The Role of Culture in Sustainable Development

© UNESCO\Dom João
Photographer in a popular fair in Brazil.

Systematically integrating cultural specificities in the conception, measurement, and practice of development is imperative as it ensures the involvement of the local population and a desirable outcome of development efforts.

Sustainable tourism, cultural and creative industries, and heritage-based urban revitalization are powerful economic subsectors that generate green employment, stimulate local development, and foster creativity. 

Local and indigenous knowledge systems and environmental management practices provide valuable insight and tools for tackling ecological challenges, preventing biodiversity loss, reducing land degradation, and mitigating the effects of climate change.

In the transition to green societies, dialogue and tolerance will be key for mutual understanding and the building of bridges among nations and countries, leading to a culture of peace, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development. In that context, we must make the most of the world’s cultural diversity, as it fosters development and social cohesion.

Although there is still much work to be done on fully integrating culture into the international development policies, Rio+20 has been an important step in mainstreaming the role of culture. We now need to build on this progress to ensure culture’s ability to support truly sustainable development is fully harnessed by all and that culture is a key part of the post-2015 development framework.

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