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Building peace in the minds of men and women

Culture Speaks



Featuring conversations with UNESCO staff, experts and cultural actors, Culture Speaks provides a fresh take on the trends, challenges and opportunities currently shaping the world of culture – from the impact of the digital revolution, to mass tourism, illicit trafficking and beyond.





February 2019

12.Is culture the key to safeguarding indigenous rights? 40 percent of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world are in danger of disappearing. Most of these languages are indigenous languages, which embody complex systems of knowledge developed and accumulated over thousands of years. The disappearance of these languages often means this knowledge is lost forever. As the world marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages, we sat down with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to talk about why she views culture as crucial to the fight for indigenous rights.

© Getty Images / Lindrik

February 2019

11. Why architects are looking to the past to build the sustainable cities of tomorrow In this episode, UNESCO sits down with Thomas Vonier, President of the International Union of Architects, to discuss the designation of Rio de Janeiro as the first World Capital of Architecture, and why architects and urban planners are increasingly looking to the ways of the past for solutions to today’s urban challenges. Could bicycles, sidewalks and “building for the ages” be the keys to making cities – now home to more than half of the world’s population – sustainable?

November 2018

10. From the coaxing ritual for camels of Mongolia to the Bigwala music and dance of Uganda, the latest episode of Culture Speaks focuses on Living Heritage and UNESCO’s efforts to safeguard it for the future. Interview with Tim Curtis, Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

October 2018

09. Featuring an interview with Louise Haxthausen, Director of UNESCO Office for Iraq, and Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Deputy-Director of the World Heritage Centre, this episode provides an in-depth look at UNESCO’s groundbreaking new initiative to “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”. The largest reconstruction effort undertaken by UNESCO in recent years, “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” aims to place people at the heart of Mosul’s recovery by rehabilitating the city’s cultural and educational institutions.

September 2018

08. Integrating culture into reconstruction and recoveryز In this episode, Sameh Wahba, Director of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice of the World Bank, reveals why the world’s largest development bank now sees culture as integral part of its efforts to support the reconstruction of cities following conflict or crisis.

August 2018

07. This special youth edition of “Talking about Culture” features a young change-maker and UNESCO Youth Forum participant, Tamara Richardson, who describes the key role ICTs can play in safeguarding humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.

JUNE 2018

06. Intangible cultural heritage: A source of resilience for communities affected by conflict?
In this podcast, Lassana Cisse, former National Director of Cultural Heritage and coordinator of the "Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mali for Urgent Safeguarding" project, examines how intangible cultural heritage can serve as a source of resilience for communities affected by conflict.

JUNE 2018

05. Tourists behaving badly? Making sustainable tourism a reality at World Heritage sites
Last year, more than 1.2 billion people traveled across international borders, a trend that is only set to continue. As the number of people traveling for tourism continues to grow, UNESCO World Heritage sites are seeing their visitor numbers increase dramatically, creating enormous opportunities but also challenges for these sites and local communities. Balancing the ideals of conservation, economic development and local participation at World Heritage sites is the goal of UNESCO’s World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme, which is led by Peter Debrine. In this episode, we sat down with Peter to talk about UNESCO’s efforts to make sustainable tourism a reality, and also to hear his tips for travelers who wish to visit World Heritage sites sustainably.

MARCH 2018

04. The Digital Revolution
In this episode of Talking about Culture, we feature an interview with Danielle Cliche, Secretary of the 2005 Convention, and Octavio Kulesz, a UNESCO expert and one of the authors behind Re|Shaping Cultural Policies, who reveal how the digital revolution has fundamentally transformed how artists make, distribute and are compensated for their work. They also explore how UNESCO and its Member States have sought to ensure that all artists can benefit from the potential of digital technologies, as well as the potential effects of artificial intelligence on the cultural and creative industries.


03. Recovering Cambodia’s heritage: The case of the Koh Ker statues
Focusing on the captivating account of the restitution of Cambodia’s famous Koh Ker statues – looted from the Koh Ker temple complex in the 1960s and 70s – the latest episode of the Culture Sector podcast features an interview with Anne Lemaistre, Head of the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh, who offers a glimpse into how UNESCO works to return looted cultural objects to their countries of origin.


02. What are Cultural Rights?
Did you know that the ability to access, participate in and contribute to cultural life is considered a human right? In the latest episode of the Culture Sector podcast, “Talking about Culture”, Karima Bennoune, the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about cultural rights, including: What are cultural rights? What is their basis in international law? Can cultural rights ever be used to justify limits on the rights of women and girls? You can listen to this fascinating podcast here.


01. Exploring World Heritage
In this first installment of “Talking About Culture”, Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, offers an eye-opening account of his two most recent missions to two very different World Heritage sites: Wrangel Island in the far north of Siberia and the mysterious Cueva de las Manos in Patagonia. Although one is home to polar bears and the other to 10,000 year-old cave paintings, both are irreplaceable reminders of the importance of safeguarding humanity’s heritage, for our planet and ourselves.