Group of Friends Coalition on Culture for Sustainable Development convened in New York


On 17 July 2018, a high-level business breakfast was organized by UNESCO and the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations on the sidelines of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Echoing the theme of the Forum “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies” the breakfast brought together the Group of Friends of Culture and Development, a coalition of some 30 countries created as a pioneering mechanism in 2013 to promote the importance of culture for sustainable development.

Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations and Chair of the Group of Friends of Culture and Development, opened the event.  He reaffirmed the growing role of cities as strategic entry points for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in particular SDG11 on “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, the focus of this year’s Forum.

José Tonato, Minister of Life Environment and Sustainable Development of Benin, stressed that culture is the « backbone » of sustainable development, while Mezha El Ouafi, Minister of Sustainable Development of Morocco, said that culture is the transversal construct for sustainable societies.

Ernesto Ottone, Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, along with Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Science of UNESCO, highlighted thatadvocacy efforts should be further strengthened and supported by Member States and international partners to give a stronger voice to a culture-empowered vision of development”.

This was also the occasion for the launch of the UNESCO BrochureCulture for the 2030 Agenda”, which highlights culture’s essential contribution to sustainable development across a broad spectrum of areas of action and impact through a collection of case studies.  It also reflects the diverse ways in which Member States are advancing the role of culture for sustainable development through their national policies. The inspiring examples demonstrate that culture and creativity drive and enable transformation at the local and national levels in a wide variety of contexts and contribute to the attainment of the sustainable development goals.

The Group of Friends spearheaded the global advocacy, which contributed to the integration of culture in the 2030 Agenda.  It also supported UNESCO’s work on the ground by engaging UN decision-making bodies such as the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC in the common goal of advancing role of culture for sustainable development, which has led to the adoption of six UN Resolutions on culture and development.  At this event, the Group of Friends, along with other participating ministers and stakeholders, renewed their commitment to leverage culture and creativity to shape people-centered and inclusive societies, and discussed future advocacy actions, including broadening the scope of the coalition.