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Culturelink review, no.42/April 2004 - contents - imprint - archive

Supporting the Growth of Creative Industries

Synthesis of the Presentation Meeting organised by the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, Paris, 2 December 2003

The purpose

On the eve of the closing of the Phase I of this experimental project inscribed in the UNESCO Mid-term Strategy (2002-2007), a meeting was organized for the Permanent Delegates and Global Alliance partners to present the results achieved by the project in its first two years of operation and discuss the way forward. The meeting was opened by Mr Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. Over 150 participants (73 representatives of 59 States, IGOs, NGOs, private enterprises, copyright societies, universities and the media) were present.

The Project Concept

Ms Milagros del Corral, Deputy Assistant Director-General for Culture, recalled the origins of the Global Alliance (See The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity: Sustaining diversity through cultural goods and services, Culturelink, issue no. 37/August 2002, pp. 21-25; The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity on the move..., issue no. 39/April 2003, pp. 21-23; The Global Alliance on line, issue no. 41/November 2003, p. 34.) as an experimental project adopted by the 31st General Conference with a view to rendering operational the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (Articles 8-12), implementing its Action Plan (Articles 15-20) for the development of cultural industries and copyright enforcement in order to prevent and alleviate the negative consequences of piracy. Ms del Corral briefly situated the 'state of the art' and illustrated the current imbalances in the international flow of cultural goods and services, as well as its impact on cultural diversity, by stressing their hybrid nature as cultural products with an economic value. She further described the project strategy based on a flexible platform for public/private partnerships and the overall objectives of this UNESCO initiative which aims to tackle a wide range of needs throughout the creative industry chain. The targeted areas are book publishing, music, film, audiovisual and multimedia productions, crafts and fashion design, whose common legal foundation is copyright. 170 selected partners (governments, multinational corporations, small and medium-size enterprises, IGOs, NGOs, Foundations, professional associations, etc.) sharing a clear commitment in favour of cultural diversity have already joined the Alliance that also works closely with other UN Agencies and Development Banks. She briefly illustrated the Alliance methodology, its financial mobilization capacity (estimated at $ 850,000 in Phase I), the role of UNESCO as a catalyzer and facilitator and the power of networking to 'make globalization work for culture'. She finally invited all those committed to cultural diversity to provide their support - financially and otherwise - to the Global Alliance and so contribute to helping developing countries and those in transition to achieve the place that their cultures deserve in a globalized scenario.

Forging New Partnerships

High-level officials of the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Ford Foundation, International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), UNCTAD and ILO, representing other IGOs, Foundations and professional associations working with the Global Alliance, illustrated from their own perspectives their organizations' newly formed interest in the growth of the creative industries and copyright protection as key tools for the eradication of poverty, a renewed conception of cooperation for development, citizen's empowerment, capacity-building of local communities, the improvement of trade, employment creation, promotion of creativity, etc. Their common concern about the opportunities and the threats to culture and trade posed by globalization has led them to begin to pay attention to this crucial area for culture and development, to support the Global Alliance in different ways, and to cooperate in some of the projects it generates.

The representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, currently on secondment as Senior Advisor to the Global Alliance, expressed the Bank's interest in developing with UNESCO's Global Alliance the idea of 'satellite accounts', which could measure the weight of cultural industries in a country's economy, and in designing a financial product or mechanism specifically conceived for the development of the cultural industry sectors in Latin America and the Caribbean.

All speakers underlined the impact that can be gained through inter-agency cooperation in this complex issue that requires the varied expertise that the different agencies can provide, the importance of actively associating the private sector and the federating role that the Global Alliance is playing, thanks to its open, flexible approach.

