Green and Decent Jobs

Young woman working in textile workshop. Photographer: Niamh Burke © UNESCO

Many activities, associated with the stewardship and production of culture, are green “by design” since they embody a more sustainable pattern of land use, consumption and production than most modern approaches. Sustainable tourism can be a strategic tool for income generation and poverty reduction, while the cultural industries require limited capital investment and have low entry barriers.  As culture-related economic opportunities are also not easily outsourced, the culture sector offers the opportunity to develop intrinsically local, place based jobs that foster a connection to and respect for the environment.

The economic benefits of culture are being increasingly recognized. For example, a study carried out in Australia estimates that the country’s 17 World Heritage properties generate $12 billion annually and sustain more than 120,000 jobs (Australian Government Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008, Annual Report 2007-08). While in Benin, supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity, the NGO World Rhythm Productions has been developing a new business model for the music sector, ensuring that Beninese artists can sell their music locally. These agreements also are allowing local distributors to buy music productions at lower wholesale prices, with profits reinvested back into the artists’ associations and other music stakeholders. This not only strengthens local cultural industries, but also means a reduction in the environmental costs associated with importing music from abroad.

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