General Assembly President, Secretary-General in Attendance as Speakers Urge Integration of Cultural Traditions into Post-2015 Development Framework

12 June 2013

General Assembly President, Secretary-General in Attendance as Speakers Urge Integration of Cultural Traditions into Post-2015 Development Framework

12 June 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

High-level Thematic Debate

AM & PM Meetings

General Assembly President, Secretary-General in Attendance as Speakers Urge

Integration of Cultural Traditions into Post-2015 Development Framework


Director-General of UNESCO Says Agency’s

Programmes Reveal Culture’s Vital Role in Ensuring Sustainability

Rather than letting cultural differences create divisions, the international community now had the opportunity to integrate cultural traditions into a post-2015 development agenda that would bolster human rights and spur economic growth, speakers said today as the General Assembly held its High-level Thematic Debate on Culture and Development.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon told the one-day meeting, organized in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), that the past decade of working towards the Millennium Development Goals had clearly demonstrated that cultural traditions must be woven fully into development strategies.  “In this globalized world, let us defend with the same intensity the diversity that enriches us and the universal human rights that bind us,” he said.

General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić ( Serbia) opened the debate by urging all Member States to make the post-2015 development agenda their top priority.  Its full implementation would help draw cultures closer together and make them more secure as they observed mutual respect to reach agreement.  Cultural interaction was about dialogue, first and foremost, he emphasized, adding that the ability to share thoughts in an orderly and meaningful way opened possibilities for diverse communities to achieve concord on the basis of mutual respect, a basic tenet of the post-2015 development agenda and of the United Nations Charter.

Noting that the word “culture” derived from agriculture, he said that it previously signified caring for the earth and improving it through human ingenuity and responsible stewardship.  Today, the word referred chiefly to the sum of a community’s intellectual and artistic achievements.  It was a symbolic bridge maintaining continuity between the past, present and future.  Striving for material prosperity must be informed by respect for traditions, he stressed.  “Intercultural dialogue conducted within the framework of the post-2015 agenda represents […] the surest way to guard against the erasing hand of uniformity, which some fear could be a consequence of globalization.”

UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova said that culture’s contribution to development had not been fully recognized during the design and adoption of the Millennium Development Goals.  Since 2006, UNESCO and other sister agencies, particularly the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had carried out 18 joint large-scale programmes as part of the Millennium Development Goals Fund, she said, adding that the programmes revealed culture’s vital role in achieving sustainability.  The UNESCO Culture for Development Indicator Suite was the first international initiative aimed at providing statistics that measured culture’s contribution to the development processes, and it was being implemented in 13 countries, she said.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, said the global economic crisis had expanded culture’s role in development policy.  The major historical and political transformations sweeping the Middle East, Asia and other regions showed that Governments needed new strategies for growth.  Investing in cultural and creative industries was an excellent way to revitalize economies, he said.

UNDP’s Administrator, Helen Clark, added that the film industry, performing and visual arts, new media, branding design and other cultural activities produced sustainable economic growth and jobs.

During the debate’s high-level segment, Government Ministers from around the world discussed the unlimited potential of cultural activities and products to boost economic growth in developing countries while healing divisions among people of various races, religions and ethnic groups.

Jamaica’s Minister for Youth and Culture described the healing power of her country’s music and its use as a tool for social change.  Culture transcended all boundaries and united all people to seek human rights, an integral part of the Millennium Goals, she said.

El Salvador’s Secretary for Culture said her country’s “Long Live Culture” programme had enabled more than 100,000 people to enjoy cultural-heritage sites previously closed because of budget constraints.  Arts programmes for youth orchestras and choirs had helped prevent violence among young people, she added.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh said culture had been integral to the South Asian nation’s birth.  Its aspiration to self-determination had been inspired by a cultural movement that had gradually evolved into a political struggle for autonomy and independence, she said.

South Africa’s Minister for Arts and Culture said the creative and cultural industries were the “new gold” of economies around the world, adding that his country’s local music industry had reached $200 million in sales during 2011, while the craft sector had contributed $300 million to gross domestic product in 2010.  It employed more than 200,000 people, he noted.

