The United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and China announced today an international congress on the role that culture plays in achieving sustainable development.
The congress, entitled ‘Culture: Key to Sustainable Development’ will take place in Hangzhou, China from 15-17 May, and seeks to shape the 2015 global development agenda and beyond.
“Culture is what makes us who we are, it gives us strength, and it provides answers to many of the challenges we face today,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.
“This power is increasingly recognized by countries across the world. We need now determined political will to act on this recognition, to mainstream culture in all development strategies and programmes at global, regional and local levels, to integrate culture within national development goals,” she said.
UNESCO has long advocated that culture is essential to sustainable development, because of the resources it embodies for individuals and communities as a source of innovation and creativity.
Today, cultural heritage, cultural and creative industries, sustainable cultural tourism, and cultural infrastructure generate substantial revenues, notably in developing countries, helping them combat poverty and unemployment.
“Cultural factors influence lifestyles, consumption patterns, values related to our interaction with and stewardship of the natural environment,” UNESCO said in a news release. “It also encompasses local and indigenous knowledge systems and environmental management practices which provide valuable insight and tools with which to tackle ecological challenges, such as the loss of biodiversity, and land degradation, and climate change, not to mention its key role in enabling people to lead satisfying intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual lives.”
The congress will bring together some 450 policymakers, leaders from development institutions, representatives of the private sector, civil society, academia, and the arts, and is expected to provide substantive input to the discussions on the framework for the post-2015 development agenda.
“The goal is to inspire Governments, civil society, businesses and communities to harness the power of culture in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges,” UNESCO said.