The global U40 Network for Cultural Diversity 2030 met in Berlin from 12-15 September. The U40 Network aims to raise awareness and help implement the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The objective was to create a strategy for the future of the network including a realistic action plan in accordance with the available resources.
In her opening remarks, Christine M Merkel, from the German Comission for UNESCO, which coordinates the network and facilitated the meeting, invited the network fellows to “Make a decision to make a difference for cultural diversity”.
Five years after the first and only global U40 meeting in Paris (June 2009), this meeting critically evaluated its work as an international network of cultural cooperation. Over 30 members from over 20 countries participated in the meeting to rethink the strategy of the network for the next five years.
What we came to do
The meeting also served to discuss new challenges in global policy debates related to the Convention. These include the role of culture in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, the role and impact of digital media in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, and the changing position of the “exception culturelle” in international free trade negotiations.
“Culture must be recognized as a driver and enabler for sustainable development in the post-2015 agenda negotiations”, said Lázaro Rodríguez, U40 member from Cuba.
What we achieved
The meeting resulted in two main outcomes. First, it allowed the network to update its vision and mission, to incorporate challenges that arose since the adoption of the Convention and the previous meeting. Second, it led to a draft action plan for the next five years.
Anna Steinkamp, from the German UNESCO Commission, has been the driving force of the U40 network since its start in 2006. As she moves on to a new role, all network fellows used the opportunity to thank her for work and commitment. Addressing the U40 members, she stated: “My transition is an opportunity to further strengthen the network through a stronger member commitment. I hand over the responsability to you. Take Action!”