The day-long event also included two interactive panel discussions, the first on “The nexus between culture and development”, and the second titled “What role for culture in the post-2015 framework?”

Other speakers today included Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, as well as Ministers and other senior officials from Cape Verde, Morocco, Benin, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Philippines, Brazil, Spain and Argentina.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 13 June.


The General Assembly met this morning to hold a High-level Thematic Debate on Culture and Development, convened in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  It was expected to consider culture as both an enabler and driver of development.  Delegates had before them a concept note contained in a letter dated 19 April 2013 from the President of the General Assembly.

Opening Remarks

VUK JEREMIĆ (Serbia), President of the General Assembly, said people were at the centre of sustainable development, and all cultures and civilizations had contributions to make.  Thus, all communities and individuals must be able to practise their own cultures and enjoy those of others without fear.  Calling urgently upon Member States to make the post-2015 development agenda their utmost priority, he said its full implementation could help draw cultures closer together and make them more secure.

Cultural interaction was about dialogue, first and foremost, he emphasized, adding that the ability to share thoughts in an orderly and meaningful way opened possibilities for diverse communities to achieve concord on the basis of mutual respect, a basic tenet of the post-2015 development agenda and of the United Nations Charter.  The word “culture” derived from agriculture, he said, noting that it signified caring for the earth and improving it through human ingenuity and responsible stewardship.

Today, the word referred chiefly to the sum of a community’s intellectual and artistic achievements, he continued.  It was a symbolic bridge maintaining continuity between the past, present and future.  Striving for material prosperity must be informed by respect for traditions, he continued.  “Intercultural dialogue conducted within the framework of the post-2015 agenda represents […] the surest way to guard against the erasing hand of uniformity, which some fear could be a consequence of globalization.”  Quoting 1961 Nobel Laureate Ivo Andric, he said nothing that man erected or built in his “urge for living” was more valuable than bridges, which attached and bound peoples, cultures, and nations.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that less than 1,000 days remained to the Millennium Development Goals target date.  Lessons learned from efforts to realize the Goals taught that culture must be an overarching principle, and that there was no one-size-fits-all formula for development.  Rather, cultural traditions must be taken into account.  Full ownership of development strategies demanded the full integration of culture, he said, emphasizing that culture, heritage and religion must no longer be used to divide, sow conflict or perpetuate injustice.

That meant ending practices such as female genital mutilation, early marriage and keeping girls out of school, and refuting discrimination and intimidation based on belief, appearance or whom one loved, he continued.  “More than ever, we need societies built on inclusion, understanding and mutual respect.”  That was the message and aim of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and of UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.  “Achieving our shared development goals means working across lines of identity and embracing our common humanity,” he said in closing.  “In this globalized world, let us defend with the same intensity the diversity that enriches us and the universal human rights that bind us.”

Keynote Address

IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the international community must fully acknowledge the power of culture as it shaped a new post-2015 global agenda.  Culture’s contribution to development had not been fully recognized during the design and adoption of the Millennium Development Goals agenda, but since 2006, UNESCO and other sister agencies, particularly the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had implemented 18 large-scale joint programmes, as part of the Millennium Development Goals Fund, that had shown culture’s vital role as an enabler of sustainability.

She thanked Spain for financing the innovative Fund, amounting to about $100 million, the first such large-scale initiative to lay out the contribution of culture in accelerating national progress towards attaining the Goals.  It covered areas ranging from cultural industries, through cultural tourism to tangible and intangible heritage as well as social inclusion, she said, laying out the results in specific countries and noting that 11 national laws had been developed to improve cultural legislation and protect tangible and intangible heritage while promoting creative industries.

The UNESCO Culture for Development Indicator Suite was the first-ever international initiative aimed at providing statistics on culture in development processes, she said, adding that it was being implemented in 13 countries.  Culture was now mentioned in 70 per cent of United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks.  Today’s debate was an ideal way to ensure the integration of culture into the emerging new global economy.  Cultural activities were not only merchandise, they represented the life of a people, she said, emphasizing that they were a central part of human rights.

