21.09.2010 - UNESCOPRESS

Culture a driver for development and the achievement of the eight Millennium Development Goals says UNESCO Director-General

© UNESCO/Bob Krasner - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opening the roundtable on culture and development, with President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, in New York during the MDG Summit on 21 September 2010

Culture has a key role to play in reaching the development goals, concluded participants at a roundtable discussion opened by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the Millennium Summit in New York on Tuesday 21 September 2010.

The event was co-chaired by African Union Chairman Jean Ping and Commissioner for Development of the European Commission Andris Piebalgs, who announced a one million euro strategic EU/UNESCO partnership to improve the system of governance for culture in developing countries.

Keynote addresses were delivered by the two chairmen, as well as President Wade of Senegal and Bosnian President Silajdzic. They were followed by a lively discussion with the audience composed of high level representatives of intergovernmental institutions from the World Bank, UNDP, ADB and the UNF and of Member States and Parliamentarians, as well as the media.

“Over the past decade, we have seen a welcome new trend evolving, mainly in developing countries,” Irina Bokova said. “I am speaking about culture as an economic driver: a creator of jobs and revenues; a means of making poverty eradication strategies relevant and more effective at the local level.”
The power of culture to drive development was also underscored by Jean Ping who announced the launching of a two-year regional campaign for the Renaissance of African Cultures intended to promote regional integration building on the wealth of African’s cultural diversity and the dynamism of the cultural sector in Africa.

President Wade called for eradicating from within potential harmful cultural practices that still tend to incorrectly demonstrate that culture can be an obstacle to development. Senegal would launch, he said, a country-wide initiative to support capacity-building of African cultural industries that are particularly dynamic, so as to develop economic outlets towards a sustainable cultural industry and asked for UNESCO’s support in this endeavor.

“Culture is instrumental in reaching the MDGs,” European Commissioner Piebalgs affirmed while announcing a one million euros strategic EU/UNESCO partnership to improve the system of governance for culture in developing countries, striking the balance between social and economic interests. He stressed the need to strengthen regulatory and institutional frameworks for the promotion of cultural industries. The need to foster data collection on the impact of the culture sector on the socio-economic development was called for as well as the need to assess MDG indicators from a cultural perspective.

Haris Silajdzic, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina stressed the importance of intercultural dialogue and respect for cultural diversity to achieve development in conflict-affected countries. Without these crucial elements no sustainable and long-lasting peace can be achieved he said.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova pointed out that while culture is not explicitly referred to in the 8 Millennium Development Goals, this week’s Summit in New York provides a unique opportunity to “right the helm”.

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