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World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2024: Celebrating Unity in Diversity

On May 21st, the world celebrates the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. This important day, designated by UNESCO, aims to highlight the richness of global cultures and the vital role of intercultural dialogue in achieving peace and sustainable development.

A Day to Promote Peace and Understanding

The World Day for Cultural Diversity reminds us that 89% of all current conflicts in the world occur in countries with low levels of intercultural dialogue. To forge effective cooperation and sustain peace, strengthening intercultural dialogue must be a priority.

Culture: A Powerful Engine of Development

According to UNESCO data, the cultural and creative sector is a powerful driver of development worldwide. It accounts for more than 48 million jobs globally, with almost half held by women, representing 6.2% of all existing employment and 3.1% of global GDP. Remarkably, it is the sector that employs and provides opportunities for the largest number of young people under the age of 30.

Integrating Culture into Development Agenda

Despite its significant contributions, the cultural and creative sector often lacks the deserved recognition in public policies and international cooperation. In September 2022, delegations from 150 states gathered in Mexico for MONDIACULT 2022, the largest world conference devoted to culture in the last 40 years. They unanimously adopted the historic Declaration for Culture, affirming culture as a “global public good” and calling for its integration as a specific goal in the development agenda beyond 2030.

The declaration defines a set of cultural rights that need to be considered in public policies, ranging from the social and economic rights of artists to artistic freedom, the right of indigenous communities to safeguard their ancestral knowledge, and the protection and promotion of cultural and natural heritage.

Sustainable Development Through Cultural Diversity

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nations and the resolution on Culture and Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015 emphasize the importance of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can best be achieved by drawing upon the creative potential of the world’s diverse cultures and engaging in continuous dialogue to ensure that all members of society benefit from sustainable development.

UNESCO’s Culture|2030 Indicators framework aims to measure and monitor the progress of culture’s enabling contribution to the implementation of the SDGs.

Why Cultural Diversity Matters

Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only for economic growth but also for leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual life. Acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity, particularly through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), are conducive to dialogue among civilizations and cultures, respect, and mutual understanding.

Origins and Purpose

In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, and in December 2002, the UN General Assembly declared May 21 as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The day provides an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and advance the four goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted in 2005:

  1. Support sustainable systems of governance for culture
  2. Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase mobility of artists and cultural professionals
  3. Integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks
  4. Promote human rights and fundamental freedoms

On this World Day for Cultural Diversity, let us embrace the richness of our diverse cultures and engage in meaningful dialogue to foster peace, understanding, and sustainable development for all.

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