Florence, 2 October. The third edition of the UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries took place in a crowded hall under the painted ceilings of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (Italy), in the presence of numerous ministers and experts from the creative economy.
This Forum was organized by UNESCO in cooperation with Italy, and was timed at the same time as the opening of negotiations between UN Member States on the new global sustainable development programme to be adopted in 2015.
"UNESCO Member States expressed their determination to integrate culture as a driver and enabler of sustainable development. The post-2015 agenda is a historic opportunity not to be missed," said the Director-General in opening the Forum.
Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, underlined the economic power of the cultural sector, recalling that "the value of a thread, a book, a heritage, cannot be limited to the money it generates, but to the link it creates, the values it transmits, and this is what is at stake today."
"This is a great day for Florence, a World Heritage Site, a status that is not just a title but a feeling experienced by everyone in this city, in Italy, the only European country that has an article dedicated to culture -- Article 9," said Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence. "The economic crisis is primarily a cultural crisis, and before talking about the budget deficit, I would like to talk about the cultural deficit, about education, and peace," he added.
The representative of the Tuscany region, Sara Nocentini, said: "Tuscany, a huge depository of cultural heritage has invested in culture as a force for inclusion and development, but this is also a fragile capital in need of help and support . "
Mario Giro, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, called for the creation of a group of countries that are most involved in culture, on the lines of the G8 or G20, emphasizing the need to open our eyes to violence against men and women, which also targets culture in Iraq, Syria -- " The significance of this forum is to say that culture is life," he declared.
Several Ministers stood witness to the potential of culture, including Olga Kefalogianni (Greece) and Ms. Elga Pangesu (Indonesia), as well as representatives from Jordan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Mali and Togo.
"The creative economy is the fourth stage of development -- after agriculture, industry, and information technology," said the Minister of Indonesia, taking the example of the development of Batik craft, that went out of fashion 10 years ago, and that has been supported and developed as a dynamic fashion industry at the international level today.
During the Forum, the Director-General also held bilateral meetings with the Vice-Minister of Culture of Myanmar, Daw Khin Sanda and Elga Pangesu, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia.
The Forum will last three days and will lead to the Declaration of Florence -- a new stage of international advocacy to place culture at the heart of public strategies and policies for sustainable development.
Late Thursday afternoon, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, was lit in the colors of the United Nations.