Video Message

MICHAEL D. HIGGINS, President of Ireland, said via video link that culture must be a part of sustainable and human development as the international community developed the post-2015 development framework.  Cultural development provided greater space for sustainable and social development.  It was also an important part of international progress in examining the Millennium Development Goals.  Cultural minorities were experiencing increased poverty around the world, he said, noting that a culturally sensitive approach would enable the international community to build more stable and inclusive societies.  It would foster sensitivity and understanding, while contributing to peace and stability around the world.  It could contribute to social inclusion, jobs, trade and sustainable development, he said.

Remarks by Special Guests

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, said the power of cultural diversity had been recognized since 2000, and the outcome document from that year’s Millennium Summit emphasized the importance of culture for development and its contribution to attainment of the Goals.  Art and other forms of collective expression of human values played an important role in fostering a culture of peace, he stressed, pledging to restructure the Alliance and strengthen its financial resources in order to expand its ability to play a larger role in interacting with the United Nations system in pursuit of the Goals.

The global economic crisis had accelerated the rise of culture in development policies, and major historical and political transformations were sweeping through the Middle East, Asia and beyond.  Governments must rethink their strategies for growth and pinpoint new sources of vitality, he emphasized.  That would bring culture to the fore in international priorities because investing in culture and creative industries was an excellent way to revitalize economies.  Respect for cultural diversity could also help prevent conflicts and protect the rights of marginalized groups and among nations.

HELEN CLARK, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said economic benefits flowed from dynamic cultural sectors in the form of jobs and sustainable growth generated by such activities as tourism, the screen industry, performing and visual arts, new media and branding design.  More broadly, culture was a vital aspect of human development, enabling people to define who they were.  In an ever more interconnected world, “o ur respect for cultural diversity needs to grow”, she said, adding that respect for cultural diversity and sustainable development were mutually reinforcing.

UNDP was a co-publisher of “Creative Economy Reports”.  She said this year’s edition, to be published in September under the co-lead of UNDP and UNESCO, would look at initiatives supported by the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund and the UNESCO International Fund for Culture and Diversity, which should help policymakers boost national creative sectors.  The Fund had supported innovative culture and development programmes in 18 countries and territories in recent years, she said, citing sustainable tourism programmes, including disaster risk mitigation for historic sites, and those promoting green jobs and inclusive sustainable growth.

High-level Segment

MARIO LUCIO MATIAS DE SOUSA MENDES, Minister for Culture of Cape Verde, emphasized that development must go hand-in-hand with culture or it would fail.  Culture was about to take its rightful place on the world stage, he said, adding that it was a time for the “immaterial”, in which all nations were equal.  Economies based on the immaterial were creative economies.  Culture allowed for an integrated vision of development, working with agriculture, fisheries, youth, diplomacy, religion, diasporas and in other areas.  Culture was one of the five pillars of development in Cape Verde, which had been invited to present its programmes to the World Trade Organization and in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also taken an interest, he said.

LISA HANNA, Minister for Youth and Culture of Jamaica, said culture was a very timely question as the international community faced a range of complex issues that could destroy the fabric of development.  The world faced persistent poverty, unemployment, exploitation of natural resources, climate change and tensions within and between countries.  Culture was a strategic issue and must be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, he said, recalling that his country had negotiated its independence through its culture.  Jamaica’s music had become known globally as a tool for social mobilization and in many instances was a call to action, sometimes a defiant one.  Culture transcended all boundaries and united all people in the pursuit of human rights, and it could foster economic development, he said, adding that Jamaica was ready to develop cultural industries as a tool for fostering growth.

MOHAMED AMINE SBIHI, Minister for Culture of Morocco, said United Nations meetings on culture were important as they helped to raise global awareness of culture’s role in development, and of the need to protect the global heritage.  They also highlighted how cultural industries could help national economies, particularly in developing countries, he said, emphasizing that they must be integrated into such areas as employment and health, among others.  Morocco was integrating culture into various national programmes, such as sports initiatives and programmes for artists.  Literature, dance, fine arts and music had great potential to develop creative industries and make economic contributions.  Morocco had developed a national cultural strategy and would continue its efforts, he said, stressing culture’s ability to help foster peace and understanding in the world.

