No progress without strong culture: WCF

The first World Culture Forum (WCF) kicked off Monday in Nusa Dua, with a unanimous belief from participating countries that culture is an important factor in social inclusion and poverty eradication. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially opened the forum, which aims to bring ideas to include culture in the post-2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, by hitting the kulkul, a traditional Balinese wooden percussion instrument. “This World Culture Forum is designed to complement and strengthen existing initiatives, including those under the framework of UNESCO,” Yudhoyono said in his speech.

“Indonesia also hopes that by engaging a wide range of stakeholders, this forum will contribute to collaborative development of culture.” Yudhoyono said that the international community had recognized the significance of culture in achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, proven by intergovernmental processes at the UN. He mentioned a landmark resolution in 2011 as an example, when UN members acknowledged that culture was an essential component of human development. “Recognition can also be seen in the outcome documents of the Rio+20 Conference, which underscore that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to sustainable development,” the President said.

He also expressed his hope that this forum could be convened regularly. According to a UN report, Yudhoyono said, cultural and creative industries represented one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the global economy. In Asia, they accounted for 9.7 growth rate, while reaching 13.9 percent and 17.6 percent respectively in Africa and the Middle East. Indonesian Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh said that the two-day conference would result in what would be called the “Bali Promise”. UNESCO director general Irina Bokova, who delivered a message by video, said that the world needed new approaches to development that enhanced human rights and dignity in harmony with the planet and were meaningful for everyone.

“Culture is who we are. It shapes what we do and how we see the world. It is also a force for dialogue, for building bridges of respect and mutual understanding between people and communities,” she said. “There can be no full ownership, no full participation of development strategies without the full integration of culture,” Irina said. Meanwhile, noted CNN columnist and writer Fareed Zakaria, mentioned a book that explained why certain economies succeeded and why others did not. “If you want to succeed economically in the modern world, be Jewish, be Indian, but above all, be Chinese,” he quoted the book as saying.

Zakaria explained that the Chinese culture had all the key ingredients to economic success. In 1979, Deng Xiaoping transformed China and made economic policies and political decisions that were important. “But one thing he did not change, I assume, was China’s thousands of years of culture. That was what seemed to produce the economic miracle in modern China,” Zakaria said, adding that the same had happened in India. Amartya Sen, who won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1998, also delivered a speech during the first day of the conference. A keynote forum of cultural ministries from 17 countries also took place on Monday. Six symposiums by cultural observers from around the globe will take place on Tuesday, covering issues on — among other things — approaches to culture in development, civil society and cultural democracy and interfaith dialog.

source : bali daily

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