Valued at over $620 billion, the global trade in cultural goods and services has doubled over the past decade, demonstrating that culture is a powerful force for both economic and social development. Cultural goods and services are not just ordinary merchandises that generate jobs, income, innovation and growth, they also contribute to social inclusion and justice.
Inaugurated in Florence (Italy) today, UNESCO’s Third World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries (FOCUS), will examine how culture can contribute to a sustainable future by stimulating employment, growth and innovation. The Forum, which will close on 4 October, marks a decisive step in formulating the United Nations’ programme for sustainable development after 2015.
More than 300 public and private sector representatives from the world of culture are taking part in the event at the Palazzo Vecchio. It is co-organized by UNESCO, the Government of Itlay, the Region of Tuscany Region, and the Municipality of Florence.
“Culture is the petrol of countries that are rich in history and talent. In a global economy of knowledge, investing in culture represents a forward looking decision,” declared the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, at the opening of the Forum. “I believe countries must invest in culture with the same determination they bring to investing in energy resources, in new technologies. […] In a difficult economic environment, we must look for activities that reinforce social cohesion, and culture offers solutions in this regard,” she added.
The Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Dario Franceschini, the President of the Tuscany Region, Enrico Rossi, the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, alongside ministers and senior representatives of Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Indonesia, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar and Serbia, will share their perspectives with a view to adopting, at the end of their work, a “Florence Declaration.” The Declaration will propose effective ways to include culture in the post-2015 development agenda, which will be debated at the General Assembly of the United Nations next year.
A roundtable debate, held as a side event of the Forum on 3 October (5 to 6 p.m.), will focus on several recent cultural heritage preservation projects led by UNESCO in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Jordan and Mali with Italian Government funding. Ministers and senior representatives of those countries, alongside the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the experts who worked with UNESCO on implementing these projects, will take part in the debate.
The Forum is also hosting a photographic exhibition on 50 years of cooperation between UNESCO and Italy for the safeguarding of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage.
The two previous UNESCO World Forums on Culture and Cultural Industries took place in Monza (Italy) in 2009 and 2011.
More information on this World Forum
Mariangela Della Monica – Fondazione Sistema Toscana
Tel : +39 334 6606721
Lucía Iglesias Kuntz—UNESCO Press Service
Tel : +33 (0) 680240729