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E-discussion on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs” for the 2013 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) of UN ECOSOC

5-19 March 2013

UN DESA, UNDP and UNESCO are leading the e-discussion on the theme of the ECOSOC session “Building the future we want with science, technology and innovation (STI) and culture”. The part concerning culture will take place between 5 and 19 March 2013, moderated jointly by the Millennium Development Goal Fund (MDG-Fund) and UNESCO as part of the 2013 Annual Ministerial Review process.

The e-discussion aims to bring together experts, researchers and practitioners from around the world in order to formulate critical policy messages and elements for an action agenda to the UN Economic and Social Council’s 2013 Annual Ministerial Review on the roles of STI and culture for achieving the MDGs and sustainable development. 

The e-discussion will be divided into two phases:

Phase I (18 Feb – 4 Mar) on STI, moderated by Lidia Brito, Director of Science Policy and Capacity Building, UNESCO, and Selim Jahan, Director of Poverty Practice, UNDP

Phase II (5 Mar – 19 March) on culture, moderated by Giovanni Boccardi, World Heritage Centre and Guiomar Alonso Cano, Programme Specialist, UNESCO Office in Dakar, UNESCO; and Sara Ferrer Olivella, Deputy Director and Programme Advisor, MDG Achievement Fund.

Registration is through the link below to participate in these on-line discussions, as well as invite partners and networks working in the fields of your expertise who would be interested in taking part in the discussions.


Please do not hesitate to contact Nao Hayashi (n.hayashi@unesco.org) for further background information and the ECOSOC process.

Introduction to the e-discussion by G. Boccardi, co-moderator of the Culture part

The international community has agreed that the development approach followed so far, despite the progress made, has exposed its limits. As the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki Moon stated recently, “we cannot continue to burn and consume our way to prosperity” while poverty and inequalities continue to increase. It has become apparent that “business as usual” is not an option and that a transformative change is required, placing more emphasis on the humanistic dimension of development and on a wider notion of wellbeing beyond GDP.

Many are suggesting that a stronger consideration for culture and of local context in development policies and programmes could be one of the key components of the ‘future we want for all’. Culture is understood here both as a sector, including the arts, tangible and intangible heritage and the creative industries broadly defined, and in its larger anthropological notion of ‘vision of the world’.

Indeed, experience has shown that activities associated to the culture sector can deliver a range of concrete benefits to communities in social, economic and environmental terms, thus driving sustainable development. At the same time, the failure of many well-intentioned projects has shown how a context and culture-sensitive approach to development initiatives is a critical enabler of sustainable development. As Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen put it, “cultural matters are integral parts of the lives we lead. If development can be seen as enhancement of our living standards, then efforts geared to development can hardly ignore the world of culture”. 

For various reasons, including the lack of a clear framework supported by statistics as well as a persisting belief that cultural diversity might be a hindrance to the respect of fundamental human rights and the improvement of governance, culture was not included in the MDGs established in 2000. As a result, a globally agreed and shared recognition that all development strategies and programmes at global, regional and local levels, should integrate culture within its goals, indicators and targets is still missing. This has meant that the potential of culture to contribute to sustainable development has remained largely untapped in many regions of the world, particularly in developing countries, where it could make the most difference.

The debates leading to the post-2015 development agenda, including this e-discussion, provide a unique opportunity to address this gap and articulate the ways in which the contribution of culture to sustainable development could be defined and measured over the next decades. The results of this discussion will be summarized and brought to the attention of the States which are members of ECOSOC, as well as to wider audiences throughout the various forums leading to 2015.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Tuesday, 19 March 2013

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