Preface: The Bali Promise (2013) was adopted by the first World Culture Forum, Bali, Indonesia, 26 Nov., 2013.
The World Culture Forum (WCF) took place in Bali, Indonesia, 23-27 November 2013, and brought together delegates from 45 countries and included over 1,000 participants. The WCF was held by the Government of Indonesia under the patronage of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), concluded with the adoption of the ‘Bali Promise,’ which emphasizes the importance of culture for development, particularly in the post-2015 development agenda.
The WCF was officially opened by the President of the Republic of Indonesia H.E Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. During his opening remarks H.E Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated
“we already have a World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum for critical discussions on globalization and all its aspects. However, we are yet to have a global forum for meaningful dialogues on the importance of culture”.
He further added
“Strategic changes demand that culture in all its manifestations be championed as an indispensable agent of change and reconciliation in the face of unprecedented globalization.”
and that the
“WCF is designed to complement and strengthen existing initiatives, including those under the framework of UNESCO”.
In his opening remarks, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also underlined the need for a “global forum for meaningful dialogues on the importance of culture,” calling for “culture in all its manifestations” to be “championed as an indispensable agent of change and reconciliation in the face of unprecedented globalization.”
The Director General (DG) of UNESCO Ms. Irina Bokova also delivered a message by video during the Forum in which she congratulated the leadership of the Republic of Indonesia in hosting the significant event. In her video message, she provided an overview of UNESCO’s work in the area of culture for development. She stressed that “there can be no full ownership, no full participation of development strategies without the full integration of culture.”
In her remarks the DG outlined the extensive work UNESCO is doing in the field of culture for development while emphasizing that
“culture is who we are. It shapes what we do and how we see the world. It is also a force for dialogue, for building bridges of respect and mutual understanding between people and communities, “
“there can be no full ownership, no full participation of development strategies without the full integration of culture.”
Plurality of cultural identity is the key to human progress. This was the essence of an inspirational keynote speech delivered by Dr Amartya Sen, who won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1998. He added:
“We have to save globalization from being exploited for the cultivation of divisiveness and inter-group hostility,…, and instead draw on global cultural interactions to advance our future, even as we admire the past.”
A key element of the Forum’s programme was six themed symposium that brought together experts to discuss and debate issues around culture for sustainable development. The overarching theme of the WCF was “The Power of Culture in Sustainable Development”, and the Forum featured the following six themed symposium:
- Holistic Approaches to Culture in Development;
- Civil Society and Cultural Democracy;
- Creativity and Cultural Economics;
- Culture in Environmental Sustainability;
- Sustainable Urban Development;
- Inter-Faith Dialogue and Community Building.
The World Culture Forum concluded with the adoption by participants of the Bali Promise, which calls for a measurable and effective role, as well as the integration of culture in development at all levels in the post-2015 development agenda.
The Bali Promise also includes ten recommendations on explicitly integrating the cultural dimension of development throughout the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including by:
- finding new modalities for valuing and measuring culture in sustainable development;
- developing accountable and ethical frameworks for evidence-based measures of community engagement and stakeholder benefits;
- fostering new participatory models promoting cultural democracy and social inclusion;
- mainstreaming gender concerns; supporting the leadership of young people in cultural endeavors;
- promoting local knowledge systems;
- and developing and strengthening public-private partnerships.
The World Culture Forum converged to the Bali Promise, a set of 10 recommendations with a pledge to support the leadership of young people pursuing cultural endeavors, to champion gender mainstreaming and to develop partnerships between the public and private sectors. This plan has already become part of Indonesia national policy.
The World Culture Forum
The World Culture Forum (WCF) was the first in a series of international forums to take place in the region with the aim of creating a permanent space to challenge established thinking and identify solutions for embedding culture as part of sustainable development. The forum follows hot on the heels of the UN’s Creative Economy report which outlines the extent that cultural and creative industries boost the global economy.
In the making since 2005, the WCF became a reality under the patronage of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the president of the Republic of Indonesia. Hundreds of university students and local volunteers were rallied by the secretariat to help support the event delivery and logistics.
