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The Stockholm Conference 

Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Developement 
The power of Culture

UNESCO’s main goal in designing the Stockholm Conference was to transform the new ideas contained in Our Creative Diversity into policy and practice. The Conference was deliberately designed to allow government officials and cultural leaders, artists, intellectuals, scholars, and media personalities, to interact and debate on a range of key issues. Some 2,500 participants, from 149 countries explored practical ways of recasting cultural policies within a human development framework. The outcome was the Action Plan the Conference adopted on 2 April 1998.

The purpose of this Conference was twofold:

  • to contribute to the integration of cultural policies in human development strategies at international and national level, and
  • to help strengthen UNESCO's contributions to cultural policy formulation and international cultural co-operation
  • Conference Structure

    The conference was organized in three types of sessions : Plenary, Forum and Agora. For the Plenary sessions, Ministers and senior officials were asked to focus their remarks on the proposals contained in the Draft Action Plan, a revised version of which was intended to be the principal outcome of the conference. Eminent Guest Speakers were invited to speak to enrich the Plenary debate.

    The Forum sessions, each organized and chaired by a different Member State, were designed as structured discussions on the ten conference themes, each to be opened by a panel discussion between eminent specialists.

    The Agora sessions were conceived as a varied "menu" of independent workshops and seminars organized by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, associations, foundations, etc. with a view to highlighting ideas and new initiatives across a broad spectrum of cultural policy-related areas.

    Several other events also took place. The organization of a Business Forum was entrusted to the Progressio Foundation based in The Netherlands, while the UNESCO Secretariat organized a Youth Forum. The International Federation of Actors took the initiative of organizing a conference entitled "Performance Priorities for Cultural Policy Making" and the Swedish Joint Committee for Literary and Artistic Professionals held a conference entitled "Towards a Cultural Agenda 21".

    Conference Themes

    The two main themes which serve as the basic framework for the Conference were :
    1) the challenges of cultural diversity and (Background document)
    2) the challenges of recasting cultural policies. (Background document)

  • Under the first main theme, the challenges of Cultural Diversity, the following issues were discussed:
  • 1.1 A commitment to pluralism (Our Creative Diversity : Chapter 2)
    Today, as the world integrates and diversifies simultaneously, the paramount policy challenge is no doubt that of cultural pluralism. It is the twin challenge of unity in diversity, of nurturing the ?creative diversity? that is the greatest wealth of the human species while at the same time managing this diversity to help the world?s peoples live together better …. (More)

    1.2 Cultural rights (Our Creative Diversity : International Agenda : Action 7)
    The notion of cultural rights looms increasingly large in the public's awareness of human rights but has not yet achieved equal prominence on the policy agenda... (More)

    1.3.a Cultural heritage for development (Our Creative Diversity : Chapter 7)
    The concept of cultural heritage has expanded considerably in recent years. This greatly increased popular attachment is based on an ever-increasing public awareness of the richness of the heritage as well as of its vulnerability… (More)

    1.3.b Cultural creativity and cultural industries
    Today, said the World Commission, it is ever more necessary to cultivate human creativity, for in our climate of rapid change, individuals, communities and societies can adapt to the new and transform their reality only through creative imagination and initiative.? This notion of creativity as a policy challenge fully recognizes aesthetic excellence and the individual act of creation, yet goes beyond both… (More)

    1.4 Culture for children and young people (Our Creative Diversity : Chapter 6)Children in the majority of countries are or will soon be more numerous than adults; 40% of the population in developing countries is under 15 years old as opposed to 20% in the industrially developed. These numbers alone are reason enough to reflect upon our responsibilities towards them and address their needs more determinedly... (More)

  • Under the second main theme, the challenges of Recasting Cultural Policies, the following issues were discussed:
  • 2.1 Improving research and international co-operation for cultural policy (Our Creative Diversity : Chapter 9)

    In order for culture to be brought ?in from the margins? and to the centre of policy-making, political will needs to be mobilized. But, as pointed out in Our Creative Diversity, cultural policy-making is sorely lacking in reliable comparative data. Although work in areas such as cultural participation and consumption has been considerable in some countries, it does not inform the linkages between cultural policy and develop… (More)

    2.2 Mobilising resources for cultural activities

    Not even the best informed and most enlightened cultural policy can be implemented unless there are sufficient funds to do so. But the lack thereof is a challenge everywhere as national cultural budgets stagnate and even decline. … (More)

    2.3 The media in cultural policy (Our Creative Diversity : Chapter 4)

    The World Commission on Culture and Development has emphasized the transformations in the world of the media, characterized today by a broader range of choices, the opening of new horizons leading to grater diversity and enhanced information flow. … (More)

    2.4 Culture and the new media technologies

    As the Internet becomes a worldwide phenomenon, with over 60 million users and almost 20 million hosts, never before has so much information been so readily and so instantaneously available. The new information and communications technologies inspire original creative forms and provide new contexts for social relations, work and consumption patterns… (More)

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