Ugandan cultural experts usher in new era of cultural policies for sustainable development

 

UNESCO mobilized a national cultural policy-monitoring team in Kampala to plan how to employ a participatory, inter-ministerial approach in reviewing the progress and challenges faced by Uganda in implementating the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression.

A new push for Ugandan contemporary arts and culture is under way. On 12 September 2019, twenty-four cultural professionals gathered in Kampala to plan for the public launch of the UNESCO project “Reshaping cultural policies for the promotion of fundamental freedoms and the diversity of cultural expressions,” which is funded by the Swedish government (SIDA) and will run through 2021. Uganda was selected as a beneficiary country in 2018, along with fifteen other countries, for this major global cultural-policy project in support of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention.

“Culture has an economic and cultural dimension – it provides jobs and revenue, drives innovation and sustainable economic growth,” said Ms. Rosie Agoi, Secretary-General of the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO. “At the same time, culture conveys identities and values, fostering social inclusion and a sense of belonging. This project will give Uganda an excellent platform for review and reflection,” she added.

The participants, representing various visions for the development of Uganda’s creative sector, were officially appointed by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development as the National Team for the project, and were tasked with examining the state of cultural policies and the future of the creative sectors throughout this multi-year project. The members include representatives from the Ministries of Trade, Culture, Foreign Affairs, Finance and ICT, as well as civil society and federations of the creative industries. The Team, with support of ministries and Uganda National Commission for UNESCO, will lead the preparation of Uganda’s quadrennial periodic report, which is an obligatory report detailing the country’s efforts to implement the UNESCO 2005 Convention, due in April 2020.

During the consultation meeting on 12 September, the national team deepened their knowledge about the UNESCO 2005 Convention and its four goals – strengthening governance for culture, improving the mobility of artists, integrating culture in sustainable development, and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms – which will guide and help structure the Team’s monitoring work. These goals are closely linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The occasion of this meeting also celebrated the vibrancy of the Ugandan creative industries today,” said Ms. Judy Ogana, National Officer for Culture at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi. “Since Uganda’s ratification of the 2005 Convention in 2015, the country has made great strides in fostering and encouraging national talents through cultural policies and measures,” she added.

The SIDA project in Uganda is being coordinated by UNESCO’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and the Ugandan National Commission for UNESCO. A national launch and multi-stakeholder consultation meeting for the project is scheduled to take place in Kampala, in October 2019.