Cultural Industry for Sustainable Development of Fiji
National Consultation on the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions took place in Suva from 29 to 30 May 2013. The Consultation had a topic “Cultural Diversity: Impetus for a Dynamic and Sustainable Economy”.
Fiji is a Melanesian country in the Pacific comprising some 300 islands with a population of around 850,000. Fiji is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific with its rich natural resources. Today, tourism industry is the main source of its foreign exchange. The population of Fiji is made up of diverse communities as a result of migrations both from outside and within the Pacific region.
Fiji authorities have been considering joining the 2005 Convention since Dhaka Ministerial Forum on Cultural Diversity held in May 2012. The Consultation that took place in Suva from 29 to 30 May 2013 was the first consultation on the 2005 Convention held among the Pacific islands states as a follow up of Dhaka Forum.
The Consultation was opened by Ambassador Filipe Bole, Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture & Arts. The Ambassador highlighted the recent developments of Fiji’s cultural and creative industries. He pointed out the needs of a national policy and infrastructure that could provide support to their sustainable growth. He further presented his view on how cultural activities could contribute to the cultural governance in Fiji.
The Consultation brought together stakeholders from public and private sectors as well as civil society in Fiji. This included, among others, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Women, National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development, Fiji Intellectual Property Office, Rabi Council, Fiji Arts Council, iTaukei Trust Fund, Film Fiji, Pacific Island Public Sector Organisation, Fiji Intellectual Property Office, Fiji Performing Rights Association, Conservatorium of Music, Fiji Fashion Week ltd., Curriculum Advisory Service for Technical and Vocational Education, Vou Dance Group as well as Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Their presentations and also mini fashion show organised with the assistance of the Fiji Fashion Week Itd. eloquently testified the dynamic cultural and creative industries that are emerging in the country.
On the first day of the Consultation, Dr Takahashi, UNESCO in Apia, introduced the Convention as part of UNESCO’s normative actions in culture. The participants then sprit into small groups and examined the Convention’s articles to share their understanding and seek for clarifications.
Mr Charles Vallerand, General Secretary of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD) made a presentation via tele-conferencing. His presentation focused on culture and trade issue as origin of the 2005 Convention. Ms Helen George, member of the Experts Panel of the Convention, made a presentation on economic, cultural and social benefits of the Convention. The participants then engaged in group exercises in preparing proposals for the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
Artists among the participants expressed high expectations to the Convention with a goal to create an environment conducive to the diversity of cultural expressions. The participants appreciated the unique feature of the Convention regarding preferential arrangements for developing countries. These arrangements could be foreseen in terms of mobility of artists, trade access and capacity building. The discussion shed light on the added value of the Convention to Fiji as a framework to address issues that are relevant to the country. These issues are the status of artists, culture and education, cultural governance, and cultural policy development. The Consultation concluded with a recommendation to the Fiji government to become party to the 2005 Convention.
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