Stakeholders have emphasised the role of partnerships in the promotion and protection of shared heritage and values.
The stakeholders spoke at the 42nd general conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), themed ‘Commons’, at the University of Ibadan.
In a keynote address, Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty of the UNESCO HQ, said that humans fight one other, especially with regards to shared natural resources, which cannot be divided.
Chakrabarty, who spoke virtually, cited air, oceans, among others as examples of natural resources that cannot be divided.
He used his homeland as a reference point, explaining the various struggles with space and land that have gone on in the Himalayas and the fight for boundaries that has decimated the ecological space and use of the Himalayas, especially in relation to climate change.
Chakrabarty said his idea of ‘Commons’ is not something that can be touched or felt or possessed, but in the intangibles that contribute to the sustainability of life on the planet. He further said that the lack of humanity to take these things seriously would contribute to an earth that, in about 100 years time, would become unlivable for human beings and animals alike.
“By virtue of this conference, we should begin to turn our minds to the intangible,” he said.
While acknowledging that things have deteriorated badly, he noted that having “this awareness early would contribute to slowing things down in such a way and manner that life could still be sustained on earth for future generations.”
Delivering a paper, titled, ‘Commons, Compromises, and Correctives,’ Professor Senayon Olaoluwa of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, launched into a rousing discussion of the ‘Commons,’ departing first from Chakrabarty’s views of how things are, to how things were.
He invited participants to cast their minds back to how things used to be before the challenges of climate change, conflicts, and wars pervaded “our spaces.”
By using his theory of “Ordinarification” – a model or tool by humans to reduce things that are and should be of importance as if they were nothing, he expressed how humanity have been hindered from identifying “Commons,” which ultimately led to the selfish, self-seeking lifestyle of humans’ pursuit today.
He emphasised what human evolution and activities have done to the environment over time and opined that “the future of our commons must begin with a realisation of the original sense of our commonality, a review of our compromises, and the imperative of correctives to the compromises for the assurance of a just future.”
The co-host of the event and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Planning (RISP), University of Ibadan, Professor Oluyemisi Bamgbose (SAN), in her welcome address, highlighted the importance of intercultural collaborations and the role of partnerships among institutions that seek to encourage cultural aesthetics.
She expressed how the event signifies a togetherness on the protection and promotion of “our shared heritage and values.”
Bamgbose further said that “differing geopolitical issues, climate change, wars, coups, cultural orientations, and digital influences are a few causes for concern.”
Representative of UNESCO and Officer in Charge of Communication and Information Sector, Abuja Office, Ms. Yachat Nuhu, stated that the essence of the conference was to bring together UNESCO member states to deliberate on issues and identify new strategies and areas of collaboration.
“These multiple fractures, divisions and transformations that characterise our world justify the need for us to rethink by bringing stakeholders together to build a world in common,” she said.
Nuhu added that UNESCO decided not to have the conference at the headquarters level alone because they wanted it to have a global impact, stressing that seven countries–Nigeria, India, China, United States, Morocco, Mexico, and Bosnia-Herzegovina– were chosen.
She expressed hope that the time of discussion on the theme would bring about shared platforms for collaborations in the interest of positively changing the “world we live in today.”
Nuhu, who thanked the organising committee for the success of the programme, expressed the need for further collaboration between the two organisations in the interest of humanity and environment, calling for further insight and research on such issues.
Stakeholders from all walks of life, including students, journalists, local communities, campus-based associations and non-governmental organisations and general public attended the event.
Students of University of Ibadan, Dominion University, Dominican University, Kola-Daisi University and Lead City University were invited.
The high point of the event was when the students requested for practical steps to entrench the sense of ‘Commons’ in their immediate communities.