CDIS in Brief

The Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS) is an advocacy and policy tool that assesses the multidimensional role of culture in development processes through facts and figures.

Covering 7 key policy dimensions, the 22 CDIS indicators:  

  • Demonstrate with data how culture and development interact and enrich one another;
  • Assess the environment in place for sustaining and enhancing cultural assets and processes for development; and
  • Offer a global overview of national challenges and opportunities, informing cultural policies and development strategies to fully profit from culture’s potential.


The CDIS establishes a common ground for culture and development actors to better integrate culture in development policies and strategies. CDIS methodology generates new data and builds capacities at the national level for:

  • Strengthening national statistic and information systems on culture and development;
  • Informing cultural policies for development;
  • Positioning culture in national and international development strategies and agendas;
  • Enriching the CDIS Global Database, the first international culture for development database.


The CDIS is a response to concrete national needs in a favorable international context.

The role of culture in development is today recognized not only by the culture community but also increasingly acknowledged by the development community. References to the importance of culture both as a driver and enabler for sustainable development have been included in recent major documents that chart the path for a renewed development agenda, including the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the first legally-binding international agreement putting the integration of culture into sustainable development at its core, and the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions 65/1 and 65/166 (2010).  In spite of this promising environment, the difficulties encountered to date in quantifying the contribution of culture have contributed to its marginalization in national and international development strategies. UNESCO, more specifically the Secretariat of the 2005 Convention, has developed the CDIS in response to this challenge.

The CDIS has been conceived as a pragmatic and effective tool that guides the construction and analysis of indicators for policy purposes in low and middle-income countries. It offers an opportunity to strengthen the case for culture’s inclusion in development strategies and agendas as it provides an empirical demonstration of culture’s contribution to sustainable development, economic growth and social progress. The CDIS thus facilitates the operationalization of the 2005 Convention and the UN Resolutions on Culture and Development.

The CDIS fills a critical gap as the new data and knowledge generated contributes vital information when advocating for the importance of culture’s role within the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development after 2015.

CDIS Methodology was developed thanks to the financial support of
Government of Spain

Contact us


Section for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CLT/CRE/DCE)

7 place Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP - France

email: cdis@unesco.org