Delegation of the European Union to The Gambia

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development: fostering dialogue and respect between different peoples around the world

20/05/2020 - 17:34
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The EU, a product itself of a mosaic of diversity shaped throughout centuries, is deeply engaged in the preservation of the diversity of cultural expressions and traditions

"In celebrating the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, we underline how crucial is cultural diversity for the European Union and how much it is a key element also in fostering dialogue and respect between different peoples all around the world", said the High Representative Josep Borrell and the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel in a joint statement to mark the date.

"Europe is a mosaic of diversity shaped in centuries of dialogue and exchanges between different nations, languages and cultures and in this diversity it thrived and developed its cultural richness. This is the reason why the European Union is engaged in the preservation of the diversity of cultural expressions and traditions all over the world (...) Even more so now that the Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted a harsh blow to the cultural sector, EU initiatives as the European Capitals of Culture, Erasmus+ and Creative Europe acquire a renewed importance for the sustainability of the cultural industry".

Why does cultural diversity matter?

Culture is a common ground. Its value is globally recognized across countries despite political divides. It inspires respect, dialogue and open-mindedness. Today the notion of culture has evolved including once distinct activities such as the performing and visual arts, literature, cultural and creative industries, education, development cooperation, heritage, the media, etc. The old distinction between traditional and popular culture has disappeared, giving way to a more informal production and consumption of culture by a wide variety of actors. Culture is thus more egalitarian and more accessible, also thanks to higher levels of education, new technologies and global tourism.

 The standardizing effects of globalization have aroused more demand for culture by peoples and nations striving to preserve their identity. The spread of democracy and freedom as well as the consolidation of nation states after the fall of totalitarianism has allowed for the blossoming of nations once oppressed that now are proud to revamp their culture. 

 This new cultural landscape encourages exchanges, thus fostering innovation and enhancing a society’s capacity to adapt and to prosper. Cultural exchanges contest stereotypes and prejudice, nurture dignity and respect for others. Artists and cultural practitioners have traditionally looked beyond administrative borders for cooperation opportunities. 

 It is in this framework that cultural diversity acquires a crucial importance, in particular for the European Union, whose very nature is a mosaic of different cultures.

The European Union’s strategy in international cultural relations and in the fostering of cultural diversity

 The Communication “Towards an EU strategy in international cultural relations” clearly sets out the engagement of the European Union in support of cultural diversity. 

 Cultural diversity is an integral part of the values of the European Union and promoting diversity through international cultural relations is an important part of the EU's role as a global actor. This involves a commitment to both promoting 'international cultural relations', through the support and assistance the EU provides to third countries, and supporting the promotion of the Union and the diverse cultures of EU Member States through 'cultural diplomacy.' 

 As a party to the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, the EU is committed to promoting the diversity of cultural expression as part of its international cultural relations. This reflects and promotes the EU's fundamental values, such as human rights, gender equality, democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity. Culture, and in particular inter-cultural dialogue, can contribute to addressing major global challenges – such as conflict prevention and resolution, integrating refugees, countering violent extremism, and protecting cultural heritage.

 Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.

 Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. This is captured in the EU strategy for international cultural relations and also in the 7 UNESCO Conventions on Culture, which provide a solid basis for the promotion of cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development.

 At the same time, acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity – in particular through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) – are conducive to dialogue among civilisations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding.

 EU Delegations all over the world promote cultural diversity with their action in many different ways.

Cultural projects from the EU Delegations around the world

  • In Khartoum, Sudan, the “Sudan and Europe – Creative Connections” program has been launched end of 2019. This EUR 350k program aims at fostering mutual learning, and cross-cultural understanding, while empowering Sudanese cultural sector, as an engine for inclusive and sustainable development. With a people-to-people approach the project supports the promotion of cultural diversity, through capacity building interventions targeting emerging actors and institutions of the cultural sector (with a focus on young professionals, women and minorities in particular).
  • In Tunisia, Tfanen-Tunisie Créative is a 3-year programme to support the strengthening of the Tunisian cultural sector through sub-granting calls for proposals and technical assistance in capacity building of local cultural actors. It is funded by the EU Delegation and implemented by the British Council in partnership with the EUNIC cluster in Tunisia. The programme aims to strengthen the civil society, facilitate sustainable professionalisation of the cultural sector and reinforcement of the role of culture as a vector for social cohesion at local, regional and national level. 
  • En République démocratique du Congo, l'appui de l'UE à la culture en RDC a pour principe le soutien de la culture en tant que moteur du développement social et économique durable, conformément à la Stratégie de l’UE en matière de relations culturelles internationales. Les priorités de la coopération culturelle s'articulent autour des axes suivants: le maintien d’une programmation culturelle conjointe entre ses différents membres, la multiplication des activités sur l'ensemble du territoire de la RDC, la co-création avec les artistes congolais et la promotion des échanges interculturels entre la RDC et l'Europe. 
  • In Azerbaijan, IMAGINE Euro Tolerance festival was created in 2017 to celebrate diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism. Supported by the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, EU Member States cultural institutes and Embassies, and in partnership with a large number of local institutions, IMAGINE has offered a large number of activities, including concerts, films, exhibitions, master classes and debates. With time, IMAGINE became an annual festival, grew and extended its activities outside Baku and in particular in Ganja. Some 4.000 people attended its activities in its last edition in 2019.


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