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Ana María López and Gloriana Turcios

Speeches from Ms Ana María López from Mexico and Ms Gloriana Turcios from Costa Rica, participants in the Master’s in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development, during the opening of academic year 2016 at the School of Development in Turin, ITC-ILO

My name is Ana María López, from Mexico, and this is my fellow student Gloriana Turcios, from Costa Rica.

We are students on the Master’s in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development. We are very grateful for the opportunity to take part in an event of such importance to the international community: the opening of the Turin School of Development.

We feel privileged to form part of the class of 2015–2016, one of the most multicultural years in the history of this master’s programme. In total, there are 22 men and women of 18 different nationalities on the course who share a set of common values and principles that have the central theme of culture and sustainable human development.

 

The first Human Development Report, published in 1990, began with a simple but profound phrase:

 

 People are the real wealth of a nation

 

Latin America has an enormously rich and varied cultural diversity. The region has more than 420 languages spoken by around 800 different indigenous populations, which account for a total of around 50 million people (about 10 percent of the total population).

Nevertheless, we are faced with a complex situation: we are the most unequal region in the world and unfortunately my country, Mexico, is no exception.

Inequality limits the economic, political, social and human development necessary to improving people’s standards of living and welfare.

While it is true that over the last decade we have made significant progress, this inequality gap means that we are still faced with an endless array of challenges concerning security, human rights, gender equality, the fight against poverty, economic development and democratic governability.

Unfortunately, it is the indigenous people who face the greatest challenges in terms of human development.

I worked for the United Nations Development Programme for 10 years. So as you can imagine, I am a firm believer that all human beings must have equal opportunities if we are to develop the skills that will give us freedom to choose and build the life that we want – a long, healthy and creative life.

Working at the UN was a unique experience, and the best school for me to begin my career. It is there that I strengthened my awareness of and commitment to human rights. It also gave me the opportunity to meet and work with people who are deeply committed to our country and its community. I would like to give a special mention to the indigenous women who never give up, working for years alongside – and for the good of – other women currently involved in the struggle and facing triple discrimination because they are indigenous, female and poor.

 During my professional career at the United Nations, I always felt inspired and hopeful, with a real sense of transforming the world. Nevertheless, I decided to change direction and went to work for my country’s government. I wanted to get to know the challenges involved in designing and implementing public policy first-hand, in order to reduce inequality gaps and build a fairer world.

It was a very educational and satisfactory experience, and I was proud to represent Mexico and witness the high regard our country is held in worldwide, especially when it comes to our culture.

However, I was also able to recognize the huge challenges we faced in terms of transparency and accountability, as well as to strengthen the principles of respect and non-discrimination.

It was, in part, this process of waking up to reality that made me realize that I had to stop and take stock, gain some perspective and reconsider the best way for me to work for my country.

Convinced that culture is a fundamental vehicle for sustainable human development, I decided to take some time out from my professional career and strengthen my academic training in this sector, which was new to me. And here I am, at the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization, studying on the Master’s in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development.

Once again I am embracing the principles and values that I believe in and trained in.

Up to now, I have taken away a lot more from this course than I expected, not just in terms of academic learning but, above all, in terms of intercultural exchange. I am grateful for this opportunity to share such interesting and diverse visions of the world.

I would like to close my speech with a quote from the Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano:

Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I'll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.

 

Ana María López Ayala.

 

 

Thanks to Costa Rica’s rich natural environment, I grew up surrounded by nature: it is something I have felt passionately about ever since I was a girl. I identify strongly with the preservation and protection of the environment, and this is what led me to study biology. I also discovered another great passion very early on in life: a passion for art. I have worked as an independent artist for many years, and I firmly believe in artistic expression as a vehicle for change in society.

Over many years, I have engaged with these two passions and professions in parallel. But I did not find the thread that brings them together until I understood that both are based on the concept of holistic development, both for people on a personal level and humanity as a whole. This was why I took the decision to apply for the Master’s in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development: in order to find the knowledge and tools I need to generate input to sustainable development.

This concept, which encompasses society, the environment and the economy, invites joint efforts and a search for unity in a world that tends towards an individualistic vision. It is a way of raising our awareness and developing a sense of empathy and inclusion. As Ernesto Che Guevara said,

 

Try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.

 

I am not referring to political ideologies, but to the essence of human beings and the defence of the concept of humanity. It might sound idealistic, but in my opinion the world needs more leaders that can face current challenges by means of a search for common wellbeing.

As Ana has said, Latin America is the region with the greatest inequality in the world, and we face great challenges that are shared with other regions. This is why it is so important that we get involved and take action in this process. So far, I am convinced that I took the best decision, and being surrounded by young people from all over the world that share the same vision has inspired me to continue in this process, with the understanding that we are a community that seeks to be part of the positive change that we long to see in the world.

 

Gloriana Turcios Dobles

 

 

 

 

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