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PGA High-level Event on Culture and Sustainable Development

“Building back better: towards a more resilient and impactful

culture sector, throughout COVID-19 and the Decade of Action”

Friday, 21 May 2021

10am-1pm, 3pm-6pm EDT

Mr. President of the General Assembly,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the African Group.

- At the outset, I would like to commend the President of the General Assembly for organizing this important High-Level event on Culture and Sustainable Development in the current challenging times. We also thank UNESCO and UNCTAD for their valuable and substantive contribution to the success of this event.

- The African continent is universally recognized for its cultural and natural diversity and for the richness of its arts. Expressed through its crafts, clothing, cuisine, music, and languages, the wealth of African culture serves as a catalyst for the socio-economic development of the African continent.

- The African group recognizes that culture is an essential component of human development, that it represents a source of identity, innovation and creativity for the individual and the community and that it is an important factor in social inclusion and poverty eradication, providing for sustainable economic growth and ownership of development processes.

Mr. President,

- As we are facing an unprecedented Global crisis, and as we have the urgent and collective task to achieve an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Group firmly believes that the cultural sector continues to play a crucial role in the achievement of sustainable development in its three dimensions in the context of the decade for action and the COVID-19 era.

- The Cultural and Creative industries (CCIs) contribute significantly to the Gross domestic product. while preserving and promoting cultural heritages and diversity, the CCIs have an enormous potential in enhancing developing countries’ participation in and benefit from new and dynamic growth opportunities in world trade especially, in the post-covid-19 context.

- In this regard, and in recognition of the importance of CCIs in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Agenda 2063, the African Union declared the Year 2021 as “The AU Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”. This theme, adopted in the current challenging year, aims to bring the necessary attention for promoting national and regional cohesion by investing in African culture and heritage as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development and for the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

- We would like to highlight also, that we are also celebrating Africa’s culture through the Africa Dialogue Series: ADS 2021- a flagship event of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA). This year’s edition makes culture and heritage at the center of the discussions and highlight their interlinkages with peace, security and sustainable development.

Mr. President,

- The African Group would like to highlight that there is a strong need for boosting investment in support of strengthening the heritage and cultural sector in Africa. The African countries endeavor tremendous efforts in creating the momentum for heritage assets, empowering creative industries, as well as promoting cultural diversity and social inclusion. Yet, the cultural and natural heritage in Africa is exposed to a number of threats and challenges, including climate change, limited infrastructure and financial resource, and currently the devastating socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

- We are all aware that culture is among the areas that has been mostly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The necessary measures imposed to prevent the expansion of COVID-19 have triggered a change in social behavior, affecting African traditional socio-cultural norms and values that revolve around communal living and social gatherings. Furthermore, the pandemic has also led to the cancellation of many arts and cultural events, disrupting the creative economic sector which was already facing significant challenges.

- In this regard, and as Africa is working for building forward better, the African group stresses that: - strengthening the resilience of cultural industries, promoting quality education at all levels, -empowering local investors especially women and young entrepreneurs, -supporting the creative-led Small and Medium Enterprises and finding ways to maintain and promote the role of culture and creative industries in economic growth and achieving sustainable development are for us a priority.

Finally, Mr. President,

- The African Group would like to seize this opportunity to call for stronger actions in terms of: Technology and knowledge transfer, bridging the digital gap and boosting multi-stakeholder partnerships, in which the private sector plays a key role.

- Africa’s cultural and natural heritage is unique and valuable. Africa has a richness in culture, biodiversity and natural resources that have been accumulated over millions of years providing for critical ecosystem services, extraordinary cultural diversity, and a wealth of cultural heritage resources as well as local knowledge that are strategic assets for sustainable development.

- The African group remains engaged to develop the continent’s creative sector in partnership with our development partners, elevate the overall Africa’s share of voice in the global creative market and thus enhance the crucial contribution and role of culture in achieving sustainable development.

- I thank you for your kind attention.

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