Frequently asked questions on the MDG-F Culture and Development Joint Programmes

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What is the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F)?

The Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) is an international fund that was established on 18 December 2006 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Spain to accelerate progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to support the United Nations (UN) Reform through inter-agency interventions at the country level.

To that end, the Government of Spain committed 528 million Euros to the Fund in December 2006, followed by an additional 90 million Euros in 2008, to support the “Delivering as One” pilot countries as well as to finance 128 Joint Programmes implemented across 49 different countries in eight thematic areas of intervention, referred to as “Thematic Windows”: “Culture and Development”, “Children, Food Security and Nutrition”, “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”, “Environment and Climate Change”, “Youth, Employment and Migration”, “Democratic Economic Governance”, “Development and the Private Sector” and “Conflict Prevention and Peace building”.

The Fund is managed by the MDG-F Secretariat based in New York, which ensures the global operational coordination of the Fund. Moreover, each Thematic Window has a dedicated Convenor, which is a UN agency. UNESCO, as the only UN agency with a mandate in the field of culture, is the Convenor of the Culture and Development Thematic Window.


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What are the main objectives of the MDG-F Thematic Window on “Culture and Development”?

According to its Terms of Reference, the MDG-F Thematic Window on “Culture and Development” aims to foster sustainable socio-economic development by building on cultural assets. To that end it supports countries in three areas:

(i) the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies and strategies promoting social inclusion and cultural rights and facilitating political participation of culturally excluded groups;

(ii)    the promotion of cultural and creative industries as drivers of economic and human development;

(iii)   institutional capacity-building to generate data, statistics and indicators for effective formulation, monitoring and evaluation of cultural policies.

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What are the “Culture and Development” Joint Programmes about, where are they implemented and by whom?

Of the 45 project proposals submitted for financing by the MDG-F in the area of “Culture and Development”, 18 were selected and developed into Joint Programmes, with most starting in 2008. They are being implemented in Africa (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal), Arab States (Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, oPt), Asia (Cambodia, China), Latin America (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay), and South-East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey). The total budget of the Culture and Development Thematic Window amounts to 95 million USD.

With a view to ensuring national ownership and enhancing the sustainability of the Culture and Development Joint Programmes, a wide range of stakeholders from all levels of society are actively involved in their implementation: international partners (including UN agencies), government authorities (at national, regional and local levels), public cultural institutions, community groups and leaders, religious and traditional authorities, civil society organizations and the private sector.

The “Culture and Development” Joint Programmes’ areas of work range from strengthening cultural and creative industries, developing sustainable cultural tourism, safeguarding tangible and intangible heritage, and promoting cultural diversity and pluralism, to supporting inclusive policies and ethnic minority development. The Programmes therefore cover a wide variety of cultural domains, including cultural and natural heritage, intangible cultural heritage, performance and celebration, visual arts and crafts, books and press, audio-visual and interactive media, design and creative services, and tourism. UNESCO’s Cultural Conventions form the legal backbone of programme activities, along with several other international instruments, such as ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

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Who are their beneficiaries?

Over 1.5 million people directly benefit from the activities implemented by the “Culture and Development” Joint Programmes, namely through capacity building, knowledge transfer, job and income creation. Beneficiaries include a diversity of stakeholders in the Programmes’ targeted areas of intervention, in particular women, youth, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, representatives of the private sector (namely those involved in cultural and creative industries), and civil society organizations (including community and religious leaders), as well as government authorities (at central and decentralized levels) and public institutions, thereby illustrating the impacts of the Joint Programmes at all levels of society. The 18 Joint Programmes are also indirectly affecting over 8.3 million people, such as family and community members of direct beneficiaries.

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How is UNESCO involved in the Joint Programmes?

Given its unique mandate in the field of culture, UNESCO has a pivotal role in the Culture and Development Joint Programmes (JPs), both as Convenor of the MDG-F Thematic Window and as implementing partner of the 18 Joint Programmes.

As Convenor of the Thematic Window, UNESCO coordinated the review and approval process of the 45 proposals submitted for financing in the area of Culture and Development. As Convenor and in line with its clearing house function to spread and share knowledge, UNESCO is also implementing a Knowledge Management Strategy developed in order to capitalize on the knowledge gained from the 18 Culture and Development Joint Programmes, as part of the MDG-F global Knowledge Management initiative (see below).

As implementing agency of all 18 Joint Programmes and lead agency of most of them, UNESCO has also played an active role in their design, inception and implementation, in line with its capacity-building function (for example by training policy makers, cultural entrepreneurs, museum and archaeological park managers etc.) and standard-setting role, by providing technical assistance for the implementation of international culture conventions, for the formulation of cultural policies and programmes and for the identification of gaps in culture-related legislation, and by supporting activities in multiple areas including cultural heritage protection and restoration, intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity, cultural tourism and cultural/creative industries.

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What is the MDG-F Knowledge Management (KM) strategy?

The KM strategy for Culture and Development was launched by UNESCO in October 2010 over a two-year period with the aim of developing a Knowledge Management System on Culture and Development to share the 18 Joint Programmes’ experiences, in particular regarding their impact, success stories and lessons resulting from operational challenges, in view of informing future culture and development programmes and policies.

This strategy is part of the MDG-F global Knowledge Management strategy, which aims to contribute to the sustainability of the Joint Programmes beyond their life cycle, to inform the wider development community, and to demonstrate the contribution made by the Joint Programmes towards the achievement of the MDGs. The MDG-F Knowledge Management strategy is based on three pillars: UN agency-led knowledge management strategies for each Thematic Window (developed and implemented by the corresponding UN Convenor agency), Teamworks (an electronic platform developed by UNDP as an interactive process to exchange information and experiences, in line with the operational needs of the MDG-F) and research partnerships.