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International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development

Why Creative Economy in 2021?

Today, more and more people are turning their ideas and imaginations into livelihoods. The creative economy is one of the world’s most rapidly growing sectors, contributing 3% of the global GDP. Creativity is also a renewable, sustainable, limitless resource that we can find anywhere around the world. As we face climate crisis and the pandemic, its potential to drive a human-centric, inclusive development has never been more relevant.
Creativity is the industry of tomorrow. The year 2021 was declared the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development at the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

The implementation of the Year is led by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in consultation with UNESCO and other relevant UN entities.
The International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development could not have come at a more relevant time. The COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed the creative economy. From creation, production, distribution to access, no actor within the creative value chain has been spared its impact. The health crisis also revealed and worsened the pre-existing vulnerabilities within the culture sector. Many artists and cultural professionals have been ineligible for social and economic assistances that saved workers in other sectors. While we consumed cultural content online more than ever before, artists and creators rarely received fair remuneration for our clicks and views.
But the health crisis also showed us how essential creativity is to our well-being – to our survival. In 2020, people found solace and resilience in films, series, music and dance. This heightened appreciation for the arts makes 2021 the opportune time in history to celebrate and invest in the creative economy.

Join us and unleash the power of creativity for a resilient tomorrow!


Creative Economy
accounts for



Cultural and
Creative Industries generate


billion USD

Culture sector


people worldwide

UNESCO’s Commitment

Creative economy is expansive, and its actors are diverse. At the heart of this dynamic economy are cultural and creative industries, which stand at the crossroad of arts, culture, commerce and technology. The sector generates 2,250 billion USD annually and provides more jobs to workers aged 18-25 than any other fields of employment.

As the only UN organisation with a specific mandate in culture, it is UNESCO’s role to highlight and amplify culture’s contribution to the global creative economy and sustainable development throughout 2021. Our advocacy and activities are founded on three principles.


Call for Action

We need a creative economy “ecosystem” that accommodates creators. Careers in the creative industry must be viable, and characterised by dignified working conditions, decent pay and growth opportunities. 

UNESCO calls on policymakers and global leaders to conduct an exhaustive policy review from employment, social security, digital adaption, intellectual property, to education and more. Data collection, industry workers consultation and gendered perspective can serve as a compass as we work together towards a truly inclusive, nurturing creative economy.

Everyone can join the celebration. Follow the easy steps listed in the UNESCO guide and show your support for creators and the creative economy!


 Major events


Celebrate the creative economy for sustainable development with us!

UNESCO celebration of the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development- 2021


In the framework of the fourteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions held online from 1 to 5 February 2021, UNESCO celebrated the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. Moderated by Ms. Fatima Wane, France 24 journalist, the event included messages from Mr. Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture on behalf of Ms. Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-General, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Ms. Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Sameh Wahba, Global Director for the World Bank's Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, and H. E. Mr. Iván Duque, President of Colombia


What UNESCO does for Creative Economy for Sustainable Development