The Tracker Culture & Public Policy

This monthly Tracker is produced by UNESCO to monitor the role of culture in public policy with regards to the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. It highlights developments within national and regional contexts, as well as emerging debates on culture's contribution to sustainable development. Drawing on a variety of sources, it provides a broad overview of cultural policy trends worldwide at the national, regional and international level and looks at ways in which countries integrate culture into other policy areas.

Issue 14 | Focus on Culture and Sustainable Development

The United Nations adopts a bold new Resolution on Culture for Sustainable Development, raising the profile of culture's impact for resilience and recovery; the historic inclusion of culture in a G20 Leaders' Declaration, the roll-out of the Culture|2030 Indicators... fresh inspiration has infused the global debate on culture's vital role as the bedrock of sustainable development. But this role remains underexplored.

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Issue 13 | Focus on Culture and Cities

Cities are a privileged ground for the exercise and recognition or cultural diversity, a critical endeavor in increasingly fragmented societies. Cities are also laboratories to harness culture to nurture societies' resilience and well being, and underpin environmental sustainability.

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Issue 12 | Focus on Culture and Social Cohesion

Social inclusion is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet culture remains under-utilised in fostering social cohesion. Cultural practices, sites and expression convey values and skills, conducive to social inclusion. Access to and participation in cultural life have long been appreciated as crucial elements in enhancing well-being and creating a sense of belonging.

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Issue 11 | Focus on Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity represents the deepest reservoir for creativity and innovation - and, therefore, for sustainable development - as the world faces great societal and environmental challenges. The Tracker offers insights as to how to harness this diversity for more resilient societies. It also features a special report on the Meeting of G20 Ministers of Culture and their landmark declaration strongly affirming the vital role of culture across the public policy spectrum. 

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Issue 10 | Focus on Culture and Youth

Today’s young people face unprecedented challenges: not only are they more likely to be unemployed, they also have to face some of the greatest challenges ever experienced by humanity. Young people are also the future guardians of our rich, diverse, heritage and dynamos for fresh ideas and creativity. Culture provides multiple responses to this gauntlet of challenges.

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Issue 9 | Focus on Culture and Education

Culture and education are critical pillars for human development. More than this, both are mutually beneficial, with synergies that offer crucial inroads to addressing complex challenges faced by societies. This is important in shaping COVID-19 recovery efforts, not only for regenerating the two damaged sectors, but for building solid and long-lasting public policies that better leverage the nexus between both development areas.

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Special Issue | A Year into COVID-19

One year of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and physical distancing measures have heavily impacted the culture sector. From closures of World Heritage sites and cultural institutions to the disruption of cultural events, COVID-19 has affected the livelihoods of tens of millions of people around the world. The damage to the sector has extended far beyond estimates, and will influence generations to come. 

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Issue 7 | Focus on Culture and Peacebuilding

Culture is a powerful force that bridges differences and brings people together, underpinning social cohesion, peace and security. Notwithstanding this unifying function, the past 20 years have witnessed a growing instrumentalization of culture for divisive purposes. This exploitation of culture has not only contributed to more protracted crises and relapses into conflict, but also the denial of human rights, including cultural rights.

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Issue 6 | Focus on Cultural Tourism

The tourism industry is a major casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in 2020 propelled a 74% drop in international arrivals and a US$1.3 trillion loss in global tourism revenues. Cultural tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the global tourism sector, with four out of ten tourists choosing their destination based on its cultural offer. In an ongoing context of uncertainty, governments around the world are identifying ways to deal with the devastating economic impact of the crisis and support resilient and inclusive recovery strategies for the future.

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Issue 5 | Focus on Culture and the Creative Economy

We launch this January issue against the backdrop of the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. The creative economy – powered by the cultural and creative industries – is worth some US$509 billion each year. But more than its economic value, the creative sector brings significant social and environmental weight to sustainable development. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, the cultural and creative industries are faced with enormous challenges the world over. 

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Issue 4 | Focus on Culture and Climate Change

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time and the role of culture in climate action has long been underestimated and underutilised. The cultural sector is already beginning to feel the negative impact of climate change. Yet, natural and cultural heritage, museums, living heritage, artists and the entire cultural sector represent an untapped wellspring of potential to enhance global action.

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Issue 3 | Focus on Culture and the Future of Work

The global shutdown has affected the cultural sector and those working within it: the ripple effects of the pandemic on employment has expanded far and wide. What solutions can culture bring to the world of work in transforming this crisis into a launch pad to a more resilient, fairer, and truly people-centred economic system of the future?

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Issue 2 | Focus on Culture and Digital Technologies

Digital technologies are shaping culture and how we relate to culture. From 3D satellite imagery of World Heritage sites to virtual reality museums to digital arts, they are having an impact on the cultural sector. This month's Tracker focuses on the consequences of these technologies across all areas of cultural policy, including for the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this month...

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Issue 1 | Focus on Culture and Multilateralism

Despite the continued state of turbulence in the cultural sector, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many developments in the past few months that have instigated a renewed dynamism in cultural policies...

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