Formed in 1945, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has been ensuring basic education for all, anti-racism policies to conserving the Earth’s biodiversity and safeguarding the world’s heritage over the years.
The 38th Session of the UNESCO’s biennial General Conference started on November 03 - 18 in its Paris headquarters. Despite the attacks on the 13th that had left the hosts shaken and devastated, the Leaders’ Forum (16-17 November), marking UNESCO’s 70th anniversary, saw a resounding reaffirmation of solidarity with France through the unprecedented number of Heads of States and Governments who had attended the session.
“Seven decades after its creation, the core idea of UNESCO resounds more powerfully than ever: we can build stronger and more resilient societies through education, the sciences, cultures and the free flow of ideas,” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, in her report to the agency’s 38th session of the General Conference, adding that “these are our ultimate renewable energy sources.”
UNESCO commemorated its 70th anniversary with a dramatic high-tech light show funded by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and orchestrated by Obscura Digital. The “Mosaic of Change” was a projected light show on the façade of UNESCO’s iconic headquarters in Paris, France in which never-before-seen photos and images from the organizations private archives were featured depicting UNESCO’s 70 year journey through thick and thin.
Plans for the projects had to be altered after the events of 13 November. UNESCO announced that Parisians and visitors to the City of Light will no longer be able to view the show up close from the Avenue de Lowendal. Instead, people interested to watch the show, would have to follow it live on the web via the Mosaic of Change website. Moreover, in solidarity with the people of France, several new images were added to the photo rotation in light of the terrorist attacks, and the word "peace" appeared on the side of UNESCO headquarters in all of the UN’s six official languages.
Besides the outdoor light show, an interactive storytelling platform was also unveiled at the headquarters on the 16th, which was also image-based and focused on the organization’s past triumphs and on-going projects around the globe.
The indoor exhibit and the outdoor projection show "utilize art and technology to educate and inform citizens," Eric Falt, a spokesman for UNESCO, said in a statement. Other statements from UNESCO officials at press conferences include: “We face a crucial moment for fostering peace and sustainable development, and it requires all tools at our disposal. In our visual world, a single photo can turn the tide on policy and one great quote can impact perception.”
As the Eiffel tower went dark in mourning, the “Mosaic of Change” in turn illuminated the City of Light as a beacon for peace, in solidarity with the people suffering around the globe due to the aftermaths of war.