ALASSANE DJIMBA SOUMANOU, Minister for Secondary Education, Technical and Vocational Training, and Youth and Integration of Benin, said culture could provide solutions to modern challenges as it celebrated the successes and failures of peoples and countries.  Culture came from human beings and was a way to recognize differences as the world moved ahead.  Development could only be viable if it took account of the cultural differences among peoples.  In Benin, for example, cultural diversities were recognized by letting students read and write in the national language.  A country that paid no attention to culture could not enjoy sustainable development, he warned.  Culture lived through human beings, and development was based on exchanges between human beings, he said, underlining that development strategies must take that into account.  Culture was not merely a celebration of the past, but must be firmly rooted in today’s realities as well as in modernism and the today’s world.

FRANK ANTHONY, Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports of Guyana, said culture embodied the diverse ways in which people responded to, reflected upon and expressed their continuing life experiences.  Yet efforts to measure and quantify its contributions were often viewed with scepticism.  Climate change had also been viewed sceptically, but research had led to action.  To create a paradigm shift as in the case of climate change, he proposed, a group of experts should be established to develop a global cultural index, with subsidiary regional and national indices.  It should enable comparisons among countries and include a comprehensive set of indicators to measure the full spectrum of culture.  Such a tool could track cultural changes around the world, and help to leverage global resources to empower local communities to harness and harvest their cultural products in a sustainable way.  He underscored the need to build capacity so as to harness the economic power of culture, especially in regions with few other resources, while also emphasizing the power of culture to promote social cohesion in multi-ethnic societies.

LINCOLN DOUGLAS, Minister for the Arts and Multiculturalism of Trinidad and Tobago, associated himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, saying that development encompassed the social and spiritual behaviours that defined nations’ way of life.  Thus, culture was the key component of sustainable development.  Trinidad and Tobago was a rich melange of cultures that had resulted in a unique cultural dynamism.  In recognition of the fundamental link between culture and development, it had undertaken an important initiative in the form of a policy framework to create an environment in which diverse cultures could exist side by side and create a national identity.  It also sought to establish baseline cultural measurements, and had created a heritage database with a view to engaging the population in discourse.  Noting the difficulty of ensuring international markets for cultural products and creating the necessary infrastructure, he said the cultural industry was able to engage the most people at the lowest cost for the highest returns.

PAUL MASHATILE, Minister for Arts and Culture of South Africa, said the debate was a continuation of the work started by the United Nations in 2010, of placing culture at the centre of development.  It was also taking place a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, predecessor of the African Union.  The Government of South Africa had approved the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance for ratification by Parliament, he said, adding that it would strengthen efforts for African unity and solidarity.  The creative and cultural industries were the “new gold” of the economies around the world as they contributed to nation-building, social cohesion and national healing.  In order to maximize their role in African society, South Africa had included such industries under its Industrial Policy Action Plan and its National Development Plan:  Vision 2030.  The local music industry had been valued at $200 million in sales in 2011, while the craft sector had contributed $300 million to gross domestic product in 2010, and employed more than 200,000 people.  The visual arts sector had an annual turnover of nearly $200 million.  Those numbers would significantly increase in the future, he said.

DIPU MONI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said culture had been integral to her country’s birth as a nation.  Its aspiration to self-determination had been inspired by a cultural movement that had gradually evolved into a political struggle for autonomy and independence.  The Government had espoused a multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural identity as the defining feature of its nationhood.  Harmony in diversity was the guiding force of its secular, democratic polity.  In line with national policy, she said, Bangladesh advocated a culture of peace and non-violence in the community of nations, and its commitment was displayed through its role as a top contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations.  One vital area of foreign policy was the promotion of greater cultural awareness and sensitivity to the rights of migrant workers and their families, she said.  Xenophobic mindsets could often cloud judgement about the potential of migrant workers to act as development workers for origin and destination countries sending and receiving migrant workers.  Bangladesh would welcome constructive suggestions on the possibility of creating an integrated development goal relating to culture, which must be considered a cross-cutting issue spanning the entire sustainable development agenda.

