The times they are a-changin’

UNESCO Headquarters in Paris - Some Permanent Delegates attend the 35th General Conference of UNESCO. photographer: Michel Ravassard © UNESCO


“We acknowledge the diversity of the world and recognize that all cultures and civilizations contribute to the enrichment of humankind. We emphasize the importance of culture for development and its contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”

From: Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Declaration of the 2010 United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit.

In 2010 and 2011, the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted three historic resolutions, which marked a profound shift in perspective on culture: from a view of culture as ‘decorative’ or secondary to key development initiatives, to one which recognises its fundamental role in addressing global challenges effectively and sustainably.

Following the 2010 UN Summit on the MDG and its outcome resolution called “Keeping the promise: united to achieve the Millennium Development Goals”, two other important resolutions specifically on culture and development were adopted, which emphasized the importance of culture as “an essential component of human development, a source of identity, innovation and creativity for the individual and the community”.

The Resolutions also stressed that culture is “an important factor in the fight against poverty, providing for economic growth and ownership of development processes”, and acknowledged “the positive contribution of culture in achieving sustainable development goals including the Millennium Development Goals.

The operational implications of this paradigm shift, however, have not yet been fully drawn in development policies and programmes. The time has now come to take action and fully integrate culture into the practical implementation of the global development agenda, in line with the work of 18 United Nations entities that have already taken action in this regard.

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