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Culture and ICT as drivers of sustainable development

UNESCO has long advocated and demonstrated that culture, in its diverse manifestations - from tangible and intangible cultural heritage to cultural and creative industries - is a driver and enabler of the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.

In this context, ICT, insofar as they have a direct impact on the way cultural expressions are created, produced, disseminated and accessed and play an increasingly pertinent role in the safeguarding and transmission of cultural heritage, can respond to major global challenges through the exercise of freedom of expression and the promotion cultural diversity.

In the framework of the 2015 WSIS Forum a discussion panel on Action Line 8 “Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content” debated questions on how are ICTs fostering cultural entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative industries, notably in developing countries and at the local level, how are new forms of media and technologies strengthening platforms for dialogue, exchange and building capacities of local populations to overcome the challenges faced by communities worldwide.

“In Africa ICTs allow a greater access to cultural goods and services but beyond access and distribution, they allow creators to engage with the audience, to co-create, and to connect with the diaspora” said Silja Fischer, Secretary General of International Music Council.

The session explored possible measures that should be taken to strengthen policies and strategies to promote the diversity of cultural expressions, cultural and creative industries, and to  safeguard cultural heritage via ICTs, including for more efficient documentation, protection, transmission, and accessibility, and discussed policies and strategies that should be put in place to generate social and economic development in view of the new modes of creation, production, dissemination and consumption of cultural goods and services by and for youth in the digital age.

Main outcomes of the session stressed that:

  • ICTs are progressively more incorporated into the cultural and creative sectors. Even though accessibility by all remains an important challenge, developing countries are using ICTs for cultural content, creation, access, and distribution, and there are positive innovative models that are context specific.
  • People are what is driving development models, creativity and innovation, but governments must put in place national policies and infrastructure that will foster the diversity of cultural expressions and close the digital divide and keep up with new advancements.
  • There are increasing initiatives in digitization of cultural content and heritage which help preserve this content for future generations (eg. digital libraries and museums) and which also allow marginalized groups to be engaged, share knowledge (also traditional knowledge) and foster social cohesion.

More information on the Forum: