High-level experts reflect on the measurement of culture in the SDGs

13 December 2017

An Expert Workshop on Measuring Culture in the SDGs was held at UNESCO Headquarters from 7 to 8 September 2017. The workshop offered an opportunity to reflect on and propose a measurement system to assess the contribution of culture to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The measurement system would target policies, programmes and activities undertaken by national or local authorities in line with UNESCO’s mandate, thematic priorities and normative tools in the field of culture. 

The workshop, chaired by Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, gathered 43 high-level participants from around the world and from a wide range of disciplines. They included individual experts and academics specialized in the measurement of culture, experts from international organizations who have been involved in the development of measurement systems for culture, such as the World Bank, Eurostat, OECD, UN-Habitat and ICOMOS, as well as national representatives and colleagues from UNESCO Field Offices and Headquarters.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda, as well as the New Urban Agenda, represents a unique opportunity to reflect on existing approaches to measuring the contribution of culture to development and assess the need for alternative frameworks. In the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets (SDGs), culture is explicitly referenced in Target 11.4, ‘Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.’

After reviewing the UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS) and other well-recognized approaches to measuring culture, the experts agreed on objectives and means of measuring culture in the SDGs, including

o   to illustrate the impact of culture in the implementation of the SDGs;

o   to strengthen advocacy for culture in Agenda 2030;

o   to provide further evidence to support the integration of culture into national development policies and programs as well as urban development.