ANA MAGDALENA GRANADINO, Secretary for Culture in the Presidency of El Salvador, said culture could “unite us and make us better global citizens”.  All that was needed was the political will and the dedication of those working in the field of culture and the arts.  El Salvador’s “Long Live Culture” programme had enabled more than 100,000 people to enjoy cultural-heritage areas that had previously been closed to the public and lacked a budget.  The Government had built social capital, generated income for artisans and those selling traditional foods, and for artists with no other outlets for their work.  El Salvador had also designed a cultural management model, she said, offering to make it available to all interested Member States.  She also described arts programmes for youth orchestras and choirs, saying that participation by young people extended to their homes and prevented youth violence.  However, public policies and monies were needed to sustain such programmes, she said, noting in closing that culture and education were powerful allies to “make our countries better places to live”.

GRACIELA BARTOLOZZI, Minister for Culture of Paraguay, said the major challenge was to prevent the growing universality of globalization from undermining diversity.  “We all represent a part of the rich pluralistic heritage of the world,” she said.  International cooperation was needed to resolve economic problems and promote human rights.  To do so, it would be necessary to recognize the right of every community to its own identity and to the fundamental freedoms that would promote democracy in accordance with UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.  It was crucial to ensure that peoples took ownership of their own collective heritage as a key instrument for development, and that they participated in discussion on sustainable development.  “Mass medialization”, lack of access to education in their own languages and other issues denied many communities an environment conducive to continuing their way of life, she said.

FELIPE M. DE LEON, JR., Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines, said many Governments, including his own, frequently ignored or neglected culture in their socioeconomic planning.  Culture’s enormous economic impact was a reality that many people, particularly technocrats and politicians, did not see.  Yet it was a system of vital ideas that contained, energized and directed virtually every aspect of social life, while touching many areas, from the humanities to the sciences and technology.  The idea of development emanating from the strengths of each culture and the unique features of each ecosystem was at odds with the dominant “universalist” thinking, yet there was no universal path to development and each society had to find its own strategy.  Developing countries should not look to the models of the developed world, he said, cautioning that Western models did not integrate local traditions.  It was not difficult to find examples of inappropriate development, he added.

AMERICO CORDULA, Secretary for Public Policies in the Ministry of Culture of Brazil, said his country had made the eradication of poverty a priority over the past decade as it worked to create sustained growth for more of its citizens.  Yet that economic growth had generated challenges in areas like energy and sustainable development, as more consumers consumed more goods.  To increase access to culture for low-income Brazilians, the Government would begin a programme called “Vale Cultura” next month, he said.  It would offer a $25 monthly credit to workers who met a specific economic standard.  That credit could be used to buy books and musical instruments, or to attend cultural activities, such as movies and museums.  Brazil was working to promote cultural diversity in a nation of many peoples and ethnic groups, and to recover the ancestral knowledge of its indigenous peoples.  Culture should be a pillar of development and help promote the good life for citizens so as to enrich State stability.  Cultural tourism was an important contribution to development and economic growth.  Citing his country’s hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, he said Brazil was getting ready to welcome the world.

ITZIAR TABOADA, Director of Cultural and Scientific Relations, Agency for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, said that culture’s contribution to economic growth was becoming better quantified, with growth indicators in the cultural industry exceeding those in many other areas.  Culture played an important role in the Millennium Development Goals Fund, which Spain had financed.  The Fund had undertaken efforts in some 50 countries, investing about $96 million in the cultural programmes of 18 countries.  Its programmes could be summarized as support for building capacity in the cultural sector, in heritage sites and in tourism.  The Fund had also scaled up investments in cultural goods, she said, singling out a new cultural information system established in Latin America.

