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World Day for Cultural Diversity
for Dialogue and Development
21 May

Cultural Diversity

Why does diversity matter?

Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension.

Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.

Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. This is captured in the seven culture conventions, which provide a solid basis for the promotion of cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development.

At the same time, acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity – in particular through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) – are conducive to dialogue among civilizations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding.

Intercultural Dialogue

Equitable exchange and dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based on mutual understanding and respect and the equal dignity of all cultures is the essential prerequisite for constructing social cohesion, reconciliation among peoples and peace among nations.

This action is part of the global framework of an Alliance of Civilizations launched by the United Nations. More specifically, within the larger framework of intercultural dialogue, which also encompasses interreligious dialogue, special focus is placed on a series of good practices to encourage cultural pluralism at the local, regional and national level as well as regional and sub-regional initiatives aimed at discouraging all expressions of extremism and fanaticism and highlighting values and principles that bring people together.

Interreligious Dialogue

UNESCO’s Interreligious Dialogue programme, an essential component of Intercultural Dialogue, aims to promote dialogue among different religions, spiritual and humanistic traditions in a world where conflicts are increasingly associated with religious belonging.

It stresses the reciprocal interactions and influences between, on the one hand, religions, spiritual and humanistic traditions, and on the other, the need to promote understanding between them in order to challenge ignorance and prejudices and foster mutual respect.

Learning the art of dialogue is both a personal and social process. Developing one’s skills and capacity for dialogue implies a willingness to be open while retaining one’s critical judgment. Dialogue concerns us all: from decision-makers and leaders to individuals within each community. Alongside relevant international conferences to raise awareness, UNESCO strives to promote grass-root activities, particularly in sensitive geo-strategical areas that reach target-populations such as women, youth and marginalized populations.

Culture and Development

Placing culture at the heart of development policy constitutes an essential investment in the world's future and a pre-condition to successful globalization processes that take into account the principles of cultural diversity.

Development is inseparable from culture. In this regard, the major challenge is to convince political decision-makers and local, national and international social actors to integrating the principles of cultural diversity and the values of cultural pluralism into all public policies, mechanisms and practices, particularly through public/private partnerships.

The aim is, on the one hand, to incorporate culture into all development policies, be they related to education, science, communication, health, environment or cultural tourism and, on the other hand, to support the development of the cultural sector through creative industries. By contributing in this way to poverty alleviation, culture offers important benefits in terms of social cohesion.

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