30 March 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Creative Economy Report 2010

 


Music, books, fashion, videos, cultural products and other parts of the “creative economy” hold enormous potential for developing countries seeking to diversify their economies, if adequately nurtured, states a United Nations report launched today at a Headquarters press conference.


“Creativity and talent are powerful drivers of inclusive, sustainable development,” Rebeca Grynspan, Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said, as she helped introduce the multi-agency report entitled “Creative Economy Report 2010”, which she said surveyed the sector worldwide over the past decade and offered policy options for fostering it for the benefit of all countries, but especially the poorest.


Joining Ms. Grynspan were Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya, which holds the presidency of the General Assembly’s High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation; Yiping Zhou, Director of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of UNDP; Edna dos Santos, Chief of the Creative Economy and Industries Programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); and Francisco Simplício, Chief of the Knowledge Management Unit of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of UNDP.


The panellists underlined the cross-system cooperation that created the report, which was co-produced by UNCTAD and the South-South unit of UNDP with the integral participation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).


According to the report, the creative economy more than doubled between 2002 and 2008, with a yearly growth rate during that period averaging 14 per cent.  Exports of creative goods from developing countries reached 43 per cent of the total creative-industry trade in 2008.


Ms. Grynspan said that, when work on the sector first started, the subject seemed esoteric, but all the agencies sensed it was important from a development point of view.  Poor countries often had great intangible assets that could be made economically viable and engage women, unemployed youth and diverse cultural groups.


The sector, she added, was also resilient in the face of the global economic downturn in the recent crises, increasing while other sectors declined.  In Africa, diversification of the economy was a key element.  She emphasized that much of creative trade was already between developing countries, but that not all developing countries participated in that trade.


Ms. Dos Santos divided the sector into components of Heritage, which included crafts and celebrations such as Carnival; Arts, visual, as well as performing; Media, printed, as well as audio-visual; and Design and Services, which included architecture, advertising and digital activities.


Public policies to encourage the sector, she said, involved putting in place a “creative nexus” that included infrastructure, trade, institutions, financing, regulatory environments, and the facilitation of public/private partnerships, as well as the encouragement of continuous learning and innovation.  There was a large role for the United Nations system in encouraging such frameworks; and trade talks were also an important element.


She said that the key drivers of the sector included new technology, particularly digital media and the Internet, as well as social networking, which was fostering the development of new modes of dissemination, creation and the sharing of ideas.


Ms. Ojiambo said that a critical milestone was reached since the first such report in 2008, with the growing commitment of countries and the United Nations to leverage the creative economy.  In Kenya, she had seen first-hand the potential of creativity at the city level, describing “Riverwood”, Kenya’s Hollywood.  The sector, she stressed, encouraged innovative solutions that were both collaborative and inclusive.


The report’s market analysis and evidenced-based approach, she said, made it suitable for the consideration of solutions to challenges faced by the sector, allowing Governments to come up with the bold strategies needed including proper support mechanisms, the necessary regulatory framework, and greater South-South trade, all of which could be assisted by the international community.


In response to questions, Mr. Simplício said that the magnitude of the creative economy could not be accurately represented across all countries, because of a dearth of data and different ideas in various countries concerning the activities that fit into the creative sector.  Trade figures were currently more useful, but the agencies were working on improving the data quality across the sector.


Ms. Ojiambo stressed that the concept and classification should be universal, while fitting in the diverse activities of each country.  She said that a growing number of countries were using the category of creative economy, even including it in their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers.  In that context, she mentioned Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal in Africa, Thailand and China in Asia, as well as a number of countries in Latin America.  It was also a top priority in the European Agenda 2020 and planning for developed countries.


Ms. Dos Santos added that the category of creative economy was gaining in acceptance in civil society, academia and associations of performing arts, helping the latter get across their message that the sector was important.  She said that the least developed countries were very much in mind in the creation of the report and more on them would be introduced at the upcoming conference in Istanbul, Turkey.


In conclusion, Mr. Zhou said that report documented an evolution from thinking that cultural and other creative activities were mere self-entertainment to trying to understand how the international community could help those who possessed such intangible assets to turn them into tangible wealth.  He hoped the report could help Governments and the United Nations deal with the challenges.


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