UN reviews role of culture in development agenda – IFACCA briefing updated

21 June 2013, Australia

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, the UN Secretary-General, H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon, made a significant statement on the role of culture in development. The next key date in the UN processes considering whether culture will be introduced into future official goals for sustainable development (post-2015) will be 2 July in Geneva.
Last week, on 12 June, at the United Nations in New York, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon, made the following important statements about the role of culture in development: http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=6895 
These statements were part of the introduction to a day-long thematic debate on culture and development convened by the President of the UN General Assembly by H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremić. A short report on the debate is here:   http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45156&Cr=post-2015&Cr1=#.Ubp6__nryxw and the full report is here: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2013/ga11379.doc.htm
There was a keynote address by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, a video message by H.E. Mr. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland and remarks by H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the United Nations High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations and Ms. Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator.  Ministers of Culture and of Foreign Affairs of twelve countries then spoke as did many other high level government representatives. The afternoon session involved two panel discussions with various international experts.
This debate was just one of various events underway within the United Nations that will influence whether culture is introduced into the future development agenda (through the review of the Millennium Development Goals).  The outcome of these deliberations could have a significant impact on public spending on culture.
The next major event takes place in Geneva on 1-4 July when there will be a session of the high-level segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) entitled ‘Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals’   http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/julyhls/index13.shtml. The programme includes nine Ministerial breakfasts and one of these (on 2 July) will be presented by the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, to advocate for culture to be included as a dimension in the post-2015 development agenda. The Issues Paper for this session, ‘Culture and Innovation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ is here: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/julyhls/pdf13/hls_issue_note_unescoci.pdf
Last week, IFACCA circulated to its members a briefing on the process, key dates and organisations, and actions that could be taken to advocate for culture to be acknowledged in the future goals as an ‘enabler and driver of sustainable development’.   This briefing and other updates are on the IFACCA website here:   http://www.ifacca.org/topic/culture-and-development/.
You can also find extensive resources on UNESCO’s website here: www.unesco.org/culture/hangzhou-congress  .  As UNESCO notes (in its briefing documents):
‘…what is still missing is a globally agreed and shared recognition that development programmes and strategies at the global, regional and local levels should integrate culture within their goals, indicators and targets. Without such actions, and the giving of related guidance on human capacity-building, the potential of culture to contribute to sustainable development risks being largely untapped in many regions of the world.
‘… the major challenge is to convince political decision-makers and local, national and international social actors to integrate the principles of cultural diversity and the values of cultural pluralism into all public policies, mechanisms and practices, particularly through public/private partnerships.’
It is important to ensure that cogent and convincing arguments are heard at the very highest levels in the UN and the member states as to why culture must not continue to be left out of the goals for sustainable development. These messages are also being delivered to the UN and national governments by international networks, city and local governments, and civil society organisations.