of people who have helped to make this happen. And first of all, I’d like to acknowledge the President and Vice-President of the Ismaili Council of the United Kingdom, as well as their leads for outreach and community relations, and their project managers, all of whom are volunteers, for their leadership and support in realising this vision. Without your leadership, none of this would have happened. I would also like to thank the management and staff of the Ismaili Centre who have helped in so many ways to make this exhibition happen, from building scaffolding, to patiently listening to crazy ideas about hanging objects from their ceilings, straight through to dismantling things saying ‘we’ll put them back at some later point.’ I would like most of all to thank the many volunteers who will be part of the manning of this exhibition and the shop over the next six weeks, also for the dozen or so students from the University of the Arts London who assisted Kevork in developing his work. And of course I would like to thank our many supporters here in London. Our patrons, our director’s circle members, our donors, who have steadfastly supported the museum since opening. And I am very pleased to say that this Museum, from about three years ago, has a chapter of Patrons, based here in London, led by Faisal Lalji and our steering committee, and with this presence in London, we are able to offer programming about the arts of the Muslim world, about what happens in Toronto for people who live here in London. And for us, this is a very important point because the Aga Khan Museum, even though it is based in Toronto is a museum that has true international aspirations. We are a Museum that is present here in London, also Dubai, also in the States, also across Canada. And this is a very important point about what the Museum us all about, because we cannot simply talk about Islamic art just in one city, we need to be able to spread this message across all the cities we can. And so thank you very much for all of your help and support, because with it, we could not have created this exhibition in London right now.

Now I would like to introduce the man of the moment, the artist Kevork Mourad. Kevork is a remarkable artist who is Syrian, Armenian and American. And I think it is very interesting that Kevork views himself in a sense as a double refugee, as his family had to flee to Syria from Armenia back in the easier part of the 20th century. There has of course been Syrian refugees in the last seven or so years, and creating identity for oneself as you move from one country to another is very very important. How much of your past do you take with you? How much of your present do you now incorporate into your lives? And I think if an artist is the sum of all of his moments and all of his pasts, Kevork is a very good example of an artist who does look forwards as well as backwards. And so when you look at his work, not only look at the creativity that a contemporary artist brings to bear, but also look at this historic ideas that are in his mind that he transfers onto the medium in which he works.

Kevork has been involved with the Aga Khan Museum, with projects over the last three years, and this installation is his fourth project with us. In 2016 he performed with the clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, also a Syrian artist, to create a sound and visual performance in which the music of Kinan was combined with Kevork’s graphic art in a way that is very similar to what you are going to see in just a few moments. Based on that, we invited them back in 2017 to create the centrepiece of our exhibition called the Syrian Symphony, which broke new ground on how contemporary artists from Syria are responding to and expressing the thoughts of a nation and people gripped by years of civil war. This last February, Kevork returned as artist-in-residence in the Museum, creating a three dimensional work which was installed in February, and which I am pleased to say we re-installed just about 3 weeks ago.

His work is, I think, truly extraordinary. And I think you will agree with us when you see not only the process by which he creates, but also the work itself.

What I have found most pleasing about the interaction between Kevork and the Museum, is that we have seen real progression in his artistic practice over the course of the three years we have known each other. As a Museum, we are not simply keen to display the works of contemporary artists, instead we want to work collaboratively with them on the intellectual ideas of a work or display. Our chosen angles as a Museum are to explore the connections between cultures or the links between artistic practices of the past and the present. We have artists study objects in our collections, or work with local area students, or watch the performances that take place in our auditorium.  The more that we can integrate the various art forms together, whether music, visual arts, dance, poetry, the written word, the better. Because as we all know, the arts are not monolithic, they are truly diverse, and the more that we can find the links between the arts, the more creative I think the process will be.

With Kevork, we found an artist who has been intellectually curious, to explore themes of migration and displacement, or the links between the past and the present. His expression of these ideas were accompanied by changes in his creative process, as his graphic art began to move away from the two-dimensional into what you see today which is better described as a graphic sculpture, rather than simply a print or a drawing.

