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Business Has Important Role in Bridging Cultural Divides

(New York, 7 April 2009) – The second Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations took place in Istanbul on 6-7 April 2009. The Forum sought to address tensions and divides across cultures and religions, and to examine the broader challenges of good governance of cultural diversity in an age of globalization. A powerful network of global leaders, heads of international organizations, corporations, the media, civil society and youth groups gathered at the Forum to forge partnerships to build interaction between diverse communities and strengthen trust and reconciliation across cultures.

In UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's address, he emphasized the role of business in this agenda, stating: " Bridging divides helps keep the peace. It also gives the economy a boost by making societies more stable for investors. That is why the Alliance is working with the United Nations Global Compact to help corporations foster tolerance. Businesses know that, in today's globalized world, they have to be able to compete in multicultural environments."

The UN Global Compact Office co-organized a working session at the Forum entitled “Doing Business in a Multicultural World”, with over 60 participants from business, civil society and academia, to examine the role of the private sector in promoting cross-cultural understanding. Participants discussed the specific actions companies can take, both individually and collectively, to make a contribution to fostering cross-cultural understanding and tolerance. Participants also shared successful initiatives and lessons learned that can be useful to others, especially in the context of the current economic crisis. The session helped to stimulate new ideas for collaboration among all stakeholders in this area.

“Doing Business in a Multicultural World: Challenges and Opportunities”, a joint UN Alliance of Civilizations-UN Global Compact publication, was also launched at the Forum. The publication helps companies to address cross-cultural issues and explore how they can facilitate intercultural understanding in ways that benefit both business and society.

The Alliance of Civilazations Forum was hosted by the government of Turkey and featured the participation of His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey; His Excellency José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President of Spain; President Jorge Sampaio, the UN Secretary-General’s High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations; and a host of other political leaders.



Melissa Powell
Head, Strategy and Partnerships
UN Global Compact