Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day of Nowruz
21 March 2020
On this International Day of Nowruz, it is with joy that the entire international community joins the 300 million women, men and children who together welcome the happy arrival of spring and mark the start of the new year.
The festival of Nowruz unites the individuals and peoples of the 12 countries that together nominated the festival for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity to celebrate values of sharing and harmony.
This festival also celebrates the joy of spring and re-emergence of new life, as sung by the poet Hafiz in his collected works, or Dīvān: “Morning breeze, its fragrance will exhale / The old world will once again youthfully sail. / Tulip will bring a red cup to the meadows / Narcissus’ eyes from poppy will grow pale. / When would nightingale put up with such abuse / In the chamber of the rose cry and wail.”
This is the message of the festival of Nowruz, as well as that of Saint Barbara in Lebanon, Saint Joseph in Sardinia and the cults of Osiris in ancient Egypt and Aphrodite in ancient Greece. By bringing germinated seeds and young shoots to the fore, all these festivals celebrate the strength of life springing forth and the fertility of the world.
This is why the festival of Nowruz takes on a very special meaning today for all humankind, in an era of climate change and collapse of biodiversity. Against a backdrop of global population decline and environmental change, we must join forces to preserve the hospitality and beauty of the world.
This means that we must preserve spaces for life to flourish, such as biosphere reserves and UNESCO Global Geoparks, the total area of which is equivalent in size to Australia. This involves understanding how peoples live in harmony with the world, as well as the knowledge rooted in their lands, by working to preserve indigenous languages and knowledge. It entails using environmental education to teach younger generations how to take care of our world.
On this International Day of Nowruz, UNESCO would like to call upon everyone to come together to celebrate and protect the springtime renewal of life.
I wish you all a very happy Nowruz.