And so it is with great pleasure that I introduce Kevork Mourad, who will provide us with some idea of the way he creates the art that he does, because music is essential to his process. And as you’ve heard from those who spoke before, what is important about his work is that with Seeing Through Babel he explains the beginnings of diversity, and that is through the multiple languages that were created through the Tower of Babel, and this I think is an important theme in today’s day and age. So without further ado, Kevork Mourad.

speech_233286 <p dir="RTL">عندما أُتيحت الفرصة لإقامة معرض في صالة "زمانا" في المركز الإسماعيلي في لندن، كنت مفتوناً حقاً بهذا الحدث، لأن لندن في النهاية منتدى مهم للفن المعاصر من جميع أنحاء العالم الإسلامي. عبر العمل الذي قام به متحف الآغا خان خلال أقل من خمس سنوات مع الفنانين المعاصرين، شعرت أنه من الضروري إحضار شيء قمنا بإنشائه إلى لندن لتمكين الجمهور هنا من رؤية ما يمثله المتحف، وهذا بالضبط ما فعلناه اليوم.</p> English
Aga Khan Museum opens “Seeing Through Babel” exhibition in London London, United Kingdom Friday, 5 July 2019 1562255100 Remarks by Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the exhibition "Seeing Through Babel" in London speech United Kingdom 2010s 227931 1 Aga Khan Trust for Culture,United Kingdom,Culture Aga Khan Trust for Culture Aga Khan Museum Culture

Thank you very much, and it is with great pleasure that I open this exhibition.  

Your Worships,
My Lords,
Ladies, and Gentlemen,

I had to ask how to read this particular speech because I was not sure one could pluralise Worships and Councillors.

When the Ismaili Centre opened in 1985, it was designed with a purpose built space, called the Zamana Gallery. With its independent entrance on Cromwell Road, directly across from the V&A, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, it was designed to be part of this rich cultural corridor. Complementing the haute couture, Renaissance sculpture, dinosaurs, bees, cogs and computers of its neighbours, the intention was that Zamana would foster dialogue among communities about the art, society and culture of the Muslim world and that it would reflect the dialogue between cultures that has always existed as a result of man’s urge and need to travel, to discover, to conquer, or to sell his goods and buy others.

I had urged Sir Roy Strong, all those years ago, to use this gallery to show the V&A’s remarkable collection of works of art from the Muslim world, at the time largely kept in the Museum’s reserves and he had agreed in principle with the idea. However, nothing came of it. Later, I made the same suggestion to the then Minister of Culture. But again, nothing actually took place. So it was with some sadness that I saw this gallery go into hibernation those some twenty-five years ago. Since then, appreciation of the arts from the Muslim world has, I think, grown and flourished. Galleries have been created or re-developed at great museums such as the V&A and the British Museum.  Festivals have been created to showcase the arts from the Arab world, South Asia and the Muslim world in general. Many foundations have been created to support artistic practice. And artists have flocked to London, for its art-schools and opportunities to pursue their practices in the rich milieu of this city. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that during this time London has in many ways become a centre for both the historic and the contemporary arts of the Islamic Muslim world.

Which brings us to today, and the reopening of the Zamana Space. I am pleased that the Ismaili Centre chose to revive the space in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum, a museum based in Toronto, for which I serve as Chairman of its Board, for better or probably for worse. Although it is less than five years old, the Museum has begun to make a mark for itself as one of the leaders in the arts of the Muslim world. Its mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions that Muslim civilisations have made to world heritage, by showing their arts in their many and varied forms from across the world. Its exhibitions have begun to gain notoriety, mostly, I am happy to say, in the good sense of that word, including the current and successful exhibition on the Moon. And the Museum’s work with the artists, whether musicians, dancers or visual artists, has, I believe, begun to break new ground.  

I am very keen that the arts should speak to each other. The arts reflect our senses, and as our senses talk to each other, so the arts should talk to each other. It is in my view a mistake to show one art totally independent of all other arts. So as often as possible, I like to see a dialogue between the arts.

This gallery in the Ismaili Centre was one of the first locations where the Aga Khan Museum’s collection was displayed following the announcement of the building of the Museum in Toronto. In 2007, a dozen years ago, a selection of treasures of the Museum's collection was displayed in the Social Hall here, attracting 50,000 visitors during its run.

