Investing in creativity in the Caribbean through UNESCO's 2005 Convention

Best known for its music scene and for being home to world stars such as Bob Marley, the queen of pop, Rihanna, and hip hop artist Nicki Minaj – the Caribbean region hosts a hive of cultural creativity bursting with new talents. 

Recognizing the Caribbean’s important creative contribution to the global creative economy and its potential to participate as an equal partner in the global flow of cultural goods and services, UNESCO is holding a specialized three-day forum between June 27-29 in Bridgetown, Barbados,  on how the region can better benefit from the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, now ratified by 143 countries and the European Union. 

The meeting, organized by the UNESCO Kingston Office with the support of national authorities from Barbados and the Barbados National Commission for UNESCO, will be opened by the Hon. Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth of Barbados, and attended by ministry officials, academics, cultural entrepreneurs and civil society representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. 

As outlined in UNESCO’s 2015 Global Report ”Re-shaping Cultural Policies”,  the trading in cultural goods is worth US $212 billion and the creative industries are the fastest growing sector in the world. In the Caribbean, the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement, signed in 2008, has helped in particular to put in practice the guiding principles of the 2005 Convention on preferential treatment, through market access and cultural cooperation provisions. But still, the bigger picture shows us that Caribbean exports of cultural goods total less than 1% of the global figure. In 2013, according to a recent UNESCO UIS report on the “Globalization of Cultural Trade”, small islands from the Caribbean represented only 0.02% (US$39.9 million).

Taking this on board, participants will gather to learn and debate how to strengthen cultural policy-making and how it can strengthen their creative industries. They will exchange on lessons learned to be shared with the global community in the context of quadrennial periodic reporting assessing the impact of the 2005 Convention, as well as on project design to benefit from theInternational Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD). The ultimate aim is to have better regional and international cooperation to build stronger sustainable systems of governance for culture and promote growth and employment. 

The discussions will kick-off with a presentation of UNESCO’s Global Report “Re-Shaping Cultural Policies” by Danielle Cliche, Secretary of the 2005 Convention and Chief of UNESCO’s Section for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The report tracks and analyses measures and policies implemented by Parties to the Convention to promote a balance in the trading in cultural goods and services, freedom of expression, gender equality and sustainable development. 

 ''The creative economy in the Caribbean region is rising fast and this is the right moment to discuss the challenges the key players face in talking next steps forward. We hope these discussions will contribute towards supporting ‘star quality’ home grown talents from the region, through support for creative entrepreneurship, investment, market development and distribution platforms”, Danielle Cliche says. 

The participants will identify innovative policies and measures which are working well, and assess the impact of IFCD funded projects that have been implemented so far in the region. The IFCD is supporting projects which empower creative professionals and have a long-term social and economic impact to transform societies. In the Caribbean region, the Fund has backed the promotion of music from Barbados to North American markets, developed cultural policies in Grenada, Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and helped with the mapping of the social and economic contribution of the cultural industries in Saint Lucia. 

Learning more about the need to place culture at the heart of sustainable development plans, in line with the United Nations 2030 Development Agenda, and the important role played by civil society in strengthening policy-making, will also be high on the agenda. 

In this context, Mrs Andrea King, Director of the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority, will present the achievements and impact of the landmark Cultural Industries Development Act, adopted in Barbados in 2013 as a result of the EU-funded UNESCO Expert Facility technical assistance


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Event date: 
27/06/2016 - 09:00 to 29/06/2016 - 18:00
Location: Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, Bridgetown, Barbados