As a fundamental aspect of human expression, culture inherently influences the very fabric of our societies. Yet, despite its pervasive impact, it has struggled to secure a dedicated space within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With no explicit mention of culture in the UN 2030 Agenda, opportunities to mobilise the cultural sector, to draw on its reach, insights and energy to accelerate development are being overlooked. Culture Action Europe, as part of the #Culture2030Goal campaign which unites a group of global cultural networks, presented a zero-draft of a potential future development goal focused on culture during its recent online meeting with members that you can re-watch here.
During the webinar Looking ahead: Culture in Sustainable Development in 2024 and Beyond held on January 23, Jordi Pascual (UCLG – Agenda21 for Culture) in conversation with Lars Ebert (CAE) discussed the importance of recognising culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. Emphasizing key milestones and future hurdles of the #Culture2030goal campaign, the session spotlighted the UN Summit of the Future scheduled for September 2024 as one of the most important upcoming appointments. Alongside the European elections 2024, this event represents a pivotal opportunity to concretely frame culture as a goal for the next agenda.
Paola Leoncini, Director for cultural policies and development at UNESCO, shed light on the role of the agency in prominent global platforms such as G20, G7, and Mondiacult 2022, during which it contributed to the inclusion of culture in significant reports as the Rome Declaration of the G20 and the Emirates Declaration on Cultural-based Climate Action, whose outcomes affect the political agendas of major countries. Overall, the need for reinforced civil society’s robust engagement in advocacy efforts was mainly underscored. The contribution of Alexandra Xanthaki, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, brought attention to persisting challenges, acknowledging that despite progress, many states are still reluctant to include culture in their agendas. Xanthaki stressed the necessity of continued efforts, particularly in the SDGs forum, calling out for the joint efforts of our networks.
Concerns have arisen regarding the published Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future ahead of the UN Summit of the Future, lacking the mention of culture largely in contrast with our campaign’s objectives. Despite widespread acknowledgment of culture’s significance, the initial draft fails to adequately address its importance, potentially perpetuating conventional approaches and impeding progress. Read our dedicated update to gain deeper insights into the issue.
In the coming years, the integration of a stand-alone culture goal into the global agenda remains a main objective. The central challenge lies not in debating “if” but in clarifying precisely “how” the culture goal will look like. In hindsight, the absence of culture on the global agenda was, in part, a consequence of the perception that cultural actors operated in isolation. However, our efforts have fundamentally transformed this narrative. United for a common cause, we can contribute more effectively to the future developments of global policies, giving to the cultural dimension the stage it deserves.
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