The UNESCO Cultural Conventions: a tool for sustainable development

Restoration works. Smashed object during restoration works. Photographer: Manoocher / Webistan © UNESCO

 

All seven of UNESCO’s Cultural Conventions are intended to safeguard and nurture some aspect of culture and creativity, from tangible and intangible heritage, the diversity of cultural expressions and creative industries, to the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural goods.

While some have a development agenda more explicitly built into them than others, all of the Conventions have implications for development both in terms of how they can contribute to it and in the impact that development has on culture.

Firmly grounded in a human-rights based approach, these Conventions establish a range of governmental and international funding and cooperation mechanisms, as well as monitoring and evaluation tools. They promote capacity building programmes and other initiatives for the safeguard of culture (including natural heritage) and its integration in national and local development strategies.

Examples of how the Conventions contribute to development include the UNESCO designated sites, such as the nearly 1000 World Heritage properties and over 500 Biosphere Reserves, which provide ideal laboratories where innovative heritage-driven approaches to sustainable development are tested. Under the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD), established in the framework of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, support is provided on a regular basis to developing countries, including non-governmental organisations, for projects in the fields of cultural policies and cultural industries. EU-funded technical assistance missions, carried out within the framework of the same Convention, promote social and economic development, in particular to strengthen the system of governance of the culture sector.

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