Culture – defined by UNESCO as “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of a society or a social group” – is an essential component of human development, giving people and nations a source of identify and contributing to social inclusion. Intercultural dialogue plays an essential role in achieving peace and sustainable development outcomes and empowers peoples and nations to play an active role in development initiatives, guaranteeing that everyone benefits from development.
In recognition of the importance of culture as a driving force for development, UNESCO celebrates World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development every year on May 21. The day provides an opportunity to better understand and celebrate the potential of the world’s diverse cultures for achieving sustainable development goals.
The fundamental aim of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and the UNESCO culture conventions alike is to remind us that diversity is just as essential for the cultural world as it is for the living world.Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO
At the Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC), our global network of 1000 plus university-affiliated scholars and development experts highlights the importance of diversity in development work. Research Network (RN) members are present in 76 countries across 465 institutions and their technical sector expertise cover a range of topics from education to human rights and governance to crisis and conflict. Of the current members, almost 4 in 10 network members identify as women and over half of RN members are non-US based researchers. Among US-based researchers, almost one quarter are affiliated to minority-serving institutions.
Culture has the potential to drive sustainable development by providing innovative and effective solutions to cross-cutting issues such as education, health, gender equity and the environment. Continuing to ensure diverse voices in information sharing, data collection, and research means that variety of voices will be present for the exchange of best practices and contribute to decision-making for development practices.
The message of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is more important than ever as we strive to continuous dialogue to ensure that all members of society benefit from sustainable development.