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UNGA, UNESCO Organize Debate on Culture and Development

UNGA12 June 2013: The UN General Assembly (UNGA), in partnership with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), organized a thematic debate on Culture and Development during which speakers tied the themes to the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggested that as Member States "define the contours of a post-2015 development agenda," they should ask two questions: what have we learnt since 2000?; and what must we do better? He noted that there is no “one-size-fits-all” development model, and cultural settings should be taken into account. He said, "culture is now widely recognized as an enabler of sustainability, especially when a people-centred approach is integrated into development and peace-building," and therefore the UNGA thematic debate on Culture and Development would be important for the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) review in September, which will take place during a special UNGA event.

In his statement at the opening of the event, UNGA President Vuk Jeremić recalled that, one year ago, Rio+20 adopted the 'Future We Want' document, in which for the "first time in history, Member States agreed to comprehensively integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development—namely economic, social, and environmental—into a single, fully coherent whole." He noted that the agreement gave the UNGA a mandate to craft "a new, ambitious universal framework that will define much of the UN's work for decades to come," and highlighted that fewer than 1,000 days remain to carry out these assignments, including developing and adopting the SDGs, designing options for financing them, and creating an arrangement to monitor their implementation. Jeremić said he thinks "that the significance of the nexus between culture and development for the post-2015 agenda is not yet fully grasped," and that "creating solid and durable bridges between humanity's cultures will help overcome many of the differences which manifestly stand in the way of moving decisively forward—as one diverse, yet unified family of nations—in the quest to achieve universal sustainability." He called on Member States to prioritize the post-2015 agenda, and said "Its full implementation, in my view, may help draw the world's cultures closer together, enabling them to grow increasingly secure with each other."

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova highlighted that “Cultural diversity is also a source to find creative solutions to problems. It enhances critical thinking to challenge old models,” and she encouraged participants to “fully acknowledge this power of culture today as we shape a new global agenda to follow 2015.”

The event included interactive panel discussions on “The nexus between culture and development” and “What role for culture in the post-2015 framework?” [Meeting Summary] [UN News Release] [UN Secretary-General's Statement] [UNGA President's Statement] [UNESCO Press Release] [Draft Programme]