International Council for
Philosophy and Human Sciences

2011 in Culture: a Pillar for Sustainable Development

2011 was a time for celebrating past accomplishments while affirming UNESCO’s global leadership in promoting the role of culture for sustainable development through international advocacy, reinforced standard-setting and operational activities.


The year was marked by the anniversaries of several of UNESCO’s foremost cultural legal instruments: the 40th anniversary of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property; the 5th anniversary of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; and the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. In addition preparations were underway for next year’s worldwide celebration of the 40th anniversary of UNESCO’s most famous standard-setting instrument: the World Heritage Convention. The festivities and expert meetings organized both at Headquarters and in the Field to commemorate the anniversaries in 2011 provided opportunities for the Culture Sector to engage directly with stakeholders and partners concerned. Together they took stock of the results obtained and forged strategies to ensure the continued relevance of these instruments in our rapidly evolving world.

During the 36th General Conference, Member States clearly reaffirmed their commitment to support UNESCO’s cultural conventions. Through these international legal instruments, UNESCO fulfils its mandate to safeguard the world’s cultural diversity thereby contributing to building a sustainable future for all societies.  With 25 new inscriptions in 2011, the World Heritage List now totals 936 properties. Regarding living heritage, 11 new elements were inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding while 19 were added to the Representative List. Kernavé Archeological Site (Lithuania) was the fifth World Heritage site to be granted ‘enhanced protection” in the event of armed conflict under the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention.

Other highlights of the 36th General Conference include the unanimous adoption of the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape and the proclamation of International Jazz Day (30 April). Five new category 2 centres were also created in the fields of heritage studies (Italy), languages (Iceland), women in the arts (Jordan), contemporary art (Qatar) and rock art (Spain).

UNESCO’s role as a leader in advocating the role of ‘culture for development’ within the UN system was further bolstered by a new UN General Assembly resolution adopted in late 2011. This resolution builds upon the landmark UNGA resolution 65/166 of December 2010, which first highlighted the significant contribution of culture for sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The inter-agency MDG-Fund programmes underway in 18 developing countries progressed throughout 2011.  To demonstrate the impact of culture-based projects on poverty alleviation and social cohesion for future advocacy, data and results of these activities are being compiled and analyzed through an innovative knowledge management project.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed June 2011 provides for technical cooperation between UNESCO and the World Bank to promote the culture and development agenda through heritage-related initiatives and joint research.

On the ground, UNESCO’s actively pursued its worldwide activities throughout 2011 despite a difficult financial context. Special priority was given to post-disaster and post conflict situations. Reconstruction in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti continued through initiatives related to heritage conservation, cultural industries and mobile libraries. In spring 2011, UNESCO responded rapidly to the social upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya by mobilizing experts to elaborate short and medium-term strategies for protecting the cultural heritage of those countries. Immediately after the outbreak of hostilities in Libya, The Director-General called upon the members of the Coalition to protect cultural property in accordance with their obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention and its Protocols. The Secretariat also furnished military authorities with map coordinates of major cultural monuments and sites to ensure their safety during operations.

The ambitious Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa project, aimed at developing common history curricula for African primary and secondary schools, entered a crucial stage in 2011 with the initial drafting of pedagogical content and teachers guides.

The Second UNESCO World Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industries in Monza (Italy), devoted to the e-book economy, explored solutions to the principle challenges facing traditional and electronic publishing and reading in our increasingly globalized world.

At the 9th Regional Summit of Heads of State of South East Europe in Belgrade (Serbia) the Director-General announced the launch of a new global initiative, ‘Culture: a Bridge to Development. This innovative project is designed to create networks among cultural professionals, civil society and decision makers with a view to positioning culture, the arts and heritage at the heart of peace-building, reconciliation and development.

2012 will be fraught with new challenges. In these trying times, the Culture team at Headquarters and in the Field stands prepared to pursue its noble mission together with stakeholders and a global network of partners. Creativity, solidarity and dedication to the core values of UNESCO will carry the day.

The Culture Sector extends its best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!

22.12.2011 - Culture Sector


  Article Source : UNESCO
December 28, 2011