Helen Clark: Speech at the UNDP and UNESCO Featured Event: Widening Local Development Pathways: The Creative Economy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Dec 10, 2013

Speech by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, at the UNDP and UNESCO Featured Event:
Widening Local Development Pathways: The Creative Economy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda
UNHQ, New York

It is a pleasure to be part of this presentation of the conclusions of the Creative Economy Report 2013 on “Widening Local Development Pathways”, and to consider how it might inform the post-2015 global development agenda.

With the 2015 target date for the MDGs fast approaching, and with deliberations on post-2015 well under way, this Report on the role of the creative economy in development is timely.

In May this year, the UN System Task Team Report on Post-2015 noted the need for “new development pathways which encourage creativity and innovation in the pursuit of inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth and development.”  This message has been echoed in feedback from the global conversation facilitated by the UN development system and in the discussions of Member States on what should follow the MDGs.

The Creative Economy Report 2013 is the result of a partnership between UNESCO and the Office for South-South Co-operation, hosted by UNDP. It reviews eighty culture and development programmes, which have been supported and/or implemented by UN Country Teams. These include programmes funded in eighteen countries and territories by the MDG Achievement Fund, generously funded by the Government of Spain, and initiatives supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity.

Based on the evidence of how many countries and communities are harnessing the creative economy for development, the Report identifies opportunities for culture and the sectors associated with it to be both drivers and enablers of inclusive and sustainable development, including at the local level.

Creative sectors as divers of inclusive growth

The Reports shows how culture and the creative sectors are driving innovation and entrepreneurship, and thereby stimulating economic growth, generating jobs, and raising incomes. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2011, world trade of creative goods and services reached $624 billion dollars - more than twice the total of a decade ago .
The creative industries make significant contributions to the world’s highly developed economies, generating jobs and incomes from music, entertainment, film, and other sectors. This is increasingly happening in developing countries too – overall their exports of creative goods to the world reached 43 per cent of the total global creative industries trade, with an annual growth rate of over thirteen per cent between 2002 and 2008.
The creative sectors support inclusive growth by offering opportunities not only to the highly skilled, but also to the unskilled and marginalized.
Cambodia, for example, drew on a programme supported by the MDG Achievement Fund to take action on many levels.

At the community level, the programme supported individual entrepreneurship and business development. With training in small business management and marketing, hundreds of local producers and artisans were able to improve the management of their small businesses and their marketing. As a result, the participants, the majority of whom were women, lifted their sales of handicrafts by eighteen per cent and their incomes.  

The programme also worked with local authorities and actors to support their capacity to design, implement, and monitor policies and programmes aimed at the cultural sector. This included training for local leaders, traders, producers, and NGO partners, thereby boosting their understanding of trade procedures and processes, and increasing their ability to analyze relevant trade legislation, and identify and access new markets.

The programme also targeted policy at the highest level of government. Support was provided to partners to develop Cambodia’s Living Human Treasure System. Through this system, artists and craftsmen receive a regular financial allowance in exchange for their commitment to pass on their skills and knowledge. Following broad stakeholder consultations, the system was implemented after being approved by Royal Decree in 2010, covering seventeen defined skill-areas which are deemed to be exemplary bearers of Cambodia’s intangible cultural heritage.

Culture and creativity as an enabler of inclusive development

The Report emphasizes that as well as stimulating job creation and inclusive growth, culture and creativity also have significant non-monetary value which contributes to inclusive social development. Investing in culture and creative sectors helps foster civic engagement, dialogue, and understanding, contributing to a peaceful and enabling environment for development.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina , for example, the MDG Achievement Fund supported local and national partners endeavoring to heal the wounds of communities torn apart by conflict. The initiative supported partners to develop relevant school curricula and educational materials, facilitate the exchange of students between communities, and launch a public awareness campaign aimed at advancing mutual understanding. An evaluation of the programme found that 84 primary schools had improved the cross-cultural understanding of students. As well, support was provided to restore significant religious buildings as important symbols of a multicultural society, including the Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Lucka, the Orthodox Catherdral in Mostar, and the Plehan Monastery near Derventa.

Looking ahead

More can be done to promote the role of the creative sectors and culture in development, and thereby to generate more decent work and green jobs - including for marginalized people in poor communities.
The UN development system is committed to supporting countries in these efforts. Five years ago, “culture” was mentioned in only thirty per cent of UN Development Assistance Frameworks agreed with national counterparts; last year it was referenced in seventy per cent of these agreements.  

The UNDG has established a Task Team on Culture and Development, co-led by UNESCO and UNDP. It aims to ensure that we can respond effectively to the growing interest of Member States in initiatives which link creativity and culture to development, including through South-South Co-operation.

Even so, it is not uncommon for investments in culture to lose out to competing priorities, and rigorous data collection and analysis to inform policy is all too often missing. Acknowledging the role of the creative economy within the post-2015 development agenda as both a driver and an enabler of human and sustainable development can change that.

I am convinced that harnessing the power of creativity and culture can help developing countries diversify their economies and connect local producers to global value chains, and that it will bring broader intangible benefits too. UNDP looks forward to working with programme countries to these ends. The Report’s recommendations are worthy of study for all wishing to pursue inclusive and sustainable development.

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