2nd Meeting of the Asian Cultural Council: UNESCO advocates for integration of culture and innovation in national policies to enhance inclusive growth in the context of COVID-19 and beyond

In commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) and the 11th anniversary of the ICAPP’s Sixth General Assembly, the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) and the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) held the second meeting of the Asian Cultural Council online on the 19th of March 2021, under the theme ‘Harnessing Culture and Innovation for Shared Prosperity During COVID-19 and Beyond’. Presided by Hon. Jose de Venecia, founder of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), Hon. Ms. Khuon Sudary, Second Vice-President of the National Assembly of Cambodia, Vice Chairperson of ICAPP Standing Committee and Chairperson of the ACC and Hon. Cho Byuong Jae, Secretary-General of the ICAPP, the conference brought 89 political parties across Asia and regional cultural experts. The objective of the meeting was to share practical insights and solutions on two key topics: 1) investing in culture and creativity for inclusive growth; and 2) promoting culture-innovation nexus.

Four keynote speakers including Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, Mr. Masanori Nagaoka, Culture Specialist of UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh, Mr. Piseth Keo, Vice President and Director of Centre of Sustainable Development Studies at the Asian Vision Institute (AVI), and Ms. Sandrine Capelle-Manuel, Multi Country Office Director of UNOPS in Cambodia shared their perspectives and practical solutions on how to invest in culture and innovation for economic growth. These presentations were followed by 26 representatives of political parties in Asia from Cambodia, Vietnam, Lebanon, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, India, Turkey, Korea, Indonesia, Cyprus, Laos and Nepal.

Session 1: Investing in culture to promote social cohesion, climate resilience and poverty reduction:

Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, delivered a key note presentation entitled ‘Investing in Culture and Creativity for Inclusive Growth’ in which he stated that culture as a key player of growth contributes to poverty reduction, inclusive growth, environment and climate change resilience, social cohesion and inclusion. He highlighted culture as the enabler and driver to achieving the aforementioned goals for sustainable development and underlined the importance of investment in the area. Mr. Alam called for the incorporation of culture in economic planning processes, policies, actions, and budgets. He also urged countries to strengthen the link between cultural capital and human capital upon careful examination of the structure of the creative economy. Moreover, he recommended investments in innovative changes and provision of incentives to engage local communities as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.

Session 2: Investing in innovative solutions:

During the second session of the conference on ‘Promoting Culture-Innovation nexus’, Mr. Masanori Nagaoka, Culture specialist of the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh provided a comprehensive overview of the range of emergency measures adopted by the states in support of cultural workers, institutions and industries and tools for strengthening the resilience of the sector, in particular the necessary shift toward digital technologies.

The presentation focused on four measures; stimulating demand, strengthening infrastructure and facilities, adapting business models, promoting national content to fulfil several objectives: offering paid work to artists, creating original content, instilling new viewing habits in audiences that had lost their bearings during lockdown, bringing people together around culturally meaningful content, and promoting the national culture alongside foreign content.

‘During this challenging time, artists and cultural professionals have allowed us to stay connected, despite the distance between us. Just as their creativity brought us together, it is now our turn to come together and speak up for them’ concluded Mr. Masanori Nagaoka.


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