G20 urged to show cultural strength is about overcoming divisions in the world

Paris Peace Forum hears how culture unlocks value for the globe

The venue for the Paris Peace Forum. November 11, 2022.  Bloomberg
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Countries of the G20 nations have been urged to resolve differences over a declaration that would declare culture a “global public good” when the summit gathers for its annual leaders meeting later this year.

Ernesto Ottone, assistant director general for culture at Unesco, told a forum in Paris on Friday that an agreed common roadmap to strengthen public cultural policies would cascade benefits to G20 members and bolster the sector under the UN's 2030 global goals programme. So far attempts to seal agreement at the Bali meeting of the biggest economies next week are floundering.

Addressing the Paris Peace Forum, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi said that the economic benefits of strengthening protections for cultural activity was immense.

"The statistical framework that we adopted in the United Arab Emirates for the creative industries [means] every year we're going to count and understand how creative industries are impacting the economy," she said. "Culture is not just something nice to have.

"The first statistical framework showed that creative industry contributed more than education and health in the UAE.

"This is truly important and what's more important is the small and medium businesses and at the pinnacle of all of that are the freelancers. So how can I protect the freelance for what they're doing in those creative industries?"

The minister said that the value system built within cultures is key to identify and discover the tangible and intangible benefits of a country's heritage. "What is your language," she said. "What's the language of your ancestors? That is a kind of a connection. That identity is not just the past, it's also the present and also the future.

"Therefore culture is a vibrant portal that helps us define ourselves.""

Unesco and the UAE are deepening their co-operation in the arts and creative industries through new programmes hosted in the country.

Mr Odone said last September 150 states adopted a global declaration that affirmed cultural progress, but that recovery from setbacks following the pandemic and crisis in Europe contributed to a mixed picture. Hence the need for the G20 resolution.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 2:53 PM