MONICA GUARIGLIO, National Director for Cultural Policy and International Cooperation of Argentina, said it was time to change the perception that culture was a forum exclusively for elites.  A more proactive approach by Governments would help broaden the development agenda.  The Government of Argentina was working to create cultural infrastructure and greater cultural production, she said, adding that culture was a universal human right.  The Government had created the National Equality Plan, which aimed to provide greater public access to cultural goods, cultural information and the arts.  Cultural production also supported the economy and contributed 3.8 per cent to gross domestic product by boosting employment and directly creating 200,000 jobs, in addition to another 200,000 created indirectly.  Cultural activities and production could also help regional integration, she said.

The Assembly then held two panel discussions, the first on “The nexus between culture and development”, and the second titled “What role for culture in the post-2015 framework?”

Panel Discussion I

Moderated by Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s Under-Secretary-General for Culture, the discussion featured the following panellists:  Miri Ben-Ari, Grammy Award-winning violinist and Goodwill Ambassador of Music, United Nations Association of Brazil; Wang Linxu, artist and Vice-President, Central University for Nationalities of Beijing; Anthony Tommasini, Chief Music Critic, The New York Times; Thomas Campbell, Director, Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Ivan Tasovac, Director, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr. BANDARIN said everyone recognized the importance of culture as a factor in mutual recognition and dialogue which embraced the diversity of humanity.  There were two areas of fundamental importance:  the preservation and conservation of heritage in all its forms; and the creative force of culture in service to development and the creative economy.  UNESCO would be presenting a report on the creative economy to the Economic and Social Council in July, he said.

Mr. CAMPBELL, describing the Metropolitan as one of the world’s largest encyclopaedic museums, said it had been established following the Civil War in the United States, a time of turmoil in the streets, with the thought that it might help to calm the situation.  Today, the Museum demonstrated the success of the combined model of support from the private and public sectors.  It was now New York City’s primary tourist attraction, and with the development of the Internet, it now reached well beyond its 6.3 million visitors, he said, adding that it had also 50 million visitors to its website.  Increasingly, the Museum was working with partners around the globe, and had become a nexus, involved with peer institutions worldwide.  He said that in his travels, he had seen how such institutions provided cultural identity, and also how well-run cultural institutions generated jobs and brought in local people and tourists.

Mr. TASOVAC said it was important for cultural institutions to encourage people not to fear culture, declaring:  “The entire world is our birthplace.”  A world without culture would be unimaginable.  The encrypted language of art contained a code that eliminated misunderstanding, distrust and intolerance, thus suppressing ignorance and estrangement.  Developing partnerships was a sure way to ensure sustainable development, he said.  Culture did not take sides; it permeated all relationships, spoke all languages and respected differences.  It was a constant that strengthened and changed individuals, he said.  It relieved stress in individuals, enhancing their capacity to understand and enjoy the cultures of others while ensuring progress.  Thus, culture itself became a goal and an irreplaceable engine of development, unlimited in space and time, he said.  It became everyone’s property without belonging to anyone.

Ms. BEN-ARI said culture played a big role in every social development.  If social development must be all-inclusive, culture provided one of the best opportunities to provide opportunities, especially for women and young people.  It provided a chance at empowerment and could lead to political engagement.  Female artists expressing themselves, for example, could show women’s leadership.  Describing how she had come to play the violin, she recounted the instrument’s role in her Jewish heritage.  Culture promoted diversity and respect, she added, noting that sometimes it was the only way for people from different cultures to understand one another.  Having worked with musicians and artists from around the world, it was a privilege to get to know different musical genres, she said.

Mr. WANG said development and innovation was now closely associated with the development of technologies that had “turned the world into a small village”.  Culture served as an inspiration and driving force for development, and only when economic development reflected deeper and richer culture could it be sustained.  Turning to his own traditional water and ink paintings, he said he had created a new style called “transcendental imagery”, inspired by the traditional Chinese care and love for nature.  By transcending images, people could set their will and artistic spirit free, he said, adding that “transcendental imagery” aimed to move across traditional Chinese and Western styles and to adapt to the “art of our times”, while preserving the artistic values of tradition.  The ideological paradigms of nations must be transcended in order for the convergence of cultures to occur, he said.

