Discussion on Urban Planning and Cultural Heritage Management in Herat ©UNESCO

Thematic Area 4: Legal Framework and Policies for Culture, Creative Industries and the Protection of Cultural Heritage

UNESCO updated the pre-war law on Cultural Heritage in 2004, and since then has partnered with the Ministry of Information and Culture in the full-fledged revision of the Law.  The draft law is currently going through the review and approvals process before becoming law. In a similar way, the NPCE will support the Afghan Government, through advocacy and the collaboration of experts to policy changes that will encourage the flourishing of the Creative Industries and the protection of the country’s Cultural Heritage.

The creative economy presents several economic, social and cultural benefits for the country.  Creative industries are highly decentralized and present in both rural and urban areas. They are very labour-intensive, have a large-scale involvement of women, and a high potential for employment in relation to the capital investment. Creative industries offer a high output-investment ratio, generating subsidiary off-season employment, and foreign currency assets from exports.

Over 90 percent of creative businesses are small or medium sized enterprises, and in most post-conflict economies, small and medium businesses are the largest source of employment. It is estimated that small businesses and entrepreneurs create 90% of new jobs. However, for Afghanistan to be able to deploy its full potential in the area of creative economy, there is a need to revise and streamline policies, laws and regulations affecting this sector. Ways forward could be:

- Ministry of Commerce to advance policies for regional agreements and the Ministry of Finance and the Afghanistan Customs Department to facilitate exports stemming from the creative economy (Advocacy in line with Section 5.5.e of the ANPDF 2017-2020); 

- National Procurement Agency to consider a procurement system that would favour the purchase of Afghan-made creative objects. For instance, the procurement of Afghan carpets for Afghan government offices;

- Ministry of Urban Development to update its policies to include the protection of built heritage in city planning and commit to heritage management plans for the cities of Afghanistan; Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to include social and heritage impact assessments in its contracts with mining companies. A percentage of the revenue generated by these contracts could be set aside to contribute to preventive surveys and protection plans for the potentially affected cultural heritage areas;

- The development ministries to make social and heritage impact assessments mandatory at the planning phase of large-scale infrastructure projects;

The creation of municipal departments of Cultural Heritage and Architecture and the transfer of the management and maintenance of cultural properties to municipalities, in line with the ANPDF Section 5.3.c – “Strengthening municipal capacity for revenue collection and service delivery” and supported by the Independent Directorate for Local Governance – which will be an area of advocacy for the NPCE. 

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