Montréal, june 12th 2013 - Before the Members of the United Nations, the Ville de Montréal today made an important plea for culture as an indispensable pillar of development. The presentation was part of a debate on culture and development convened in New York by the President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremić, in the presence of Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon.
On behalf of all members of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG),and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Ville de Montréal and responsible for culture, heritage and design, as well as Co-Chair of the UCLG's Committee on Culture, Élaine Ayotte urged the UN General Assembly to include a goal specifically related to culture in its Agenda for Post-2015 Development. She also appealed for greater cooperation between policymakers involved in culture and development.
Towards a new Millennium Goal based on culture
“Culture draws its inspiration from creativity, heritage, knowledge and diversity,” Élaine Ayotte declared. “These values are inextricably linked to human freedom and social progress. They are recognized as elements of sustainable development, on a local, national and international scale.” This position, supported by UNESCO, encourages the recognition of culture in the UN's development programs, as the international community is set to revise the Millennium Development Goals for 2000-2015.
Culture as a springboard and catalyst for sustainable development
“The objective of the 1,000 city members of UCLG, which includes Montreal, is to establish the relationship between culture and sustainable development, from a dual perspective,” Élaine Ayotte explained. “First, we must support the development of the cultural sector per se, by means of strong cultural policies. Culture will then become a springboard for development. Next, we must incorporate culture in all public policies as a catalyst for long-term development.”
United local and regional governments
Élaine Ayotte also summarized and submitted several recent initiatives of the UCLG, including the Rio + 20 declaration on culture, and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments for post-2015 and the 2016 Habitat III Conference. In setting up this taskforce last March, the local and regional governments pledged to end extreme poverty in all its forms, and to put in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all, in a context of sustainable development that includes the social, environmental, economic and cultural spheres.
“We, the cities, recognize the powerful potential of culture to bolster development. And we expect our members to contribute to this global movement,” Élaine Ayotte concluded.
Ten years of work and reflection
This address at the UN headquarters by the UCLG, represented by the city of Montreal, reflected the work and analyses conducted by the city members of the UCLG over the past decade, which led to last year's Hangzhou Declaration (UNESCO) in China last May.
Next year, UCLG will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Agenda 21 for culture, which it is committed to promoting. The Agenda is the first document with the world-wide mission of encouraging cities and local governments to act in favour of culture, based on sustainable development, participation, peace, inclusion and diversity.