How to Account for the Contribution of Culture in Sustainable Development Goals?

The Philippines and Baguio City began implementing UNESCO Culture|2030 Indicators

What is the role of culture in our society?  As an economic sector, it contributes to employment and GDP; cultural knowledge also enhances the quality of education. It would also play a key role in social inclusion and peacebuilding. But how much does it do so? While theories on the socio-economic role of culture are abundant, statistics to support the claim have been scarce, typically leaving for culture a minor position in the national policy planning.    

To change this dynamic, more than a hundred cultural professionals from national and regional government agencies, civil society organizations, the academe, private sector, and other competent entities in the Philippines came together on 2 and 4 October 2021 to launch the test implementation of the UNESCO Culture|2030 Indicators.

The UNESCO Culture|2030 Indicators, formulated from 2017-2019, is a four-dimension methodology with twenty-two indicators meticulously calculated to measure the multiple ways in which culture contributes to the economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable development complementing the globally agreed-upon Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) supports the implementation of the UNESCO project, in cooperation with the Philippines National Commission for Culture and Arts who provides additional required resources for the implementation in the Philippines and Baguio City.

“As we commemorate the 2021 International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, this will be a crucial step in our commitment to strengthening the local and national policy on culture while at the same time continuing our support to UNESCO’s advocacy for a culture-based approach to development,” said Mr. Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, Chairman of the Republic of the Philippines’ National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).  

The framework will be tested at the national level of the Philippines and at the urban level represented by Baguio city. “This pilot project is timely and relevant. It is being undertaken at a time when Baguio City is preparing its support to UNESCO with regards to its 4-year strategic plan and commitment as a UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts,” Mayor Benjamin Magalong clarified.  

The implementation of the framework in the Philippines and Baguio City is first in the Asia-Pacific region and amongst the global pilot alongside Burkina Faso, Portugal, and Colombia. When asked how a harmonized framework can be developed considering the numerous stakeholders involved and various data sources, Ms. Marichu Tellano, Executive Director of the NCCA and the overall supervisor of the project, assured that “cultural agencies, as composites of a technical working committee, are assigned to different domains of the framework and their outputs are assembled together. So the long and short of it all, synergy is being done.”

The Philippines’ national and local teams will present the result of the test implementation by March 2022.

Article contributed by B.B.P. Hosmillo