Thematic Debate: Culture and Development

Date/Location: Wednesday June 12, 2013; 10:00-1:00; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic (President of the United Nations General Assembly); H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon (United Nations Secretary-General); Ms. Irina Bokova (Director-General of UNESCO); H.E. Mr. Michael D. Higgins (President of Ireland); H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (United Nations High Represntative of the Alliance of Civilizations); Ms. Helen Clark (UNDP Administrator)

Written by: Marli Kasdan

Attended by: Gregory Swistel, Norah Crossnohere, Iman Yashruti, Alyssa Strasser, Sunny Hor, Candace Tang, Mary Lam, Janice H.W. Wong, Marli Kasdan


world-in-black-and-white-hands-1Today, a thematic debate on culture and development was held in the Trusteeship Council. Throughout this debate world leaders, key note speakers, and representatives gave statements on the importance of culture as a tool for development. The session began with opening remarks from H.E. Mr. Jeremic and H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon who both gave statements on how culture was largely left out of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and how it is necessary to include culture as a component of development in the post 2015 development agenda.

The first speaker, Ms. Bokova opened by stating “Culture is what we are” and gave a compelling statement on the need to acknowledge the power of culture and its links to sustainable development. She spoke about how culture is a key enabler of development and poverty reduction, a key component to improved education and healthcare, important for sustainable livelihoods and environments, and how culture can be a source of gender empowerment.

Ms. Bokova called for policies and structures to be created to harness the power of culture as a tool for social and economic development, rule of law, good governance, and human rights; factors which are essential for sustainable development and all affected by culture. She also stated that a focus on culture is good for countries’ economies because it is a driver for growth in tourism and creative industries. In conclusion she stated that it is time to put culture on the development agenda as a fundamental principle and catalyst for development.

A video message was then given by H.E. Mr. Higgins who agreed with the previous speakers on how cultural development must be involved in the post 2015 development framework. He called on the necessity of a framework to be built which strikes the right balance between economic, social, cultural, and environmental development. Adopting a culturally sensitive approach when designing the post 2015 framework is the best way to contribute to more stable and inclusive societies.

H.E. Mr. Nasser then addressed the panel and audience on the importance of culture in development in achieving the MDGs and a sustainable future. He stated that governments must rethink strategies in order to bring culture to the forefront of their development priorities. Investing in culture and creative industries is a way to revitalize economies and reduce poverty because creative industries represent one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the economy, and cultural tourism is growing as well.

This shows how culture is an important source of employment and revenue as well as a source of heritage and history. He also stated that indigenous local knowledge is extremely useful in mitigating the effects of climate change and that culture is a key component that is too often either missing, misunderstood, or politicized.

Following, Ms. Clark gave a statement echoing many of the sentiments previously made on how culture is a driver and enabler of sustainable development. She said that we must think more broadly about the role of culture in development and that cultural diversity and sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and provide the necessary basis for peace and harmony which are needed for development to thrive.

The first segment of the debate then concluded with comments and statements from various delegations on the importance of culture in development and what needs to be done to put culture at the forefront of the post 2015 development agenda.

Edited By: Wayne Dean Doyle

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