The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity that was adopted in September 2015 by the international community and outlines a vision for a more sustainable future. The Agenda calls upon all countries, over a fifteen year period, to mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. The 2030 Agenda is structured around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (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” of 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 2030 Agenda thus reflects a broad, holistic approach to sustainable development that puts forward linkages and synergies between different policy areas. This bold vision demands creative approaches beyond the typical linear and sectoral ones.
With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the international community has recognised – for the first time – the role of culture in sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda implicitly refers to culture across many of its Goals and Targets but in the objective 11 “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable “ there is an explicit link to cultural heritage safeguarding. In fact, the 11.4 objective aims at Strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Culture contributes both as a sector of activity in itself and as an intrinsic component present in other sectors. While the safeguarding and promotion of culture represents an end in itself, it also contributes transversally to many of the SDGs — including those on sustainable cities, 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.
In this context, UNESCO is strongly committed to ensuring that the transformative power of culture in enabling sustainable development continues. For this reason, It worked to develop the Thematic Indicators for Culture in the 2030 Agenda (Culture|2030 Indicators – https://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/publication_culture_2020_indicators_en.pdf). The initiative is an innovative effort to establish a methodology for demonstrating culture’s role and contribution to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It aims to help decision-makers by building a coherent and strong narrative on culture and development that is evidence-based. The development of a new framework for measuring and collecting data on culture is foundational both for advocating for the role of culture in the SDGs, as well as for integrating culture into development plans and policies at the national and urban levels and within the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF). The Culture|2030 Indicators build upon and enhance existing instruments and data including the Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS) of UIS, the Culture for Development Indicators Suite (CDIS), the Culture Conventions periodic reporting mechanisms and other monitoring mechanisms and methodologies in the specific context of the 2030 Agenda. The national and urban levels and within the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF). The Culture|2030 Indicators build upon and enhance existing instruments and data including the Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS) of UIS, the Culture for Development Indicators Suite (CDIS), the Culture Conventions periodic reporting mechanisms and other monitoring mechanisms and methodologies in the specific context of the 2030 Agenda.
Concepts of sustainable development lie at the core of the UNESCO Culture Conventions and programmes, each of them bringing a specific perspective or focus in line with its individual scope and conceptual framework. With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, all of the Conventions have incorporated relevant SDGs within their implementation and monitoring mechanisms by aligning their concepts and identifying specific SDGs or Targets to be integrated into their results framework.
As international normative instruments whose implementation relies strongly on international cooperation and capacity building, all six UNESCO Culture Conventions are direct contributors to SDG 17.