As you will have no doubt guessed, now that the Zamana is operating again, and we even have exhibition spaces available in the new Aga Khan Centre up in Kings Cross, it is my hope that the Aga Museum will be able to mount interesting temporary exhibitions with the V&A, and the other major British institutions having important places of works of art from, or related to, the Muslim world. Thus reinforcing, which I think is important, the message that culture unites rather than divides.

I will leave the introduction of the work you will see and the artist you will meet to the Director and CEO of the Museum, Henry Kim, and the artist Kevork Mourad. However, I will say that they have shown great imagination in how they have used the Space to create this exhibition of sound and visual art. I am also extremely pleased that the Space is not only the host to the exhibition, but also to a small retail shop from the Museum. This must be one of the few times when cultural dialogue and commercial dialogue actually get together. The shop is home to a unique collection of jewellery, fashion, ceramics, textiles and books that have been developed and sourced from traditional and contemporary artists from throughout the Muslim world, after long hours of searching and researching, that has been both fun, and in many ways inspiring.

The Shop too has its roots in cultural dialogue. So I hope that you will all enjoy the show, and I hope that inshallah we will meet again for the next show - nice and soon please Mr Kim.

Thank you.

speech_233271 <p dir="rtl">"أتمنى أن يتمكن متحف الآغا خان من إقامة معارض مؤقتة مثيرة للاهتمام بالتعاون مع متحف "فيكتوريا وألبرت" وغيرها من المؤسسات البريطانية الرئيسية التي لديها أماكن مهمة فيما يتعلق بالأعمال الفنية، أو تلك ذات الصلة بالعالم الإسلامي، وبالتالي فإن تعزيز الرسالة، التي أعتقد أنها تشكل أهمية، تتمثل في توحيد الثقافة بدلاً من تقسيمها."</p> English
Signing of MoU between the Nova University and the Aga Khan University Lisbon, Portugal Tuesday, 18 June 2019 1560412800 Remarks by Mr. Firoz Rasul at the signing of MoU between the Nova University and the Aga Khan University speech Pakistan 2010s 8941 1 Aga Khan University,Pakistan,Education,Health Aga Khan University Education,Health

Professor João Sàágua, Rector of the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa,
Aga Khan University Trustee Professor Antonio Rendas,
Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat, Mr Nazim Ahmad,
Leaders, faculty, and staff of NOVA and Aga Khan University,
Distinguished guests,

Partnerships between institutions, like friendships between individuals, are built on shared values. And there can be no doubt that the Aga Khan University and the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa share important values.

Let me offer just one example: the mottos of our two universities. NOVA’s motto is taken from the New Testament: “Every city divided against itself shall not stand.” That of AKU, which you will find inscribed in the University’s seal, is taken from the Qur’an. It urges us: “Be not divided among yourselves…for God joined your hearts in love.”

Is that not remarkable? Here we have two universities, separated by 9,000 kilometres, citing two different holy scriptures to express their deepest values – and choosing verses that articulate an identical desire for unity.

Moreover, we both act upon these mottos in a similar fashion. We see them as a summons to reach across borders and boundaries to form partnerships and advance knowledge.  

AKU and NOVA are also lucky to share a great friend: Professor Antonio Rendas, former Rector of NOVA, and a member of AKU’s Board of Trustees. Thank you, Trustee Professor Rendas, for everything you have done to bring our institutions together and make the signing of this agreement possible.

I know I speak for everyone at AKU when I say: We are excited about this partnership. We believe it is full of promise, and we are eager to see it succeed, expand, and endure.

One reason for our enthusiasm is that our collaboration is off to a strong start. We have gathered an exceptional group of scientists and scholars for today’s inaugural Symposium on Stem Cell Science, Regenerative Medicine, Ethics, and Society. Our discussions are sure to stimulate fresh thinking. And they are sure to fuel further conversations about how AKU and NOVA can learn from one another and contribute to the progress of this extraordinarily important area of scientific inquiry.

As you know, AKU is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The partnership between NOVA and AKU is part of the Network’s larger commitment to Portugal – a commitment that was sealed by the signing of the agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic to establish the Seat, or Diwan, of the Imamat in Portugal.

As AKU’s founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, said in accepting an honorary doctorate from NOVA: “We hold an enduring affinity for Portugal and its institutions, its history, and its people.”

The signing of this agreement is yet another expression of that affinity, and its power to bring people together to pursue knowledge, improve quality of life around the world, and enhance understanding of the value of pluralism.

