The International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD) and the international U40 Network “Cultural Diversity 2030” are concerned by the proposed 2014-2015 UNESCO budget to be discussed during the 192nd session of the Executive Board in Paris, 24 September to 11 October 2013, which may see a reduction by 30% of the appropriation for the UNESCO 2005 Convention.
If approved, the proposed budget reduction would prevent UNESCO from building on the preliminary successes of the 2005 Convention obtained since its entry into force. It would have direct consequences on the ground for developing countries that are Parties to the Convention. The timing of these cuts could not be worse. At its most recent meeting in June 2013, the Conference of Parties to the Convention has adopted measures aimed at stabilising the Convention’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) and the Technical Assistance Programme for Cultural Governance in Developing Countries based on the very encouraging results of their pilot phase. Should the budget reduction be confirmed, the leadership exerted by UNESCO in implementing the 2005 Convention would have to rely on voluntary extra-budgetary contributions from Member States. Likewise, UNESCO’s ability to campaign for the inclusion of culture in the post-2015 development agenda would also be seriously hampered.
The International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity and the U40 Network “Cultural Diversity 2030”, representing civil society organisations active in the field of culture and sustainable development across the world, are concerned about these risks and call UNESCO’s Member States to allocate sufficient resources to the implementation of the 2005 Convention in the UNESCO budget for 2014-2015.
Since its adoption in October 2005, the Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has been ratified by 132 State Parties. The speed at which the text has been endorsed is considered an extraordinary achievement, which signals the urgency and commitment for action from governments around the world.
Over the past few years, a number of programmes and initiatives have been launched by the UNESCO Secretariat, often in cooperation with State Parties and regional organisations, to facilitate the implementation of the Convention at the national and regional levels. These include the Pilot phase of the Capacity-Building Programme for Cultural Governance Experts in Africa and the Technical Assistance Programme for the Governance of Culture in Developing Countries, as well as project funding under the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
Unlike other Conventions, the 2005 Convention’s International Fund relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from UNESCO member states. Its success in obtaining funds depends, therefore, on its ability to pursue an effective fundraising campaign, which is in turn contingent on the human and financial resources made available to the Convention’s Secretariat, as well as on additional contributions made by other stakeholders. A budget reduction may have a significant negative impact on the implementation of the Convention.
Whilst the IFCD’s ability to receive such voluntary contributions has been moderate in recent years, its attractiveness to potential recipients, including government authorities and NGOs in developing countries, has been substantial. The 196 funding applications submitted in response to the IFCD’s 2013 call for proposals attest to this. Funded projects have contributed to creating employment in the cultural industries, improving the quality of cultural goods and services and fostering new cultural policy models in 40 developing countries. This proves, as UNESCO’s Director-General highlighted in her yearly letter sent out on 25 March 2013 to State Parties appealing to support the IFCD, that ‘creativity and the diversity of cultural expressions are sources of employment, revenue and innovation’.
The proposed budget reduction could also seriously impede the Convention’s Secretariat capacity to meet its obligation, under the Convention, to convene the meetings of statutory bodies at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris and to participate to its fullest to the international advocacy campaign, being led by Ms Bokova, to see culture included in the post-2015 development agenda. Although fully aware of the necessity to adjust expenses of the Organization to its reduced budgetary resources, IFCCD and the U40 Network consider that the budget reduction would prevent UNESCO from serving its commitment towards the diversity of cultural expressions and from strengthening the place of culture in sustainable development.
International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity and U40 Network “Cultural Diversity 2030”
UNESCO’s programme of work and budget for the next biennium will be examined and discussed by the organisation’s Executive Board, as it meets in Paris between 24 September and 11 October 2013. They will later be approved by the General Conference, which is due to hold its 37th session in Paris on 5-20 November 2013. According to information available at present, the reduction in the organisation’s total income may result in a decrease of 30% of resources devoted to the 2005 Convention, of which 20% to personnel and 54% to the operating budget.
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005. It is a legally-binding international agreement that ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own. The Convention recognizes that cultural goods, services and activities are vehicles of identity, but also have economic value, contribute to fighting poverty and promote sustainable development.
The International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity brings together 43 national coalitions, representing more than 600 organizations of cultural professionals and artists. It is recognized by the UNESCO as an official partner with consultative status and is represented on the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee. more
The international U40 Network “Cultural Diversity 2030” is an independent civil society network of young experts, which stimulates debates and ideas to better formulate cultural policies for cultural diversity throughout the world, in the context of the implementation of the 2005 Convention. Since it was launched in 2007, over 100 young experts from across the world have taken part in its activities.