Mr. TOMMASINI, noting that there was a real lack of music education, said that when it was done right, it could shake up the whole classical world.  He mentioned El Sistema, a music programme founded by Jose Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan musician and economist who described it as “social action for music” because he saw it as a force for social change.  All over Venezuela, 70 to 90 per cent of the children involved in the programme were from poor families, he said, adding that El Sistema was easily transferrable to any other country or economic system.  As a result, music projects had been cropping up in other parts of the world, including “OrchKids”, a programme for children in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States.  Founded by Marin Alsop, the first woman conductor of a major orchestra, it not only taught music, but tolerance and respect for others as well, because one could not play in an orchestra without them.

Interactive Dialogue

A representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said culture’s importance was increasing in relation to development, and it was important to discuss how each country could implement a plan on culture and development so as to enhance overall development.  It was important to:  raise public awareness of cultural diversity as it related to sustainable development; build cultural capacity and markets for cultural goods and services; foster synergies between traditional approaches and modern science and technology; and look at traditional ways of conserving and using resources.

A representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said he supported measures to safeguard and recover the traditional knowledge and wisdom of indigenous Latin America and Caribbean peoples, Afro-descendant communities and those of other geographical origin, which all formed part of the region’s Latin American and Caribbean identities, while protecting those groups from discrimination or arbitrary actions taken against them.  The Community supported all efforts to ensure that culture was among the key issues taken into account in working to define the sustainable development goals and elaborating the post-2015 development agenda.

A representative of the European Union said cultural dynamism created communication and social inclusion.  Furthermore, culture and the creative industries promoted economic development through heritage and cultural tourism, but also through environmental planning, among other ways.

Several speakers emphasized the importance of mainstreaming culture into development efforts, describing it as the engine of many development processes.  The representative of Costa Rica said the relationship between culture and sustainable development should be considered from two perspectives:  culture as context, and culture as creative generation.  Culture as an environment had a great deal to do with traditions, but also with tolerance.  Through culture as a context, it was important to recognize the risks when cultural traditions were used to promote discrimination, and instead to use openness as a means to create tolerance.  The contributions of creative generation were more tangible, as they appeared through the cultural industry.

The representative of Turkey noted that the Western establishment tended to ignore major cultural events in other countries, such as the Istanbul Music and Cinema Festivals, saying it was necessary to recognize those contributions.

The representative of Egypt described several cultural projects in his country, including a 74-acre park that had become a catalyst for urban renewal, providing hundreds of young men with work and revitalizing the entire area.

A representative of the International Theatre Institute of the Philippines, an entity associated with UNESCO, said that a relevant and tradition-based application of culture accelerated developments plans.  She suggested the formation of “UNESCO Artists for Peace”, who could create productions together in areas of conflict to generate dialogue.  She also proposed the annual selection of a global capital for the arts.

Also participating in the dialogue were representatives of Jordan and United Citizens of Local Government.

Ms. BEN-ARI responded by inviting everyone to take inspiration from programmes they had heard about today, and to seek UNESCO’s help to replicate them.

Mr. CAMPBELL cautioned that cultural heritage was fragile and must be protected as it provided the key to recovery from conflict.

Mr. WANG said cultural innovation was important because of culture’s power to move world economies.

Panel Discussion II

Mr. Bandarin also moderated the second panel discussion, titled “What role for culture in the post-2015 framework?”, which also featured panellists Amina Mohammed, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning; Alfons Martinell Sempere, Director, UNESCO Chair on Cultural Policies and Cooperation, Girona University, Spain; Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and Director, Humanities Centre, Harvard University; Sergio Raul Arroyo Garcia, Director, National Institute for Anthropology and History, Mexico; and Ahmed Hajji, Chief Executive, Agency for the Promotion and Economic and Social Development of the Southern Provinces of Morocco.

