Various approaches to integrate culture in sustainable development policies
Few entities explicitly state that they will integrate Culture in sustainable development policies; however several entities – an increasing number – actually do so, albeit in an indirect and non-official manner. The constant issues raised include concerns with the environment, job creation, articulation between areas and resource enhancement, and integrated development of the territory. In various sectors, programmes are developed by public entities, municipalities, foundations or civil society associations, in which the cultural and artistic component is considered to be fundamental, in order to foster sustainable development of the region. Artistic and cultural training is increasingly considered to constitute an investment that may lead to increased quality of work presented by cultural agents, and increase strengths and exchanges of experiences with other agents within the respective specific training area, thus endowing participants with technical and artistic capacities that will enable them to develop projects with higher levels of quality and performance.
Within the heritage sector, publicly-owned monuments have developed initiatives in the framework of support for cultural creation, in order to increase the attractiveness of heritage buildings, promote sustainable development through job creation, strengthen cultural tourism networks, secure local populations, and provide indirect support for complementary productive activities. For example, the Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs of the North develops projects which aim to integrate culture in sustainable development policies, such as environmental education, publicise the cultural and landscape diversity of the North region via dissemination of the life and work of writers. The High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue considers, from the perspective of respect and valorization of the diversity of cultures and cultural expression, that these factors constitute an essential condition for the social cohesion and sustainability of a democratic and plural society, and all the initiatives developed by this organisation is guided by this objective.
Various approaches are adopted by municipalities. In Oporto Municipal Council, culture, education and social action are concentrated within a single department (Department of Knowledge and Social Cohesion) thus demonstrating the strategic vision of culture as an area of transversal activity, articulated with education and social action, in order to foster sustainable development. In Almada, which shares affirmation of Culture as the “4th pillar” of sustainable development and recognises its importance in the construction of a stronger and more participative local authority, as an indispensable condition for governability and consolidation of democratic systems37, cultural development is seen as a pre-requisite and objective for integrated development of the territory, preservation of the collective memory, strengthening of local identity and promoting cultural diversity. There is a strong connection between the Culture area and the Urban and Territorial Planning Area, aiming to foster the best possible conditions for exercise of public life and participation of citizens in taking decisions aimed at strengthening the local development strategy. Culture is viewed as a core structuring element for integral development of the individual and an essential condition for participation and active exercise of citizenship, as well as a means of attaining freedom and social and economic progress. The municipality believes that cultural diversity should be valued from a perspective of dialogue and the encounter between different cultures, different cultural languages and ways of thinking, thus creating conditions for tolerance, diversity of social and cultural behaviour that enable permanent enrichment of societies and discoveries of new forms of community living. This rationale has led to investments in the creation of municipal networks of school libraries and public libraries, museums, cultural and sporting facilities, company incubators, spaces that intend to provide support for innovative business initiatives (e.g. the Quarteirão das Artes / Arts Block project) which, due to their characteristics, require less conventional work spaces, specifically in the areas of culture, fine and visual arts, workshops and handicrafts, video and audiovisual productions, design, amongst others.