Cultural diversity has emerged as a key concern at the turn of a new century. Yet the meanings attached to this term are as varied as they are shifting. On the one hand, cultural diversity is considered as inherently positive, insofar as it points to a sharing of the wealth embodied in each of the world’s cultures and, accordingly, to the links uniting us all in processes of exchange and dialogue. On the other hand, cultural differences are seen as what cause us to lose sight of our common humanity and are therefore at the root of numerous conflicts.
In the context of globalization and increasing migration and urbanization, the interrelated challenges of preserving cultural identity and promoting intercultural dialogue assume a new prominence and urgency. Among UNESCO’s chief missions is to ensure space for and freedom of expression to all the world’s cultures, therefore UNESCO aims to revitalize every culture in order to avoid segregation and cultural entrenchment and prevent conflict. Integrating cultural diversity in a wide range of public policies – including the fields that are often considered remote from the cultural field proper – can help renew the international community’s approaches to two key objectives: development; and peace building and conflict prevention.