Mr. BHABHA opened the discussion by stating that the traditional rights of citizens must be supplemented by a cultural component, pointing out that beyond being citizens, people were also “cultural citizens”.  The common conception of progress was generally linear, data-driven and often measured in terms of what was new, he said, noting that tradition and heritage were often short-changed because they seemed to belong in the past.  However, the cultural perspective examined progress and development through the lens of cultural values.  In that context, how could a sustainable world be created if the free flow of ideas was restricted?  There was a staggering disjuncture in the very production of scholarly materials, with developing countries producing significantly less than the developed world, he said.  Integrating cultural imperatives into the very body of sustainable development would help humanity to be more pragmatic.

Mr. ARROYO said the first prerequisite in addressing cultural heritage was to acknowledge its dynamism, adding that cultural heritage was not static but in flux.  Archaeologists in Mexico had decoded layer upon layer of history, revealing the rise and fall of dynasties.  Development was linked to such rises and falls, he said.  Explaining why culture and development did not always progress in tandem, he said culture’s local nature sometimes gave rise to unresolved debates.  Moreover, development was not a “one-way street”, and could not be seen as homogenous.  Singling out a number of imperatives for improving the standing of both culture and development, he stressed the need to develop an understanding of cultural development that was not unidirectional; to forge a vision of cultural heritage linked to the production of local knowledge; to see cultural development as a broad process transcending national frontiers; to pay attention to the cultural production of communities living in extreme poverty; and to break down the anachronism of a system based on the provision of aid, and instead empowering the base of cultural production.

Mr. HAJJI said the valuable Maghreb contributed much to his country’s cultural wealth.  Its people had demonstrated their ability to use and maintain their sciences and nomadic traditions.  It was a region of convergences, he said, describing many programmes and initiatives ‑ including those undertaken in partnership with UNDP and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), among others ‑ in the region.  He said that for a long time his agency had focused solely on infrastructure development, but now it was working on lasting human development throughout the region.  Today, the Maghreb had become an important centre in Saharan Morocco, and a major centre for sports and cultural events.

Ms. MOHAMMED said the post-2015 framework would certainly carry forward many unfinished mandates from the Millennium Development Goals.  So far, it was clear that there was a call not to leave culture behind or to view it as an “add-on”.  Going forward, development must be truly people-centred, and must integrate local and traditional skills instead of marginalizing them, she said.  It was critical to consider how not to leave culture in a “silo”, she added, stressing the need to move away from singular goals or targets.  Culture was really a fabric in which other stitches could fit, she said.  The last nine months had been a period of intense outreach aimed at incorporating multiple points of view into the Secretary-General’s report to Member States on the post-2015 development agenda.  She said that agenda must address five transformational shifts:  the diversity of constituents should not be seen as a burden but as richness; there should be a paradigm shift from the poverty agenda to a balance between people and planet; there should be an economic transformation from depending exclusively on official development assistance (ODA) to forging additional partnerships; Government agendas must move past struggles over basic rights and peacebuilding; and champions must be clearer on how to embed culture in the next development agenda.

Mr. MARTINELL said that, since the dawn of multilateral initiatives, there had been a lengthy history of debates on culture and development, but the dialogue between the two had changed, as had the perspectives of Governments and citizens.  The Millennium Development Goals had been a landmark of multilateral awareness, in that they recognized the need to harness other elements of development.  Culture had direct and indirect, tangible and intangible impacts, he said, adding that the Goals had borne fruit in the cultural arena, even if it was not always evident.  There were several aspects to consider:  the right to participate in culture and to benefit from cultural practices; the importance of remembering that culture was no longer a sector, but a social system that produced well-being; the fact that culture must influence other areas of people’s lives, including health, food, water and security; and the fact that cultural aspects must be made sufficiently solid so that they might help meet the post-2015 development agenda.

In the ensuing dialogue, speakers thanked the panellists for the rich discussion, and said that, due to tight time constraints, they would send their statements to the Secretariat via email.

The representative of Algeria, however, expressed surprise that Mr. Hajji had mentioned a portion of Western Sahara, which was on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He had also mentioned the region’s cultural heritage, an important part of which had been destroyed by the Moroccan occupation.

A representative of the non-governmental organization New Future Foundation said it was critical to consider how the 55 million displaced Africans would be brought into the post-2015 development agenda.

Also participating were representatives of Saudi Arabia and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.