The Culture-Development Nexus

Culture was long regarded as being on the margins of the development process or listed lower down the hierarchy of needs but there has been a growing recognition in recent years of just how crucial culture is to humanity’s development and well-being. Culture is increasingly understood as a resource for economic and social development. When poor communities preserve and develop their cultural assets, they are also generating new economic opportunities.

Culture, in all its dimensions, is a fundamental component of sustainable development. As a sector of activity, through tangible and intangible heritage, creative industries and various forms of artistic expressions, culture is a powerful contributor to economic development, social stability and environmental protection. Culture can contribute to the MDGs by helping to build strong, self-reliant communities.

Culture determines the way societies and economies function and is therefore crucial to the success of any development effort. Culture is an essential investment for peace and stability, and is a prerequisite for the success of human development. A more visible and effective inclusion of culture in development programmes at local, national, and international levels is critical for sustainable development.

Cultural projects fostering integration and social cohesion in developing countries. In addition to providing support for various cultural programmes and exchanges, it is thus also necessary to take the cultural dimension into account in development processes and to promote in-depth local, national, regional and continental inter-cultural dialogue.

Culture is a determining factor for the relevance, failure and success of development interventions. Efficient programming cannot anymore ignore that cultural diversity is a reality and an engine for development; furthermore respecting and promoting cultural diversity is also part of an international commitment, as highlighted in the 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in the related Conventions.

In its mainstreaming sense, culture is defined by specific values, traditions and behavioural patterns that need to be considered in all sectors of development. Specific values, traditions and behavioural patterns need to be considered in all sectors of development when working with partner countries.

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