Welcome Speech 30th IBBY Congress Macau
Peter Schneck, President of IBBY
Mr. Ho Hau Wah,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear IBBY friends,
As president of IBBY I am proud and happy to extend a warm welcome to you all. It is the first time that the International Board on Books for Young People has organized one of its congresses in China. This is a remarkable event in the history of IBBY and together we celebrate the 20th anniversary of CBBY, the Chinese Board on Books for Young People. Our presence acknowledges IBBY’s commitment to support the work of CBBY and other National Sections in the region, as they continue to promote children’s literature in an area where society is deeply affected by so many economical and technological changes.
We are grateful to the Macau Special Administrative Region for the warm welcome we found here. We appreciate the opportunity to visit China – a land that gave the art of printing to the world, and to be here in Macau, which has for centuries been the main meeting point between the east and the west for peaceful intercultural exchange. We must thank all those who have worked so hard to plan the rich Congress programme and who have succeeded in bringing so many of us together to discuss how IBBY’s mission statement can be the inspiration for contributions for a better world for children.
IBBY’s mission statement challenges its members to find ways to promote international understanding through children's books, to give children everywhere access to books with high literary and artistic standards, to encourage the publication and distribution of quality children's books, to provide support and training for those involved with children and children's literature and to stimulate research and scholarly works in this field.
When Jella Lepman, that extraordinary woman who thought up the idea of IBBY, started her work for children in Germany in 1946, she expressed that an international exchange of high quality children’s books would encourage better understanding between people and thus create a more peaceful world. What did she immediately start to do? She organized an international exhibition on children’s literature, the outcome was the founding of the International Youth Library; she organized a so called Children’s United Nations, the Children’s Forum at this congress is following her lead; she also initiated an international conference of experts, which in turn led to the founding of IBBY. It is clear that dialogues about children’s literature cannot solve all the problems of the world, but the international family of 70 IBBY sections is a good example of respectful collaboration that goes beyond all the diverse opinions and cultural differences.
This is the moment to greet IBBY’s new sections. Since the last congress in Cape Town in 2004 Ecuador, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Rwanda have joined IBBY, I heartly welcome them.
Like Jella Lepman in her time, today we are sadly aware that in our world – war-torn and shaken by natural disasters – there is still neither sufficient international understanding nor equal access to the rights and privileges of the world’s wealth; we also know that the burdens of poverty, insecurity, underdevelopment and illiteracy are not the same for all of us. The aim to give all children of the world access to books with high literary and artistic standards is not fulfilled even in the most developed and prosperous regions of the world.
Children have the right to claim peace and personal assurance for themselves and their families. They have a right to claim physical and intellectual nutrition. To increase literacy we need books for children that are available in homes, in schools, libraries and bookshops; we also need a regionally-based independent system of publishing and we need well-trained parents, teachers, librarians and scholars.
IBBY is ready to join in the very necessary efforts needed to reach these objectives. Children’s Literature and Social Development is the general theme of the Macau Congress. We are convinced that there will be no social development in the future if the children of today are not well educated and literate. Let us make our meeting here successful by identifying the next necessary steps forward, and when we leave for our homes – just do it! This proactive attitude is reflected in the works of the great Chinese leaders, such as Confucius who said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, and Mao Tse Tung who expressed: “If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.”
Let us work together to ensure that there will be books of high quality that are accessible to all the children of the world.