Last week, representatives from around the world gathered in Mexico City for UNESCO’s MONDIACULT 2022, the largest world conference devoted to culture in the last 40 years.
MONDIACULT 2022 brought together 2,600 participants, including 135 ministers of culture, 83 NGOs, 32 intergovernmental organizations, and nine UN agencies.
Childhood Education International was present at the conference as an official NGO observer and was represented by Chief Operations Officer Jonathan Apikian. CE International has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
At the conference, world representatives discussed various aspects of culture focused around four thematic areas:
- Renewed and strengthened cultural policies
- Heritage and cultural diversity in crisis
- Culture for sustainable development
- The future of creative economy
Side events focused on issues such as partnerships for inclusive and sustainable policies and rethinking approaches to education.
For more than a year leading up to the conference, important multilateral negotiations took place to develop the declaration that would address all aspects of cultural policies in the light of contemporary challenges around education, equality, and advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the conclusion of the conference, 150 states unanimously adopted an ambitious Declaration for Culture.
Declaration for Culture & Sustainable Development Goals
The new Declaration for Culture affirms culture as a “global public good” and calls for culture to be included as a specific objective in its own right among the next UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were adopted in 2016 and outline a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
The 2030 Agenda reflects a broad, more holistic approach to sustainable development that puts forward linkages and synergies between different policy areas. It is structured around the 17 SDGs and 169 Targets connected to these goals, which provide a framework for policy design and implementation at the local, national, and international levels. The 17 SDGs are grouped into “5 Ps”: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships, reflecting the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability (people, planet and prosperity), as well as its two critical conditions (peace and partnerships).
The international community has recognized – for the first time – the role of culture in sustainable development. Culture contributes both as a sector of activity in itself and as an intrinsic component present in other sectors – including education, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, the environment, promoting gender equality, innovation, and peaceful and inclusive societies.
The role of culture can be addressed both as a driver that contributes directly to bringing about economic and social benefits, and also as an enabler that contributes to the effectiveness of development interventions.
Measuring Progress in Education
Education is the focus of SDG 4, which is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Even prior to COVID-19, the world was struggling to meet this goal, and education was deeply disrupted by the pandemic, resulting in more children out of school and substantial learning losses.
At MONDIACULT 2022 and in the Declaration for Culture, the need to enhance synergies between culture and education were highlighted. The Declaration points to the importance of context-relevant education that includes cultural heritage, history, and traditional knowledge, and the ways in which expanded learning outcomes and quality education can foster systemic integration of culture into education. There are also connections between technical and vocational education in the cultural sector, and the need for investment in educational institutions such as museums and libraries.
The SDGs are an integral part of advancing CE International’s mission and vision. In order to achieve our goals, cross-sector cooperation that advances the interdependence of SDG 4 and other goals is necessary, and collaboration facilitated by diplomatic interactions among diverse actors and entities at all levels helps drive innovative solutions to education challenges.
As we seek to develop and amplify innovative solutions to education challenges that affirm children’s learning and development, we also work toward sustainable futures for all. Education and learning are the foundation of all aspects of human development and world progress, and sustainable human progress is underpinned by the nexus of education and development.