UNESCO COURIER (July-September 2022) "Culture: global public good"

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MONDIACULT 2022 – the World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development is part of a long-standing commitment by UNESCO to foster an inclusive dialogue on culture at all levels of society. As in 1982, MONDIACULT will once again be held in Mexico, where the buzzing intellectual and collaborative atmosphere led to a redefinition of the notion of culture.

This broadened and deepened definition includes fundamental human rights, value systems, traditions and beliefs. Forty years is not a long time, but it is long enough to allow us to look back at the public actions in favour of culture catalyzed by UNESCO over the past decades, as well as to look towards the future.

The very purpose of MONDIACULT is to build cultural policies adapted to our time, given the immense challenges facing us – challenges that cannot be achieved without a renewal of global solidarity. As the world gradually recovers from a pandemic not seen for over a century, something has irrevocably changed. The crisis has revealed the strong interdependence between our societies and has exposed both the gaps and the strengths in each sector.

 The cultural sector is still suffering from the effects of the health crisis, which disproportionately affected regions and creative areas. Covid19 has had a particularly severe effect on women and has deepened gender inequalities.


The crisis has exposed a number of fault lines, including the total disruption of tourism, the looting of archaeological sites, the casual nature of cultural employment, the precarity of the status of artist and of the business models of museums and cultural institutions, digital exclusion, and unequal access to cultural content. On the other hand, it has also vividly highlighted the impact of culture on every area of human development, from inclusion to education, from well-being to resilience, from dialogue to peacebuilding.


To coincide with MONDIACULT 2022, this issue of The UNESCO Courier presents some illustrations of the importance of culture as a vector for change in our increasingly interconnected and multicultural societies. The reality of these plural societies calls on us to develop public policies adapted to a variety of different contexts, to rethink the drivers of social cohesion and inclusion, of citizen participation and economic, social, and environmental development through culture.

Our generation has a duty to renew the social contract and to accompany future generations in learning positively about cultural diversity, in all its complexity as well as in its capacity for enrichment.

This generation must also ensure the transmission of knowledge, history and traditions through the preservation of heritage, and reinforce solidarity at all levels of our societies. Culture is what defines us in space and time – our past and present roots, our prospects.

Culture is an inexhaustible and renewable resource, which adapts to changing contexts and which speaks to humans first and foremost through their capacity to imagine, create and innovate.

Culture is our most powerful global public good. In the words of Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, culture has a role “as a desirable end in itself, as giving meaning to our existence”. Today, more than ever, we need to find meaning, we need universality, we need culture in all its diversity.

Ernesto Ottone R. Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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