H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations
The Ministerial Meeting
Culture and Sustainable Development in the post-2015 Development Agenda
3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Baku
May 18-19, 2015
Your Excellency Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan,
Your Excellency, Mrs Irina Bokova, Director
Your Excellency Dr. Abdulaziz Altwijiri, Director General of ISESCO,
Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yesterday, I heard very inspiring words from the distinguished participants in this forum on the value of sharing culture for our shared security. I also followed closely the discussions on the virtues of multi-culturalism, the silk-roads initiative and its potential for today’s cultural dialogue. Furthermore, we learned about the power of education as well as how the tourism industry is an agent for promoting tolerance, understanding and dialogue between peoples, cultures and civilizations.
There was consensus among the speakers who came from different parts of the world representing diverse stakeholders that cherishing our common and shared values, embracing diverse cultures, and promoting inclusive societies is the only way to attain global peace and security in today’s world.
Today, we are discussing in this round table an equally important topic: Culture and Sustainable Development in the post 2015 Development Agenda.
Allow me first to remind you that in the year 2000, the international community agreed on a set of Millennium Development goals, to ensure globalization would act as a positive force for all peoples. Since 2000 onwards the power of cultural diversity has been recognized. The Outcome Document of the 2010 MDG Summit emphasized the importance of culture for development and its contribution to the fulfillment of the MDGs. The message was re-iterated in the Culture and Development UNGA Resolution in 2012, advocating for the mainstreaming of culture into development policies and strategies.
Culture is a cross-cutting concern. It affects all the dimensions of development. As such, a human-centered, culturally centered approach to development will yield the most effective, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. Specifically, diverse cultural approaches will contribute to economic development, promote social cohesion and foster environmental sustainability.
Investing in culture and creative industries is an excellent way to revitalize economies. Facts speak for themselves. Creative industries represent one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the global economy. The tourism sector has, also become one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, in addition to being a very powerful tool for fostering diversity and bringing people together. According to statistics, every year more than one billion people are crossing national borders of which 25% are under the age of 25. This is a perfect example of human interaction, cultural exchange, dialogue and breaking stereotypes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There are many initiatives within the UN system that aim at making the implementation of the SDGs more measurable through the use of targets and indicators. It is important though to emphasize that such targets and indicators must be country specific and adapted to the needs and capabilities of those using the indicators. There is no one sixe that fits all.
The Alliance of Civilizations have launched a number of initiatives to support the goals of sustainable development. If you look at the 17 goals proposed by the Open Working Group, you will see that each and every one of them calls for dialogue across civilizations and religions. Each of these goals can only be achieved if people, communities and nations work together across cultures, religions and ethnic groups. This includes the first goal, which calls for an end to poverty in all its forms, to goal number 17, which stresses the need to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. In that context, the mission of the Alliance is in line with goal number 16 which states the need for securing peaceful and inclusive societies.
There is an undeniable truth: the interdependence between societies and that prosperity and well-being can only be achieved if differences between people are seen as an asset to development. All 17 goals with their social, economic and environmental aspects, can only be fully attainable by leaping over the barriers that divide us and embracing our common and shared values.
Allow me to re-iterate again, that the Alliance is dedicated to the proposition that cultural, ethnic and religious diversity are pillars of sustainable development, rather than obstacles on its way. It requires partnerships on all fronts. We partner with the corporate sector, the civil society, academia and faith-based organizations as well as governments to promote and fund projects and programs that support the role of young people of all denominations in social and economic growth.
We are gathered here today in the shared belief that the 17 sustainable development are achievable and require our commitment to nurture inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue in all societies for the sake of peaceful and inclusive societies.
I thank you and I look forward to our discussions.