In 2002, May 21 was declared as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The day presents an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to advance the four goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on 20 October 2005:
- Support sustainable systems of governance for culture
- Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase mobility of artists and cultural professionals
- Integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks
- Promote human rights and fundamental freedoms
What does this look like at the Pacific Community (SPC) and for our Blue Pacific Continent? SPC is institutional custodian of the Pacific Regional Culture Strategy (2022 – 2032) and of the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) a role that it fulfils in partnership with its member countries through the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture.
Through its Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division, SPC has committed to promoting, and safeguarding positive expressions of culture. Culture is one of the HRSD Division’s four priority areas, with a focus on protecting Pacific peoples’ cultures, arts and languages so that it thrives. This is achieved by working with relevant stakeholders to ensure cultural knowledge and the interests of Pacific peoples are protected and dynamic in development policy/ programming.
HRSD’s engagement in establishing and maintaining meaningful partnerships and collaborative efforts is guided by Pacific cultural values that emphasise the importance of relationships, interdependence and reciprocity. In close alignment to UNESCO’s four goals of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, the following results are what SPC is striving towards:
- Cultural knowledge is protected and dynamic in development policy/programming.
- Regional leadership improves implementation of human rights and social development priorities at a national level.
- Human rights and social development knowledge inform national policies and development programmes.
The Pacific Regional Culture Strategy 2022 -2032 (PRCS) was endorsed by Culture Ministers in April of 2022 and launched at the Pacific Leaders Forum in July of the same year. A guiding policy for culture and sustainable development, the PRCS identifies five key priorities: Cultural policy frameworks, Cultural heritage, Cultural wellbeing, Cultural innovation and Cultural statistics. Three cross-cutting priorities include Cultural Research, Youth and Capacity strengthening.
The PRCS represents an important milestone in regional development in its complementarity with the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and other leading regional policy frameworks. It advocates for culture as both a critical standalone and cross-cutting sustainable development priority and provides an opportunity to strengthen our efforts towards contextually relevant and culture-inclusive development approaches.