Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Brazil

Brazil has a remarkable creative diversity of cultural expressions. Its cultural diversity can be a central issue for the development of projects in the country, especially focusing on Indigenous People and Afro-descents.

Areas like traditional crafts, small manufacturers, fashion and design are strategic areas for Brazil, given their capacity to improve the living conditions of the poorer people. It can bring individual empowerment and can contribute to poverty reduction.

In facing social inequality, the country has been discovering the strong influence of culture in shaping this context, as well as its potential for social transformation of the current scenario. However, there is still room for developing a deeper cultural approach to Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendants in Brazil. Although they are groups with low social indicators, they have an exuberant wealth of cultural expressions that must be recognized and valued.

Special attention is necessary regarding the preservation and acknowledgement of Brazilian culture in the following aspects, for example:

  • the value of popular and indigenous traditions, art, customs, and expressions;
  • the recognition of the influence of African culture on Brazilian culture and history;
  • the preservation of endangered languages;
  • the value of traditional knowledge about nature;
  • the sustainable use of natural reserves and investments in infrastructure;
  • the affirmation of human rights;
  • the fight against discrimination.

Convention on Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions

In 2007, Brazil ratified the UNESCO Convention on Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions, approved by the UNESCO General Conference in 2005. The Convention is a legal instrument that guides the Organization in elaborating concepts, goals, and policies in favour of cultural diversity with an emphasis on pluralism, on a dialogue between cultures and their various beliefs, and on development policies.

Through this historic agreement, the global community formally recognized the dual nature, both cultural and economic, of contemporary cultural expressions produced by artists and cultural professionals. Shaping the design and implementation of policies and measures that support the creation, production, distribution of and access to cultural goods and services, the 2005 Convention is at the heart of the creative economy.

Recognizing the sovereign right of States to maintain, adopt and implement policies to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expression, both nationally and internationally, the 2005 Convention supports governments and civil society in finding policy solutions for emerging challenges.

The 2005 Convention aims to support national policies and measures to promote creation, production, distribution and access with regard to diverse cultural goods and services and to contribute to informed, transparent and participatory systems of governance for culture.

Preservation of Indigenous Cultures

Indigenous cultures possess a wealth of knowledge essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and preserving the world's environment and biodiversity. UNESCO has worked to safeguard intangible heritage, involving the traditional knowledge of these peoples, and raise awareness of its importance through programs that support governments in creating essential interfaces between scientists and indigenous communities.

The disappearance of indigenous languages is a significant threat to indigenous communities, their unique heritage and global diversity, and their potential for creativity and innovation.

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Linguistic Diversity

Linguistic diversity and multilingualism are essential for sustainable development. Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. One language disappears on average every two weeks, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.

Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with a growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

Languages and Education

UNESCO promotes mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual approaches in education - an important factor for inclusion and equality. Research shows this has a positive impact on learning and learning outcomes. The Organization provides normative frameworks for language policy and education and shares good practices in bilingual and multilingual education and mother-tongue instruction.

Languages and Communication

Increasingly, information and knowledge are key determinants of wealth creation, social transformation and human development. Language is a primary vector for communicating information and knowledge, thus the opportunity to use one’s language on the Internet will determine the extent to which one can participate in emerging knowledge societies.

Languages and Culture

Constituting an essential part of an ethnic community, the mother language is a carrier of values and knowledge, often used in the practice and transmission of intangible cultural heritage. The spoken word in the mother language is important in the enactment and transmission of virtually all intangible heritage, especially in oral traditions and expressions, songs and most rituals. Using their mother tongue, bearers of specific traditions often use highly specialized sets of terms and expressions, which reveal the intrinsic depth of oneness between the mother tongue and the intangible cultural heritage.

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