Positioning the diversity of cultural expressions at the core of Denmark's development programme
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The Danish Centre for Culture and Development (CKU) was established as a self-governing institution under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1998 with the aim of strengthening cooperation within the fields of art, culture and development between Denmark and developing countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. To this end, local partners and Danish embassies and representations were brought together under various assistance programmes.
Between 2013 and 2016, the CKU has implemented in particular the Danish Strategy for Culture and Development entitled “The Right to Art and Culture”. This innovative international sustainable development strategy places at its core the links between the diversity of cultural expressions, sustainable development and the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, noting that “Art and culture give rise to critical reflections and engagement and are an important part of the development of modern, democratic societies.” The main objectives of the strategy are thus to “contribute to combating poverty, strengthening democracy and building peace by promoting the universal realization of the right to partake in culture and freedom of expression.”
Programmes have been run in 13 developing countries. In Nepal, for instance, CKU’s programme focused on youth empowerment through active participation in cultural life and included the production and diffusion of children’s TV series stimulating creativity and critical thinking. In Africa, the establishment of the Design Network Africa (DNA) helped to foster interactions and collective work between designers from East, West and Southern African and provide them with tailored mentoring schemes on creation, production and distribution to help them build sustainable and viable local cultural enterprises.
In 2016, an evaluation of the Danish Strategy for Culture and Development was conducted, following the closure of the programme. It demonstrates that CKU-funded activities have had a transformative impact at the individual as well as community levels. They also succeeded in strengthening the voice and creative expressions of marginalized groups.
CKU’s Strategy for Culture and Development is a model of integration of culture in sustainable development frameworks (Goal 3 of the Convention) as well as of implementation of SDGs 4, 8, 16 and 17. The Strategy has provided financial and technical assistance programs in the culture field to developing countries contributing to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship (Target 4.4) as well as to promote creativity and innovation encouraging the formalization and growth of cultural micro and SMMEs (Target 8.3). It also ensured public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms (Target 16.7) demonstrating that a rights-based development perspective is particularly effective for cultural cooperation. Finally, CKU’s Strategy for Culture and Development enhanced international support to national plans implementing sustainable development goals in developing countries through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation (Target 17.9).