The Ministers of Culture of the G20 group of the world's largest economies agreed on 30 July for the first time in history on a G20 Declaration on Culture that firmly positions culture as a major engine for sustainable socio-economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes five key priorities identified by the Italian Presidency on: the protection of cultural heritage; culture and climate change; culture and education; cultural and creative industries; and culture in the digital transformation.
Italy also took steps to permanently integrate culture into the G20, including by formalizing the Culture Working Group to build consensus among Members that contributes to the G20 Meeting of Ministers of Culture and the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government. This builds on the momentum following the historical move by Saudi Arabia to include culture on the G20 agenda in 2020. UNESCO has provided advice throughout the process. Alongside Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, opened the meeting. She also participated in the ministerial working sessions.
The Declaration - agreed in Rome, Italy, at the Colosseum, a UNESCO World Heritage site - will feed into the overall process of the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government, due to meet later this year. The inclusion of culture echoes the progressive broadening of the scope of the G20's discussions in recent years to a more global reflection on contemporary societal issues. It also demonstrates an increasing alignment of G20 priorities to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably by supporting inclusive and balanced growth patterns and expanding governance mechanisms to other stakeholders, such as inter-governmental organizations and civil society.
G20: Key Facts
The G20 was reinforced during the global financial crisis in 2008. It is, therefore, timely and relevant that culture has been included in response to another global crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Declaration on Culture recognises that culture has intrinsic value but also plays an essential role for the regeneration of our economies and our societies, which have been heavily affected by the pandemic. Not only does the Declaration send a clear political message, the Ministers of Culture agreed to a certain number of actionable points (see below).
The G20 Culture Declaration has the capacity to conjugate memory and vision.
Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy
With this G20 ministerial meeting, we are reinforcing a commitment to make culture central to one of the main forums for international cooperation. [...] We must improve the status of artists and their social protection, and address the unequal distribution of value between creators and digital platforms.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
Protecting culture, as UNESCO does, means contributing to international dialogue, to the recognition and respect for diversity.
Dario Franceschini, Minister of Culture of Italy
Priorities within the G20 Declaration on Culture
PRIORITY ONE: Protection of Cultural Heritage
During the meeting, G20 Ministers of Culture underscored the importance of cultural heritage for identity, social cohesion, peace and security. They also highlighted that culture has increasingly been brought to the frontlines of conflicts. The Ministers exchanged about transnational concerted actions, public-private collaborations, and coordinated research and action to face threats to cultural heritage. These threats include the looting and illicit trafficking of cultural and intellectual property, the destruction or misuse of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge of indigenous people, uncontrolled urban development, and environmental degradation and extreme natural events.
- Harmonise regulation and law enforcement to combat illicit trafficking of cultural property
- Establish a new Italian Task Force to protect cultural heritage in emergency situations, upon the invitation of UNESCO
PRIORITY TWO: culture and the climate crisis
The G20 Ministers of Culture expressed their concern about the increased frequency and intensity of hazardous events linked to climate change and their impact on culture and cultural heritage. They also acknowledged that culture - including intangible and tangible cultural heritage, creativity, indigenous peoples’ languages and knowledge systems - offer great potential to drive forward climate action. They welcaomed the ongoing efforts of all relevant intergovernmental organizations – including UNESCO - in anchoring culture more firmly within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Strengthen the place of culture in climate action on the global agenda
- Adapt and implement international climate change impact guidelines for the preservation of cultural heritage
PRIORITY THREE: Culture and Education
The G20 Ministers of Culture discussed the synergies between culture and education in bridging current gaps and building new skills and capabilities. They emphasized the need to mainstream cultural education and training across disciplines and sectors. Investing in education, training and awareness-raising to foster job creation, especially for youth, was singled out. They also recognised the role of heritage education, museums, libraries, archives, conservation institutes, universities, indigenous communities, as well as other cultural institutions and cultural heritage sites to boost learning, by fostering innovation and inter-sectoral convergence across science, technology, the art and humanities.
Prioritise investment in technical and vocational training in culture-related employment – both in formal and non-formal contexts – to adapt labour skills for the digital and ecological transition
PRIORITY FOUR: Creative Industries
Cultural and creative industries generate spillovers into the wider economy, being a source of creative skills, leveraging growth and innovation in other policy areas. The G20 Ministers of Culture also acknowledged the social impact of the cultural and creative sectors in increasing well-being, as well as promoting social inclusion, gender equality and driving transformation towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns. The Ministers agreed on the need to adapt policies on employment, social protection, innovation and entrepreneurship to the specific characteristics of the sector, supporting cultural professionals in COVID-19 recovery strategies and enabling a flourishing and sustainable creative sector.
Adapt public support schemes and regulatory frameworks to strengthen the rights and working conditions of artists and cultural professionals – on and offline – ensuring fair remuneration for a more resilient ecosystem
PRIORITY FIVE: Digital Transition for Culture
The ministerial discussion focused on the increasing importance of the digital environment in promoting diversity and inclusion, fostering cross-cultural knowledge production and transfer, as well as the development of global cultural markets. The G20 Ministers of Culture highlighted the need for cooperation to overcome the digital divide - accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic - to ensure universal access to culture through digital tools, supported by media and information literacy training. Strengthening research, knowledge-sharing and political engagement was also underscored as a priority to create a safe digital ecosystem to fight disinformation and hate speech online. Furthermore, the promotion of diverse linguistic and cultural content, the fair remuneration of creators and the protection of freedom of expression were also highlighted.
- Strengthen access to culture online
- Protect caultural and linguistic diversity of online content, in particular through the regulation of the digital environment