Protecting the diversity of cultural expressions is more important than ever

Held every year on 21 May, UNESCO leads the celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development highlighting not only the richness of the world’s cultures, but also the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development.

With 89% of all current conflicts in the world occurring in countries with low intercultural dialogue, to forge effective cooperation and sustain peace, strengthening intercultural dialogue must be a priority.

According to UNESCO data, the cultural and creative sector is one of the most powerful engines of development worldwide. It accounts for more than 48 million jobs globally –almost half of which are held by women – representing 6.2% of all existing employment and 3.1% of global GDP. It is also the sector that employs and provides opportunities for the largest number of young people under the age of 30.

However, the cultural and creative sector still does not have the place it deserves in public policies and international cooperation.

Declaration for culture

In a bid to change this, in September 2022, delegations from 150 States gathered in Mexico for MONDIACULT 2022, the largest world conference devoted to culture in the last 40 years.

They unanimously adopted the historic Declaration for Culture affirming culture as a “global public good” and calling for it to be integrated “as a specific goal in its own right” in the development agenda beyond 2030.

The text defines a set of cultural rights that need to be taken into account in public policies. These range from the social and economic rights of artists to artistic freedom, the right of indigenous communities to safeguard their ancestral knowledge, and the protection and promotion of cultural and natural heritage.

It also calls for substantial regulation of the digital sector, notably of the major platforms, for the benefit of online cultural diversity, artists’ intellectual property rights and fair access to content for all.

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