Diversity and dialogue, the hallmark of UNESCO ever since its inception, now rank at the very top of the international political agenda. As collective forces indispensable for sustainable development, they have become instruments to guarantee peace and world cohesion, in a world where each culture preserves its identity and dignity.


Since the early 90s the concept of sustainable development has undergone a veritable revolution. It has now been largely demonstrated that sustainable development and cultural growth are interdependent. This implies that development should respond to the needs of present generations without compromising the capacity of future generations to satisfy theirs, be it in the environmental, economic or cultural fields.

Culture in its widest meaning also includes all our systems of beliefs, values, attitudes, customs and institutions. It affects our social relations and the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us, and how we interact with other people and the rest of nature. It is also a key element of economic development.

The world today is witnessing increasingly globalized exchanges that should bring real and potential advantages to people instead of widening disparities and increasing inequalities among them. The challenge we therefore face is to make culture and cultural diversity key elements of all activities aiming at sustainable development.

The partnership between UNESCO's International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) and Integral Development Asset Management (I.DE.A.M) constitutes a model for collaboration with the world of business on the important objectives of the international community. The activity chosen for this purpose fully illustrates this approach. Indeed, the Harmony List thus created is intended to highlight the best cultural practices contributing to sustainable development. The objective of the Harmony List is to demonstrate how much cultural diversity is a link for a constant and federating dialogue between all expressions of identity.

To inaugurate the Harmony List, the IFPC and the Médicis Committee, a think tank created by I.DE.A.M bringing together groups committed to sustainable development in the financial domain, chose two practices: the “Bush Schools” of the Cree or Eeyou First Nation in the James Bay region of subarctic Quebec, Canada, and “Bedouin Hospitality”. The two were selected from a list of 10 practices from countries in all regions of the world.

Diversity and dialogue are inseparable, and harmony is the celebration of their encounter. The Harmony List of Best Cultural Practices contributing to Sustainable Development does not claim to be exhaustive; it simply wishes to honour these practices.


The Harmony List of best cultural practices contributing to sustainable development aims to highlight successful practices that contribute significantly to improving the quality of life and integrating the cultural dimension in economic and social development in a lasting manner.

The main criteria for a best practice are:

  • Maintaining harmony between human beings and their surroundings
  • Respect for the natural and cultural environment
  • Relevance to local conditions and development levels
  • Being a source of inspiration for resolving contemporary problems
  • Recognition of differences and receptivity to social and cultural diversity
  • Promotion of equality, including gender equality and social equity
  • Contribution to strengthening the status and decision-making power of populations, neighbourhoods and communities, and taking account of their contributions
  • Empowerment of individuals and communities
  • Social integration and reduction of exclusion
  • Job creation and poverty reduction
  • Improvement of traditional cultural practices while remaining faithful to their original values
  • Potential for transfer, adaptation and reproduction
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