Mainstreaming Culture into Sustainable Development Agenda: UNESCO Supports “Advancement of Culture for the Well-Being of All”

Development policy understood as the accumulation of material wealth has proven ineffective in the face of rising critical issues such as environmental degradation, conflict, intolerance and all forms of socio-economic injustice.  Why become the wealthiest person in a world filled with extreme violence, inequality, and collapsing biosphere?   

In reaction, many countries today turn into culture as an alternative development strategy to achieve a more inclusive, just and ecologically sound society.  Cultural mainstreaming is slowly becoming the centrepiece of the agenda for sustainable development.    

In collaboration with UNESCO, Directorate-General of Culture under the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia convened the International Forum for the Advancement of Culture (IFAC) in Jakarta from 10 to 12 October 2019 to create a people-to-people network on the new paradigm of Advancement of Culture for the Well-Being of All.

In his Opening Remarks, the Director of UNESCO Jakarta, Mr Shahbaz Khan, commended the Government of Indonesia for their actions to mainstream culture as a driver and an enabler of sustainable development, “Since the first World Culture Forum in 2013, the Government of Indonesia has led the way by investing in cultural policies.  Creation of National Agency for Creative  Economy in 2016, adoption of National Law on Cultural Advancement in 2017, National Cultural Congress in 2018, and the launch of new national culture index for development this year, are just a few of their exemplary actions.  UNESCO looks forward to continued collaboration with the Government of Indonesia in this noble effort to mainstream culture in sustainable development agenda.”

Gathering more than 190 participants and 36 speakers from 27 countries, including Lestari Moerdijat, Vice Speaker of People’s Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia and Somkiat Soralamba, Vice-Minister Attached to The Prime Minister, Ministry of Culture, Kingdom of Thailand, the forum debated the best practices to achieve well-being for all through the following areas:
1.    Sharing History, Safeguarding Cultural Diversity;
2.    Harnessing Big Data, Fostering Cultural Practices;
3.    Festival as Method: A Network for Action;
4.    Bringing the People Back In: A Case for Popular Policy-Making in Culture;
5.    Culture-Based Economy in the Era of Industrial Revolution 4.0; and
6.    Well-Being for All: Towards a Universal Basic Right to Happiness.

Participants adopted the Jakarta Statement at the end of the Forum, emphasizing the importance of going beyond theory to demonstrate the tangible impact of culture on development, and learning from the experience of field practitioners and CSOs who are at the front line of development works.  

The IFAC and the recommendations in the Jakarta Statement will lead to the third World Culture Forum to be held by the Government of Indonesia in 2020.   

Annex: Jakarta Statement

IFAC Video link