The intended outcome of the forum was to help shape the next strategic phase before the UN’s Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015 and ensure the role of culture is fully acknowledged in future. The WCF brought together 1,360 delegates and performing artists from across 67 countries, as well as 12 ministers of culture, ambassadors and national representatives, who took part in the roundtable discussions alongside senior policy-makers, NGO officials and cultural practitioners.
CNN’s editor at large, Fareed Zakaria, acknowledged in his keynote speech that culture is the elixir of a country’s development, but questioned whether a nation’s economic success (or lack of) can be attributed to its culture alone. Certain cultural traits can open the path to economic development, he conceded, such as China’s willingness to champion learning and benchmark from the best.
But a common challenge for developing nations is to modernise while retaining their own culture and avoid becoming cheap copies of the West. “I pity the anthropologist,” said Zakaria. “There are no natives left to study because they are all drinking Starbucks.”
The Brundtland Commission (whose mission it is to unite countries to pursue sustainable development) has set out its three main dimensions as economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. But culture ought to be established as the fourth pillar, asserted Jordi Pascual, coordinator of Agenda 21 for Culture, which is lobbying for culture to be placed at the heart of national and international development.
A refreshingly diverse panel of speakers went on to showcase the role of culture in developing a civil and democratic society. For me, the most striking presentation was given by Yenny Rahmayati, who set up a cultural heritage movement in the Aceh region of Indonesia following the devastation of the tsunami in 2004. Her slides illustrated in explicit detail the damage to local cultural heritage and track the rehabilitation and reconstruction that emerged independently from local government – a real testimony of volunteer-led self-empowerment.
Mark Miller, convenor of Tate Britain and Tate Modern’s young people programmes, also shared his experience of Circuit, a collaborative project that provides opportunities for young people to steer their own learning and create cultural activity across art disciplines.
The forum culminated in the Bali Promise, a declaration to deliver on the actions proposed at its roundtable discussions. Among 10 recommendations shortlisted were pledges to support the leadership of young people pursuing cultural endeavours, to champion gender mainstreaming and to develop partnerships between the public and private sectors.
The Bali Promise has already been enshrined in Indonesian law and will be obligatory for successive governments to evolve into a measurable set of aims and concrete policies and programmes using an evidenced-based approach. As a member state of the United Nations, Indonesia intends to champion cultural leadership using the Bali Promise as leverage to influence the framing of the Sustainable Millennium Goals.
Meanwhile, organisers hope that the WCF will become part of the global agenda shaping culture in development, in a similar way that Davos in Switzerland has evolved over the decades to impact on global policy, and likewise, in the way that the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit influences the sustainable development agenda.
The next WCF is set to take place in Bali by 2016. In the meantime, a bridging project is being set up online to aggregate and distribute current and emerging information related to culture and the post-2015 development agenda and help the global cultural sector communicate its work to a wider audience.
What is the Post-2015 Development Agenda?
Focusing on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was a top priority for the United Nations up to 2015. The process of arriving at the post 2015 development agenda was Member State-led with broad participation from Major Groups and other civil society stakeholders.
The United Nations has played a facilitating role in the global conversation on the post 2015 development agenda and supported broad consultations. It also has the responsibility of supporting Member States by providing evidence-based inputs, analytical thinking and field experience.
The UN General Assembly called upon the Secretary-General to synthesize the full range of inputs and to present a synthesis report before the end of 2014 as a contribution to the intergovernmental negotiations in the lead up to the Summit.
There has been numerous inputs to the agenda, notably a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by an open working group of the General Assembly, the report of an intergovernmental committee of experts on sustainable development financing, GA dialogues on technology facilitation and many others.
The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is the central UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015.
23-26 Oct., 2013.
The first World Culture Forum, Bali, Indonesia, 23-27 Nov., 2013.
- It underlines that culture is a driver, enabler and enricher of sustainable development.
- It strongly recommends that the cultural dimension of development be explicitly integrated in all the sustainable development goals (SDPs) in the post-2015 development agenda taking into consideration.
- It recognizes the World Culture Forum (WCF) as a permanent platform for promoting the role of culture in sustainable development and the safeguarding of the cultural and linguistic diversity of humanity.
- Bali Promise (2013)
- Press Release:
- Post-2015 Development Agenda
- High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
- United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 (25 – 27 September 2015, New York)
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- UNESCO and the Sustainable Development Goals
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)