New Premises for UNESCO Malta
Minister Stresses UNESCO's Relevance
On opening the Headquarters of the National Commission for UNESCO on Wednesday, Minister Dolores Cristina noted that the Commission needed to upgrade its profile as few people knew of the many exciting and useful projects being undertaken by it. In a recent meeting with the Director General of UNESCO in Paris, Ms Cristina was impressed by the organisation’s extended network worldwide and the good being done. Malta was no exception to this. She said that the National Commission’s programme comprised some activities which were quite ambitious and she hoped that with everyone’s cooperation these would materialise in the public interest.
Before the Minister unveiled the plaque to commemorate the event, guests were addressed by the Commission’s chairman, Professor Henry Frendo, who enumerated an impressive array of realised initiatives, ongoing projects and future plans. These have ranged from international conferences on gender and archives to CDs on leading poets such as Ruzar Briffa and Dun Karm, the Bibliotecha and the President’s Palace in Valletta; printed publications on painters such as Caravaggio and de Brocktorff, and others for different purposes on the Neolithic temples, the Inquisitor’s Palace, the Wignacourt Museum, the National Library and special collections at the University Library. Other forms of particpation were ecological in nature covering flora and the landscape, including an involvement with the Dwejra Heritage Park in Gozo and the Natural Reserve at Is-Simar. Various bodies have been cooperating with the UNESCO National Commission including Nature Trust, the Entomological Society, Friends of the Archives, librarians at the Bibliotecha and the University, the Malta Council for Science and Technology and the National Council of Women.
Professor Frendo announced that UNESCO had just given its support for the campaign against drugs in sport. A 360 degree CD on Sant’Anton Palace in Attard, with proceeds for the Community Chest Fund, was practically ready and he expected it to be launched there early next year. An innovative, ambitious plan for which land had been identified was that of having an open sanctuary featuring elements of still surviving distinct indigenous local fauna. These included the Maltese lizard (il-gremxula ta’ Malta), a native butterfly (il-farfett tal-buzbiez), the otter (il-ballottra), the hedgehog, the ass, the hen and the goat. Professor Frendo regretted that the Maltese ox had been effectively lost already. He said that, however, there was a growing consciousness of the need to protect and conserve natural heritage and open spaces otherwise ‘we would be lost to an urbanised mass of stone and concrete, vechicles and machines, creating a dangerous unbalance between man and nature.’
Unfortunately UNESCO had lost its greatest donor of late, the USA, in the wake of Palestine’s edging towards greater recognition by the UN, but the Commission was confident that with continuing if limited government funding and public-private sponsorship if necessary, it would forge ahead in line with the organisation’s educational, cultural and scientific mission statement, ‘on which humanity’s civilization depended’.
Professor Frendo thanked all those who had been and were active in the Commission since the 1960s and all those who participated in or were currently engaged in its projects and programmes. Describing Mr Albert Rutter, the Commission’s honorary secretary and long-time president of the UNESCO Club, as ‘the veteran of UNESCO in Malta’, Professor Frendo thanked in particular his predecessors who served as presidents of the Commission – Judge A. J. Montanaro Gauci, Professor Salvino Busuttil, and Professor Charles Farrugia.
Guests were then shown spectacular previews on screen of two recent films to which the Commission had been dedicating its efforts - one showing rare close-up Maltese nature scenes featuring among others the rabbit, the viper, the crab; and another on the interior and exterior architectural and artistic features and furnishings of Sant’Anton palace.