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Culturelink review, no.37/August 2002 - contents - imprint - archive

The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity

Sustaining diversity through cultural goods and services

The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity (See Culturelink Special Issue 2001 Convergence, Creative Industries and Civil Society: The New Cultural Policy and the text 'Towards a Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity' by Guiomar Alonso Cano (pp. 69-73).), a UNESCO partnership initiative (2002-2007), aims to create new opportunities for cultural diversity and expression and pluralism of ideas, to strengthen local cultural industries, to contribute to the elimination of poverty, ensure sustainable socio-economic development, and encourage the respect for international copyright regulations. It also calls for promoting more effective mechanisms for the prevention of piracy, building local capacity to increase competitive participation in domestic and international markets, increasing availability of diverse affordable cultural products worldwide, and establishing new modalities for international cooperation based on solidarity and the win-win principle.

The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity looks to provide new opportunities for cultural stakeholders to combine efforts towards ensuring a more diversified and equitable array of cultural goods and services worldwide. The Global Alliance will build on two strategic pillars: the development of local cultural industries and the prevention of piracy. Activities in these areas will be supported through newly established partnerships and UNESCO's special extra-budgetary fund. The Global Alliance will operate in collaboration with other international and UN bodies. As indicated in UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy (2002-2007), it will be re-examined and evaluated according to results and adjusted as needed, without calling into question its principles.

The context

Cultural industries, based on books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, records, cassettes, films, video, crafts and design, are key components of today's world markets and domestic economies. Globalization and recent technological developments, including e-commerce, offer societies unprecedented opportunities to expand their cultural industries with cheaper and faster production/ distribution systems as well as larger audiences.

And yet, globalization is not benefiting all equally, as the growing digital divide demonstrates. While creative diversity as expressed through cultural industries can be a strong contributor to sustainable development, current trends such as technological convergence, freer movement of goods, services and capital, as well as market mergers and acquisitions, often jeopardize potential growth, particularly in developing countries and those in transition. Cultural industries are increasingly concentrated amongst the few players who have advanced technical capacities for producing and distributing creative products. New technologies have also made piracy of cultural products easier and faster. While weak copyright legislation and enforcement force local industries to struggle against cheaper pirated products, cultural sector stakeholders from all countries suffer consequent losses of profits, jobs, revenue and investment.

Involving the private sector and civil society in the realization of development projects emanating from the political will of States and other public bodies is a key concern of many international institutions, particularly those within the UN system. Cultural industries must integrate this collaborative approach. Given its long-term experience with the culture sector, it is important that UNESCO be an active player in this domain.

How does the Global Alliance work?

Strengthening local cultural industries through partnerships...

The Global Alliance will promote bilateral and multilateral North/South partnerships amongst businesses, governments, civil society organizations and intergovernmental bodies to develop local cultural industries capable of competing in today's global markets. It will draw on increasing private sector commitment to projects that are sustainable and that correspond with the public sector's need for innovative development strategies and civil society's demands for creative diversity.

UNESCO will facilitate the establishment of partnerships that offer solutions for the many challenges related to the creation, production and distribution of diverse cultural goods and services, including:

  • Providing technical expertise, resources and training, particularly in business-related fields such as marketing, finance, sales, and copyright management;
  • Increasing awareness of available or potential local and international opportunities for business development;
  • Enhancing cooperation amongst public and private sectors in areas relating to culture;
  • Broadening capacity for cultural enterprise development, entrepreneurship, long-term planning and investment in research and development.

... and through the prevention of piracy...

Local artists and cultural industries are confronted with unfair competition from low-priced pirated works. Although piracy may be viewed by some as a means of making culture accessible to all, failure to address piracy is detrimental to a country's economic, cultural and social development in the long-term. For this reason, the Global Alliance will assist governments in developing, updating and/or enforcing copyright legislation.

...using a dedicated fund.

UNESCO will reinforce partnership agreements through a dedicated fund that will address the potential needs of participating developing countries and countries in transition. This fund will finance the development of policies and regulatory frameworks necessary for domestic cultural industries to benefit and build on partnership agreements. Sector analyses, design of tax reduction programmes and fiscal incentives, development of regulatory mechanisms and copyright enforcement training for judges, lawyers and customs officers will be some of the activities supported by the fund. Particular focus will be placed on the revision and updating of legislation pertaining to targeted cultural industry sectors as well as to copyright.

How can you become a partner in the Global Alliance?

Whether you represent a government or intergovernmental body, a corporation, a small- or medium-size cultural enterprise, a foundation, an NGO, or a non-profit organization, you may participate in the Global Alliance in different ways.

Send UNESCO your proposal for a partnership

Your proposal should include a description of how your interests fit the objectives of the Global Alliance and what services and resources you would like to offer or receive. UNESCO asks you to be as specific as possible about your expertise and your proposed area of activity. In reviewing your proposal, UNESCO will connect you with current partnerships or match you with potential new partners with similar interests.

Become a sponsor

UNESCO will seek donations for the special fund to shoulder Global Alliance partnerships in developing countries and countries in transition. Your financial contribution will support policies and programmes that strengthen local cultural industries while reinforcing piracy prevention mechanisms and respect for international copyright regulations.

To obtain information, submit proposals or make a financial contribution, please contact: The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, UNESCO Division of Arts and Cultural Enterprise, 1, rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France; tel.: 33 (0)1 45 68 43 05; fax: 33 (0)1 45 68 55 95; e-mail: globalalliance@unesco.org; http://www.unesco.org/culture/alliance