07.05.2013 - Culture Sector

The Hangzhou Declaration: Heralding the next era of human development

17 May in Hangzhou (China) – Calling for a new approach toward sustainable development, the « Hangzhou Declaration » advocates for placing culture at the heart of public policy. The Declaration urges governments, civil society and the private sector to harness the power of culture in addressing the world’s most pressing developmental challenges, such as environmental sustainability, poverty, and social inclusion.


« Culture is precisely what enables sustainability – as a source of strength, of values and social cohesion, self esteem and participation. Culture is our most powerful force for creativity and renewal. » stated the Director General, Irina Bokova.


Released at the end of the Hangzhou International Congress, the Declaration is the product of intensive discussions led by over 100 of the world’s most cutting-edge leaders in the field of culture and development, who joined forces to prove the inextricable link between culture, sustainable development and lasting peace. The Congress is the largest and most high-profile global event in 15 years dedicated to culture and development. Following the Declaration’s adoption, the National Commission of China to UNESCO, the municipality of Hangzhou and the Vice minister for education of China, signed a joint statement to implement its recommendations together.


Building on UNESCO’s longstanding advocacy to demonstrate the link between culture and development, the Declaration brings together a decade of evidence and initiatives to showcase culture’s indispensable role for sustainability. Culture is at the vanguard of social and economic development in an increasing number of countries. Yet culture is still not fully integrated into sustainable development strategies worldwide. The Hangzhou Declaration urges that public policies need to reflect and scale up the variety of initiatives led at the local and national level. Because of culture’s cross-cutting role across a variety of fields, the Declaration exhorts stakeholders in the cultural sector and beyond – such as education, heath, and urban planning – to integrate culture in strategies for social growth and development.


Cultural and creative industries, such as tourism or heritage, and cultural infrastructure, such as museums and public theaters, are engines for social dialogue and cohesion, as well as jobs and revenues, especially in developing countries, thereby fighting poverty, unemployment and violence. The Declaration suggests that the creative economy, fueled by the power of new technologies, may be the next new economy, following the agrarian, industrial, and service economies.


The Hangzhou Declaration is a key step in UNESCO’s advocacy to integrate culture into sustainable development strategies, as the international community shapes a new global agenda for sustainable development after 2015. Its recommendations include:


·      Integrate culture within all developement policies and programmes, as equal measure with human rights, equality and sustainability

·      Mobilize culture and mutual understanding to foster peace and reconciliation

·      Ensure cultural rights for all to promote inclusive social development

·      Leverage culture for poverty reduction and inclusive economic development

·      Build on culture to promote environmental sustainability

·      Use culture to strenghten resilience to disaters and combat climate change through mitigation and adaptation

·      Value, safeguard and transmit culture to future generations

·      Harness culture as a ressource for achieving sustainable urban development and management

·      Capitalize on culture to foster innovative and sustainable models of cooperation


The Hangzhou Declaration is expected to play a crucial role in pushing for the full integration of culture into development goals, after 2015. It concludes: “We believe the integration of culture into development policies will set the stage for a new era of global development. We therefore recommend that a specific goal on culture be included as part of the UN Post-2015 development agenda”.






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