The Forum brought together experts from governments and inter-governmental agencies, as well as ASPAC group members to discuss strategies and experiences relating to international cooperation in culture and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific region, where the development cooperation environment is rapidly changing through South-South cooperation.
“Over the last five years, the economies of Asia have developed at an average annual growth rate of 8 per cent, prompting some experts to regard the region as the centre of the world’s economic growth for the twenty-first century. With the presence of so-called “emerging economies”, the region’s development cooperation environment has been rapidly evolving, calling for new forms of dialogue for encouraging innovative development structures and strategies” said the Director-General in his opening statement.
However, the region had not been spared the adverse effects of the unprecedented financial and economic crisis currently wreaking havoc around the world. The Forum was therefore a timely initiative in the context of his plea to G20 leaders to pursue multilateralism and boost investment in the social sectors - including culture - as vital both to spurring a recovery and laying the foundations for more stable and equitable growth in the future.
Failure to do so would imperil cultural resources. “This threatens social cohesion, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, where cultural diversity is at great risk as a result of rapid globalization,” the Director-General warned.
Continuing, he explained how UNESCO was working with its Member States to integrate culture into national development strategies, notably through joint programming exercises and the development of strategic partnerships. Citing projects such as the Creative Industries Support Programme currently being put in place in Cambodia, and the China Culture and Development Partnership Framework, both funded by the UNDP-Spain MDG Achievement Fund, as striking examples of UNESCO’s country level actions, Mr Matsuura also acknowledged the important contributions made by ASPAC donors such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia in support of UNESCO’s culture programme in the region.
“However, we still have some distance to travel before culture is accorded equal priority to education, health or the environment as an area for development cooperation”, he observed, adding that the two day meeting would “greatly enrich our collective understanding of existing international cooperation strategies and experiences in culture and development [which] is an important step towards building fruitful synergies for bilateral, multilateral and South-South cooperation, and for developing the networks and partnerships necessary for building a sustainable future for all the people of the Asia and Pacific region”.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 111-2009 - Publication Date: 15-06-2009