Guyana calls for relevant inquiry into state of world's cultural wellbeing

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Guyana's Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports Frank Anthony at the high-level thematic debate on culture and development.

Rather than letting cultural differences create divisions, the international community now has the opportunity to integrate cultural traditions into a post-2015 development agenda that would bolster human rights and spur economic growth, speakers said this week as the General Assembly held its High-level Thematic Debate on Culture and Development.

Guyana's Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports Frank Anthony said culture embodied the diverse ways in which people responded to, reflected upon and expressed their continuing life experiences. Yet efforts to measure and quantify its contributions were often viewed with scepticism.

“There is urgent need for relevant inquiry to determine the state of the world’s cultural wellbeing, through research and measurement to determine whether it is in a healthy or fragile state. Some evidence points to the destruction of cultural and heritage sites, loss of languages, devaluing of traditional practices and the erasure of historical records – giving the impression of an impending catastrophe. On the other hand the regenerative power of culture has seen the explosive growth of the creative sector, the development of cultural industries, the creation of new jobs and opening up new frontiers of thinking and being for humanity. In fact, we should think about culture as a continuum with its roots in antiquity and its branches reaching into the future. We therefore reaffirm the need to measure the Cultural wellbeing of the world in all its aspects. Currently it is difficult to make such an assessment. Information is not regularly collected; it is not standardized and therefore not comparable. Without proper information, the public will remain unconvinced and will continue to undervalue the contributions of culture.”

Minister Frank Anthony proposed the establishment of a group of experts to develop a Global Cultural Index with subsidiary indices at the regional and national levels. He said it should be done in such a way as to allow for comparison countries and include a comprehensive set of indicators to measure the full spectrum of culture. He added that the development of this tool will provide the information to monitor and track cultural changes around the world.

“As we examine the merits of reflecting this theme in the post 2015 developmental agenda, I take this opportunity to underscore the high importance that the Government of Guyana places on culture as an integral part of the development of the Guyanese society. It is a natural reflection of the diversity of our peoples and a testimony of the individual strengths that have combined to realize a proud and progressive society. In this regard, I wish to emphasize the power of culture in multi-ethnic societies such as ours, in promoting social cohesion. It is our belief that culture is critical to the success of any positive model of society and will serve us well as we seek to maximize the full developmental potential of our peoples in a sustainable manner. Guyana would therefore wish to see more agreements, conventions and declarations that establish an enabling environment for the sustaining, promoting, harnessing and harvesting of culture. A consensus on the multifaceted and cross cutting relevance of culture must be firmly embedded into new international agreements.”

Guyana's Minister of Culture Frank Anthony said Culture is too important to

be ignored and all of us must be advocates for its adequate consideration in the

elaboration of the post 2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’00″

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