The three day conference had a broad theme for each day. On Sunday the topic was the contribution that cultural diversity can make to development, on Monday building trust and tolerance, and on Tuesday strategies that the Alliance can take to encourage intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation. The Club de Madrid’s Shared Societies Project related to and contributed to each of these themes, and the meeting was an interesting opportunity to share our work on social cohesion, diversity and multiculturalism.
On Monday 12th, the Club de Madrid held a “Labsession” with Members Pastrana (Colombia) and Al Eryani (Yemen) on “The virtuous cycle of social inclusion and economic growth: The Economics of Shared Societies”. The main questions addressed were related to the concept of “shared societies”, the economics of shared societies and how to translate into reality these approaches through policies and actors. The Club de Madrid Members had a lively discussion with a group of people, mainly youth leaders. Attention was given to the fact that youth participating in the Arab Awakening have been marginalised during the transition period in many MENA countries, as well as to how to convince the ruling elite to see as a whole the importance of change. Although this is not easy, opportunities for intercultural dialogue are one way to help the process.
On Tuesday 13th, President Pastrana participated in the Plenary session: ‘New Strategies for Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation’ moderated by HRH Princess Rym Ali (co-founder of Jordan Media Institute), sharing the panel, among others, with Former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos and Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director-General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Morocco. Member Pastrana stressed how, if the voices of minorities are ignored, we will continue having too many examples of where the level of confrontation increases and violence may be the result. However, he recalled also that if these voices are heard, then humanity will have the possibility of creative and innovative solutions.
Research Consultant, Club of Madrid Shared Societies Project Policy and Content Coordinator