Thank you.



speech_232646 <p dir="rtl">"تتشابه الشراكات بين المؤسسات مع الصداقات بين الأفراد، فهي مبنية على القيم المشتركة، وليس ثمة شك بأن جامعة الآغا خان وجامعة نوفا لشبونة تشتركان بالعديد من القيم الهامة."</p> English
GCP Annual Pluralism Lecture 2019 Lisbon, Portugal Tuesday, 11 June 2019 1560269700 Introductory remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the GCP Annual Pluralism Lecture 2019 speech Canada,Portugal 2010s 6926 1 Canada Global Centre for Pluralism


Ms. Mohammed,
Your Excellency, the President of the Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you, on behalf of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, to the 2019 Pluralism Lecture here at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon. 

I am delighted that this seventh annual Lecture is being delivered in Portugal. And I say that not only because this beautiful country is steeped in global history and culture, and usually drenched in sunshine. For those of us who believe in the bridge-building work of pluralism, Portugal has much to teach, even as it confronts its own challenges.

This country is blessed with a long history of productive co-existence among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The History of Al-Andalus was written here, on the Iberian Peninsula, between the 8thand 16thcenturies. This blending of cultures, religions and languages brought innovations in architecture, agriculture, medicine and even cuisine that are woven now into the very fabric of modern Portugal.

In July last year, the Global Peace Index ranked Portugal amongst the five most peaceful nations in the world. And for good reason. At a time of rising intolerance, this country has established some of the most welcoming policies for migrants in Europe. As populations in many Western countries are aging, and even dwindling, Portugal is among the few that recognise that newcomers are essential to secure the country’s future.

This welcoming attitude is one of the most strongly associated with pluralism, which is the core mission of the Global Centre for Pluralism. As a beacon of research, education and dialogue, the Centre is drawing lessons from the political, social and cultural dynamics in diverse and divided societies around the world. I encourage all of you to explore what the Centre has to offer. By learning from others’ successes, we may help our own societies to “inoculate” themselves against the temptation to set various people against one another – including the temptation to exclude marginalised populations.

Tonight’s speaker, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, has had an extraordinary life journey, and we are all privileged to be able to benefit from her insights. Thank you.

Ms. Mohammed’s active involvement with global development, and her passionate commitment to girls’ education – both go back almost twenty years, when she coordinated the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project. In 2005, as Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals, she was charged with steering Nigeria’s debt relief funds toward achieving those Goals.  The MDGs, in shorthand, refer to the eight Goals that gave the world a blueprint for tackling its greatest social and economic challenges from 2000 to 2015.

Ms. Mohammed at first described herself as something of a sceptic about that project – how could one possibly reduce the worlds challenges to eight goals? – she asked. Nonetheless, she embraced the cause. With dogged persistence, she helped to ensure that some one billion dollars a year went where it was needed and intended − to reducing maternal mortality, giving communities safe water access, and providing good schools and teachers for Nigerian students. 

In 2012, Amina Mohammed took on another global role as Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the next stage of the United Nations Development Planning – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Her new challenge was to work with, a small number, 193 nations to replace the MDGs with a new overarching framework for global development up to 2030.

In characterising this new framework era, Ms. Mohammed has said and I quote:  “Development is no longer an issue of the Global South. It is an issue of the Global North, South, East and West.” Indeed, all member nations of the United Nations − including Canada, Portugal and Nigeria − and 190 other countries, have accepted the Goals as their own national objectives. Agenda 2030 calls for action by all countries for all people.

Ms. Mohammed then stepped from the conceptual stage at the United Nations back into the implementation area at home. As Federal Minister of Environment, she steered Nigeria’s action on climate change and resource conservation for sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed is an outspoken advocate for global action on climate change, for children’s education, and for the protection of human rights. Above all, she has described gender equality − Sustainable Development Goal number 5 − as the quote “docking station” for all the other Goals, an essential conduit for their achievement.

She has served as Director, Governor or Advisor on numerous Boards, including the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And she has received too many honours and awards for me to name, for I fear I will leave no time for her lecture.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my very great privilege to welcome our annual Pluralism Lecturer for 2019, Ms. Amina Mohammed.

Thank you.

speech_232421 English