Today, Andris Piebalgs, the European Commissioner for Development, ahead of the High-Level Round Table on Culture and Development, signed an agreement with UNESCO for a €1 million Expert Facility to support governance of the cultural sector. This facility will allow the governments of developing countries to take advantage of experts' knowledge in developing effective and sustainable cultural policies. It will contribute to implementation of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs said: "This €1 million facility will help to support a vibrant cultural sector in developing countries. Culture is a key factor to ensure a sustainable, human and economic development".
The European Commission was a major player in the negotiations of the Convention and has been deeply committed in promoting cultural diversity in EU's cooperation with partner countries all over the world.
Today, Commissioner Piebalgs will co-chair the High-Level Round Table on Culture and Development together with Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO and Jean Ping, the President of the African Union Commission. Organised at the time, when world leaders meet in New York to discuss progress made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Round Table will discuss the role that culture plays in development policy and achieving the MDGs. Among other participants at the Round Table will be - Minister for Culture of the French Speaking Community of Belgium and serving President of the EU's Culture Council, Fadila Lanaan who shares the Commissioner's position and stresses the importance of the cultural dimension of development.
Funds allocated by the European Union to Culture within its Development policy are growing. From the €155 million allocated for the ACP countries during the period 1990-2007, this figure has increased to around €200 millions for the period 2007-2013.
The cultural sector contributed to nearly 3% of the aggregate European GDP. Considered that the contribution of real estate activities is 2.1%, the food, beverage and tobacco industries 1.9%, and the textile industry 0.5%1, it is clear that culture is a sector that needs to be taken into account in the fight against poverty.
In Mali, for example, the cultural sector employs around 115.000 people, which is about 6%2 of the economically active population in the country.
Culture in EU development cooperation:
Culture in the EU's external cooperation:
Website of Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs:
JERETIC, Patricio, Culture as a Factor of Economic and Social Development, Brussels, 2009. Report financed by EuropeAid.