|Rakesh Gupta of 'Routes 2 Roots' from India receiving the IIA|
“We are honored to be amongst the ten organizations that receive the IIA this year”, says Rakesh Gupta, co-founder of Routes 2 Roots. “It’s been our mission to bring together people from different cultures to emphasize their commonalities and enhance peace. Being awarded by prestigious organizations such as UNAOC and the BMW Group further underlines the importance and the relevance of our work.”
Routes 2 Roots was awarded for their unique Student Exchange Program. Children in schools from India and Pakistan connect through written, audio and visual recordings that share history before partition, thereby eliminating misunderstandings about each other’s cultures. This engagement also enables the students to ask each other questions thus discovering common interests. At the end of the year, a trip is organized between partner schools, to see places of historical interest and directly experience the other culture. These children are empowered by experiencing the trust that they have cultivated themselves and amongst each other.
The Intercultural Innovation Award, a partnership between UNAOC and the BMW Group, supports grassroots initiatives that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding, thereby contributing to peace, cultural diversity and more inclusive societies. Close to 1000 applications were received from more than 120 countries, from which ten awardees were selected across five continents. This underlines the award’s importance and commitment to the worldwide promotion of intercultural diversity and understanding.
The award was presented at a dedicated ceremony on 26 April during the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), chaired by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, and Mr. Bill McAndrews, Vice President BMW Group Communications Strategy, Corporate and Market Communications.
“Supporting grassroots organizations that are deeply committed to promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding lies at the core of UNAOC's work,” said H.E. Al-Nasser. “That we are doing this in partnership with BMW Group is further evidence of the innovative approaches we pursue in a world where cultural identities and differences need not divide but unite us.”
“In the past five years, we have enjoyed outstanding results with our approach – the awardees, UNAOC and the BMW Group alike have all benefited from our shared commitment,” said Mr. McAndrews. “In our centenary year, the BMW Group is particularly emphasizing our focus on the future and innovative solutions to the challenges of tomorrow. It is with great pleasure that we, together with UNAOC, foster the development of initiatives that share our pioneering spirit.”
In addition to monetary support, Routes 2 Roots will receive mentoring from UNAOC and BMW Group to help their projects expand and replicate in other contexts. Project support is customized based on the individual needs of award recipients.