16.06.2014 - UNESCO Office in Hanoi

Discussing cultural diversity in the context of ethnic minority poverty reduction


Thai Nguyen, 13 June, 2014 - Identified as one of the key issues in ethnic minority poverty reduction, cultural diversity was widely discussed among policy makers, scholars and development practitioners during the international Sustainable Development and Ethnic Minority Poverty Reduction in Mountainous Regions conference, organized by the World Bank and Thai Nguyen University from 11-13 June, 2014. UNESCO, the sole UN agency responsible for culture, was invited to contribute to fostering a culturally appropriate approach to development and to chair the panels on cultural diversity.

Using culture as a resource for development, a cultural diversity approach calls for a strong respect for existing cultural norms and an understanding of the local cultural context. To this end, at the conference, UNESCO also introduced the “Cultural Diversity Lens”, a practical and adaptable tool to create awareness of cultural dimensions in development programmes, to participants during the poster viewing sessions. The tool is critical for avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach and enhancing development outcomes by incorporating awareness of cultural diversity throughout the project cycle in order to ensure project effectiveness and increased impact over the short-term; at the same time it will also ensure that the country’s development over the long-term is inclusive, creative, and participatory, and that the country’s cultural diversity will be safeguarded and flourish.

Although Viet Nam is among the few countries with substantial reductions in poverty, ethnic minorities groups are still far from achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals. While ethnic minority people only occupy 14% of the entire national population, they account for nearly one half of the national poor. In addressing the issue of ethnic minority poverty, there is a growing concern about developing a more holistic approach which widens the spectrum of development issues such as livelihoods and access to markets, natural resource management, education, healthcare and cultural diversity.

While the traditional culture of ethnic minority groups has sometimes been considered a barrier to development efforts, there is an increasing tendency that acknowledges the value of cultural diversity and the contribution it can make to alleviating poverty, improving livelihoods and achieving sustainable development goals. Concrete examples have been shown through both presentations and poster sessions on how cultural assets and resources can be used as a means to generate incomes, to protect the natural resources, or to address climate change.



For more information, please contact:

Duong Bich Hanh

Culture Programme Coordinator

UNESCO Ha Noi Office

23 Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi


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