In the Run-up to G20 Italy, Culture Declared Essential for Post-Pandemic Recovery

In the Run-up to G20 Italy, Culture Declared Essential for Post-Pandemic Recovery
Under the Italian G20 Presidency, cultural experts, representatives from international organizations and professional networks gathered from 9 to 13 April 2021 for three thematic webinars to raise culture’s profile in the G20. The webinars addressed priority challenges raised by the unprecedented pandemic and underscored the critical role of culture in socio-economic recovery, as well as its role in driving transformative change to build back better. The webinars were designed to feed mainstream G20 policy discussions, by highlighting culture’s effective impact on global economic growth and sustainable development.

“Culture matters deeply in a globalized world, with the great challenges ahead of us. Culture is an important instrument for dialogue between peoples, religions, different civilizations and, above all – in the G20 context – it is an engine for sustainable economic growth’’ – Dario Franceschini, Minister of Culture of Italy

These multi-stakeholder exchanges placed culture at the heart of the public policy agenda. From protecting cultural heritage against illicit trafficking, to culture-led mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change, as well as the synergies between culture and education, the themes set forth by the Italian Presidency put the spotlight on the cross-cutting role of culture for sustainable development. Though one of the hardest hit sectors, culture is critical to post-pandemic recovery scenarios. Echoing UNESCO’s efforts to strengthen policy dialogue and catalyze support for culture across the policy spectrum, the inclusion of culture in the G20 process was acknowledged as a key milestone.

“The G20 ministerial debates, alongside events such as the UNESCO Forum of Ministers of Culture held in 2019 and the Mondiacult Conference scheduled for 2022, all highlight the growing importance of culture in intergovernmental discussions”, – Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO

Protection of cultural heritage and illicit trafficking: The future will give us back our past
The first webinar explored strategies for cultural heritage protection through more systemic coordination to curb illicit trafficking and address emergency situations. Under the leadership of the Italian Carabinieri, representatives from UNESCO and its partners, UNIDROIT, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the International Criminal Court (ICC), ICOM, ICOMOS and Eurojust, underscored the need to upscale the effective implementation of existing normative instruments and policy tools at international, regional and national levels. They also underscored the need to harmonize public and private legal frameworks, adapting them to the new digital environment, and enhancing collaboration between all involved stakeholders. Developing disaster risk management strategies, monitoring tools, shared databases and platforms, through professional networks and national specialized units were recommended to bolster the fight against illicit trafficking.


Addressing the climate crisis through culture: Preserving cultural heritage, supporting the green transition
The second webinar focused on the impact of climate change on cultural heritage, and on culture’s multifaceted solutions for adaptation, mitigation and resilience. Leveraging culture for climate adaptation and mitigation was addressed by key players such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UNESCO, the International Center for the Study of the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM), the International Institute for the Conservation of Historical and Artistic Works (IIC), ICOMOS, and the European Commission. Speakers shared innovative approaches and analytical tools to assess climate-induced risks and vulnerabilities on cultural heritage, while also leveraging technology to improve data and evidence. Multi-stakeholder networks were also presented such as the flexible mechanism established by Greece together with UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to monitor the impact of climate change on cultural heritage sites, as well as the UNESCO-ICOMOS-IPCC initiative on cultural heritage and climate change. Promoting people-centred development models rooted in cultural approaches and local and indigenous knowledge were also stressed as powerful resources to foster behavioral change.


Building capacity through training and education: Human capital, the driver of culture-led regeneration
The third webinar focused on the need to strengthen systemic synergies between culture and education to enhance skills and human capital. Speakers included representatives of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Commission, the Council of Europe, ICROM, ICOMOS, the European Network on Cultural management and Policy (ENCACT), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions; as well as several Ministries of Culture, museums and academic institutions. Integrating culture into the learning process to improve adaptation and skills development in the labor environment was underscored, from curricula, to non-formal education and experimentation through creative methodologies, including design thinking to foster multidisciplinary approaches. Synergies between culture and education help to underpin social justice, intercultural dialogue and peace. The impact of cultural participation on innovation, resilience, social cohesion and mental health – further brought to light by the current pandemic – were particularly stressed.

Together, participants in the three thematic webinars urged G20 countries to place culture at the core of policymaking. These webinars pave the way towards the G20 Ministers of Culture Meeting, which will be held on 29 and 30 July 2021. The Ministerial Meeting will lead to the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration on Culture that will culminate in a stronger commitment by G20 leaders to the integration of culture in the political and economic agenda of the G20 countries.

The webinars can be viewed here:


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