At G20 Ministers’ meeting UNESCO calls for more Investment in Culture

20 September 2021

Ahead of the G20 Summit that will take place in October this year under Italy’s presidency, the G20 Ministers of Culture have issued a Declaration calling for culture to be integrated into national economic and social recovery and longer-termdevelopment strategies.

Gathering in Rome on 29 and 30 July, the culture ministers launched their call from the Colosseum, in the Historic Centre of Rome, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Their meeting was opened by Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy, Dario Franceschini, the country’s Culture Minister, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, who declared: “With this G20 ministerial meeting, we are reinforcing a commitment to make culture central to public policies in one of the main forums for international cooperation”. Reiterating that the pandemic was an opportunity to shape new policies to support artists and culture, she called for an improvement in “the status and social protection of creators” and underlined the need to address “the unequal distribution of value between creators and digital platforms”.

She also called for strong commitments in the face of the evolution of threats to cultural heritage. In this regard, she commended recent decisions taken by Italy, including the ban of large cruise ships from Venice, as well as the launch of a special Task Force for the protection of heritage, as concrete proposals to harness the full potential of heritage for societies.

The Ministers of Culture of G20 countries, whose combined economies represent 80% of global GDP, and 9 representatives of intergovernmental organizations, examined ways to build the cultural sector back better. Ministers looked at ways to support the ability of culture, one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to contribute to recovery as a driver of long-term socio-economic development, resilience and well-being, in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 2021 International year for Creative Economy.

“The G20 Culture Declaration has the capacity to conjugate memory and vision,” declared Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy.

Dario Franceschini, Minister of Culture of Italy for his part said, “Protecting culture, as UNESCO does, means contributing to international dialogue, to the recognition of and respect for diversity.”

The G20 Ministers of Culture adopted a Declaration urging their governments to prioritize investments in the culture sector and related activities. The declaration recognizes the contribution of cultural industries, cultural heritage and cultural tourism to economic growth and long-term social development, expanding jobs and a skilled labour force. The cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and related activities contribute $ 2,250 billion, i.e. $2.25 trillion, to the global economy, representing up to 3% of GDP according to UNESCO’s report Cultural Times. Some 29.5 million people are employed in the CCIs, and more young people aged 15 to 29 work in the sector than any other.

The G20 Ministers of Culture Declaration aims to incite G20 Leaders to recognize the need to scale up investments in the culture sector in the Final Declaration of the G20 Summit. These efforts aim to pave the way for the permanent integration of culture in the G20 and in the run up to the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development MONDIACULT 2022 to be held in Mexico next year.