Building peace in the minds of men and women

At the UN General Assembly, Culture takes Centre Stage in the 2015 Development Agenda

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture Ministers called for the integration of culture in the post-2015 global agenda for development, in the context of the thematic debate organized at the initiative of the President of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Vuk Jeremic.

“We need to fully acknowledge the power of culture, as we shape a new global agenda to follow 2015. No society can flourish without culture and there can be no sustainable development without it”, declared Director-General Irina Bokova.

Addressing an audience of some 250 attendees, Irina Bokova called for the integration of culture in the post-2015 global development agenda, noting that culture was largely forgotten from the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. Ministers took turns to underscore that since then much has changed and provided evidence from their own countries to showcase the impact of culture on economic growth, social inclusion, equality and sustainable development.

Experiences shared by the Ministers and high government officials of Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Guyana, Jamaica, Morocco, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, and Trinidad and Tobago focused on a wide range of areas, showcasing culture as an agent for change and a driver for development -- ranging from cultural industries; infrastructures; tourism; cultural heritage; sustaining oral traditions; preserving languages; countering youth violence; developing arts education and innovation; sustaining critical and creative thinking; fostering peaceful coexistence in growing multicultural societies and in national unity processes.

The UN General Assembly debate was followed by an informal ministerial session, targeting specific focus areas that deserve to be addressed in the forthcoming high-level deliberations leading to the definition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On the same day, the Director-General met with the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs during a working breakfast hosted by the Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN, co-chair of the OWG on the SDGs. This occasion was designed to discuss key targets in Education and Culture. Members referred to UNDP’s MDG accelerating framework in relation to Education for All, while underscoring the need to integrate quality education and devote adequate attention to learning outcomes. Members agreed also to set up an Action Group tasked with defining ways and means to reflect culture as an enabler of sustainability in the global development agenda.

“As we make a last big push and as we define the contours of a post-2015 development agenda, it is not enough to set global targets for all – we need to adapt to each context. Too many well-intended development programmes have failed, because they did not take cultural settings into account. We must identify new models of participation. Culture is at the top of this agenda”, concluded the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his address to the UN General Assembly.