Secretary-General António Guterres is in Pakistan to attend the International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan. UN Photo / Mark Garten
Secretary-General's 2021 message
Culture is the flower of the human being – the fruit of our minds, the product of our traditions, the expression of our yearnings. Its diversity is wondrous, part of the rich tapestry of civilization.
Culture is also a powerhouse – an employer of millions, an engine of economic progress, a force for social cohesion.
The World Day for Cultural Diversity recognizes this great power.
So does the proclamation of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.
But these observances fall at a difficult time for culture. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world – and it has shaken the culture sector. Across the world, museums have been shuttered, music halls silenced, theatres gone dark, tourist sites abandoned and other cultural pursuits set aside as societies cope with death and disruption.
As vaccines generate hope, the world must ensure that pandemic recovery packages encompass the needs of cultural institutions, the arts and all those who are part of the creative world.
And at a time of spreading hatred and intolerance, we must not only defend diversity but invest in it. Societies today are multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural. This is a richness, not a threat. But we need to ensure that every community feels that their identity – their culture – is being respected.
Let us all support culture and its power to advance dialogue and development for the benefit of all.