UNESCO’s Create|2030 Talks - Civil Society: An Actor of Change in the Governance of Culture
The importance of participative governance is no longer deniable. The true test of whether governance is open to civil society is the degree to which it is involved and has influence over setting and implementing policy agendas, including at the global level. Recent examples of how civil society organizations (CSOs) were actively involved in the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a case in point. They worked in coalitions across sectors and across countries to contribute to the drafting of its goals and targets and made support for participatory and representative decision making among the key targets in achieving peace, justice and strong institutions for sustainable development.
CSOs actively engaged as partners with States to develop and adopt UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. This partnership was formed at the height of debates on how expanding global trade regulations challenged the sovereign right of governments to formulate and implement cultural policies that would have potentially damaging repercussions on the cultural and creative industries. The result is a landmarked international standard setting instrument that defines the responsibility of civil society in the governance of culture and assigns them a central role in policy design and implementation processes.
Today, UNESCO works to ensure that there are spaces at the global and country levels to ensure that civil society voices are heard, and that CSOs actively contribute to cultural policy making. The goal is to ensure that public policies to support the cultural and creative sectors can meet the needs and challenges of its stakeholders.
The results of a recent survey show that progress is being made. Over 63% of CSOs reported that they contribute to national cultural policy consultations and that 70% of them feel that their organization can make a difference to the policy environment. Many CSOs do hold a strong sense of commitment to improving cultural governance and participating in policymaking processes. However, there is still work to be done. Many CSOs still feel that current legislation does not enable them to fully partner with state actors, and that cultural policymaking processes are not as transparent as they could be.