Culture opens new avenues for development: UNESCO Director-GeneralListen /
“The power of culture must be recognized as a pillar for sustainable development, and this is why we are here,” the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said at the opening of the International Congress of Hangzhou in China.
She said “We must rethink growth models, environmental and social models, and culture offers the means to renew ideas, to foster openness and to promote the innovation we need to make the most of it".
The Hangzhou Congress is a key step in UNESCO's advocacy to integrate culture into sustainable development strategies, as the international community shapes a new global agenda for sustainable development after 2015.
According to Ms. Bokova,”We are entering a critical phase of redefining sustainable development in its three pillars– economic, environmental and social. Culture is at the heart of each of them”.
She recalled the double power of culture as an economic driver and a source of social inclusion, explaining that "the values of culture are more than economic — they are values of expression, participation, collective mobilization".
The UNESCO chief noted that the demand for culture is growing – this calls for better policies, stronger tools, sharper statistics and better trained professionals, for each situation.
She said heritage, know-how, intangible heritage, creative industries and cultural diversity are strengths to enforce, and UNESCO's Conventions are tools to protect and to enhance this potential.
Ms. Bokova concluded that “We must not miss this historic opportunity to underline the vital link between culture and development”.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.