Creativity in the digital space at the heart of global discussion

The 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) took place at UNESCO’s Headquarters from 11 to 14 February 2020.

The impact of digital technologies and online platforms on culture was a recurring topic throughout the Committee. Member States shared new initiatives in cultural governance that encourage creativity and distribution online. Recognizing the growing threats posed by such new tools and their effect on the cultural sector, the Committee discussed progress on the pioneering digital roadmap for implementation of the Convention, which charts the national policies and measures for the creative industries in the digital environment. 

The Committee approved Nine projects to receive support from the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD). The Fund, now in its 10th year, was established to boost emerging, dynamic creative sectors in developing countries. This year, projects in Argentina, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Mexico, Mozambique, South Africa, Turkey and Viet Nam were selected from 480 proposals. With the announcement of the latest winners, the list of IFCD beneficiaries reaches 114 projects in 59 developing countries, totaling over $7.5 million in funding. 

Create|2030, a series of interactive talks on how investments in creativity can contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, animated the floor. The Create|2030 session “10 years of creativity: The long-term impact of IFCD investments” celebrated the anniversary of International Funds for Cultural Diversity (IFCD), and the session “Diversity of content: Discovering diverse creative content in the digital environment,” whose panelists represented unique online platforms for cultural content such as music, books and films, addressed challenges and opportunities presented by the digital revolution in culture, especially in the global south.

The Committee also served as a valuable space for co-learning and networking among policymakers. Beneficiaries of the Swedish-funded project Reshaping Cultural Policies for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the EU-funded Supporting new regulatory frameworks to strengthen the cultural and creative industries and promote South-South cooperation, totaling 23 countries (as of 14 February 2020) shared their progress, challenges and future endeavors during side events dedicated to each project. Many expressed that the knowledge and practical skills gained through these UNESCO initiatives have contributed to the improvement of their creative value chain: creation, production, dissemination and appreciation.

Support for artists and cultural industries was also highlighted. On 13 February, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, announced the ten winners of the UNESCO-Nara Residency for Young African Female Filmmakers. In the spirit of the 2005 Convention, the Director-General said “It is important to support the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, put forth new ideas and emotions, and make sure that women as creators contribute to a necessary global dialogue for peace, culture and development.” In the framework of the Committee session, the laureate film for the “Cultural Diversity Award” at the 2019 Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Rona, Azim’s Mother, was screened, serving as an example of the diversity of cultural expressions told through the art of cinema. The important milestone of the 1980 Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist, adopted 40 years ago to improve the professional, social and economic status of artists, was discussed in light of the right of artists to be organized in trade unions or professional organizations that can represent and defend the interests of their members.

Throughout the Committee, Parties to the Convention acknowledged that the cultural and creative industries are increasingly gaining recognition as a driver of sustainable development in their respective countries. Policymakers, civil society organizations, public sector and UNESCO Chairs also expressed their desire to work together for a more holistic cultural management.