Investing in culture’s potential for development


This symposium is motivated by the need to advance the culture and development agenda. Despite the recognized potential and positive impact of the culture sector on socio-economic development and poverty reduction, it remains nevertheless marginalised in development policies and programmes. Research and international recognition and commitment have not been translated into action or progress: real potential for economic growth and poverty reduction has not succeeded in prompting important investment in culture, which represents only 1.7 per cent of international development aid.

The culture and creative sector also suffers from a lack of access to funding, especially in developing countries, due to the perception, often based on false premises, that such investments are more risk-prone. Symposiums, research projects and events on the benefits of cultural investments have not succeeded in convincing investors and the international development community to support the sector’s growth and expansion.

This symposium aims to develop new strategies and approaches to investment in the cultural and creative sector in developing countries, looking at the topic through the lens of the perception and management of risks.


  • Catalyse further action and analysis of funding the culture sector in developing countries
  • Challenge current perceptions of the risks involved in funding culture
  • Share best practices and experience in managing risks
  • Develop a new approach to respond to the challenges of attracting funding, targeting public and private funding bodies as well as the international development community.


This symposium is part of a number of initiatives organized by UNESCO on the theme of « Culture and Development » and reflects UNESCO’s commitment to pushing the agenda forward. It follows the UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries (Monza, September 2009) and the symposium Culture and Development: a response to the challenges of the future? (Paris, October 2009).

Milestone events in 2010 offer the opportunity to push forward and highlight the importance of culture to development processes. UNESCO’s symposium aims to contribute to the discourses and debates surrounding the UN review of the Millennium Development Goals in September and the EU high-level meeting on culture and development in May.


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