BMW and the UN Spark Intercultural Innovation

Image by Barbara*

In our 2009 book, Imagination First, Eric Liu and I discuss “challenge awards” as catalysts for imaginative thought and action. We especially like challenges that are open-ended and have broad parameters, that not only call for solutions—as those with a narrow, specific purpose do—but invite people to dream up new goals as well. The Award for Intercultural Innovation, announced last week, is just such an expansive challenge. Its sweeping aim: to honor “highly innovative projects that promote exchange and cross-cultural understanding, and hence make a vital contribution to safety and peace in societies around the world.”

The Award for Intercultural Innovation is the product of a unique partnership between the private-sector BMW Group and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). The two organizations signed an agreement on September 23 as part of the 66th UN General Assembly in New York City, before an audience of delegates from over 130 countries.

Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal, and High Representative for UNAOC, explained, “To succeed in bridging our world’s growing divides, we need to launch cutting-edge programs that provide shared solutions to our common problems.” So BMW and the UN “are fostering imagination and creativity to build collaboration among cultures.”

An inaugural award ceremony to recognize the ten most distinguished projects promoting intercultural understanding will be held on December 12 in Doha, Qatar, during the fourth annual UNAOC Forum. In addition to prize money, winners will receive assistance in expanding and improving their projects.

For more information, and to download an application form, visit www.interculturalinnovation.org. Hurry—the deadline for proposals is October 16!

*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

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