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Culture: a Bridge to Development

UNESCO’s new global initiative “Culture: a Bridge to Development” was proposed by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and included in the Biennial Programme and Budget for 2012-2013 of UNESCO (36 C/5), as approved by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 36th session (October-November 2011).

This initiative aims at promoting innovative and creative approaches which enhance culture as a bridge to sustainable social, economic and human development, and at better enhancing creativity, cultural industries and cultural heritage in all its forms as a powerful and unique tool for sustainable social, economic and human development, job-creation opportunities social cohesion, education and mutual understanding, thus bringing forth new opportunities for international cooperation.


©Ramirez – Mostar old town panorama

As underlined by Irina Bokova, in her address on the occasion of the 9th UNESCO Regional Summit of Heads of State of South East Europe in Viminacium, Serbia, on 2 September 2011, this initiative “seeks to build genuine bridges within the civil society, among artists, intellectuals, teachers and creators, with a view to exchanging new ideas and visions, and so as to support regional think tanks, create innovative networks and platforms that span the region – through cross-borders festivals, exchanges of artefacts between museums of different countries, travelling exhibitions […]. This initiative will seek to create such networks and to build such cultural bridges among professionals, civil society and politicians, [so that] it will be easier for them to participate in urban, economic and social development projects. Modern art, networks of young artists, media, cultural industries, cultural tourism, are powerful accelerators for growth”.

A specific component of this flagship initiative, entitled “Heritage and Dialogue”, seeks to develop innovative and creative approaches to heritage safeguarding and promotion and culture-sensitive development projects as powerful tools for the enhancement of dialogue and reconciliation in the South-East European region. This component will bring together a broad spectrum of actors such as, inter alia, national and local government representatives, regional centers of excellence and category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO working in the field of culture, non-governmental organizations, academia and higher education institutions, advanced research fora, development banks, leading personalities in the field of conservation, management, museum curatorship, cultural projects.

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