Global Alliance Pilot Projects

The Global Alliance methodology was further developed by its Coordinator, Ms Guiomar Alonso Cano, who also discussed the three project categories, the content and services that could be found on the Global Alliance database and the role of the Alliance tools for policy-makers, entrepreneurs and investors. Her intervention, also described the various tasks fulfilled by the Alliance team and the challenging work it represents in terms of promotion, fund-raising, partner selection, technical assessment and re-engineering of proposals. It also involves networking, periodically reporting to the Alliance community, and multi-partner coordination for each and every single project. To conclude, she commented upon 25 on-going projects, their nature, location and partner involvement, and mentioned the current preparatory work related to some 50 new projects in the pipeline for 2004.

Five case studies were presented: Algeria: Book Policy; Promotion, Marketing and Distribution of Crafts, Design and Museum Products in the USA; Zimbabwe: Developing African Synergy; Jamaica: National Development Strategy for the Jamaican Music Industry; Developing a Market Strategy for Museum Shops in the CIS Countries.


Mr Georges Poussin, Head of UNESCO's Cultural Enterprise and Copyright Section, summarized the meeting discussions and highlighted the power of partnerships to tackle the complex issues such as those related to the development of cultural industries. He welcomed the appropriation of the Alliance concept by all its members, as put forward during the meeting, and recalled that, indeed, the Global Alliance belonged to all those who worked for sustaining cultural diversity through goods and services.

Ms del Corral stated that neighbouring rights were always taken into consideration in the Global Alliance projects and that UNESCO, which co-administered the Rome Convention and also adopted a Recommendation related to the Status of the Artist, was particularly sensitive to this cause. She also mentioned the presence at the meeting of media representatives from various regions, thanked them for their interest and invited them to convey to the public opinion the necessity of supporting the growth of creative industries in developing countries - the most vulnerable in the global cultural ecosystem - as a way to build a better world and to ensure that future generations worldwide would have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with all cultures, through literature, music, images and designs that express the creative talent of all human beings.

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 (1)1 45 68 43 05; fax: 33 (0)1 45 68 55 95; e-mail: globalalliance@unesco.org; http://www.unesco.org/culture/alliance

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UNESCO's Audiovisual E-Platform

A Multicultural Online Catalogue for Independent Producers and Broadcasters

Within the framework of its Programme for Creative Content, aimed at promoting the expression of cultural and linguistic diversity through the media, UNESCO is launching its Audiovisual E-Platform, a new initiative seeking to stimulate the distribution of television content from developing countries at national, regional and international levels.

In recent years, there has been a growing understanding and recognition of the need for cultural diversity and local content in the media. UNESCO's Audiovisual E-Platform is a multicultural, online catalogue that provides access to challenging, unusually creative and highly innovative productions from Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean.

The platform, which will be fully operational in May 2004, consists of recently directed television productions, including documentaries, short fiction films and magazines, that are original in form and content, going beyond conventional forms of television language, as well as a genuine expression of different cultures in the world.

Through this highly secured, professional-restricted, online platform, directors, producers and broadcasters are able to manage and promote their work at local, regional and international levels. At the same time, UNESCO stimulates the distribution of the platform's materials with international broadcasters, distribution networks, festivals, educational institutions and other partners.

The Audiovisual E-Platform was created to empower local producers to reach international audiences while enhancing the effectiveness of the Internet as a medium for communication and delivery. All programmes are available for on-line, full-length screening.

For further information, please contact: Eva Marie Andersen, UNESCO's Audiovisual E-Platform, Communication Development Division, UNESCO, 1, Rue Miollis, 75015 Paris, France.

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UNESCO Publications for the World Summit on the Information Society

As part of the preparation for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which took place in Geneva in December 2003 (See Culturelink no. 40/August 2003, pp. 35-36.), UNESCO published a series of booklets on different topics, emphasising their relevance for the building of a just and participatory knowledge society rather than just the global information society. Focusing information flows alone is not enough for grasping the opportunities for development that are offered by knowledge.

The Status of Research on the Information Society, edited by Kwame Boafo, surveys the research in five research areas in the period from 1998 to 2001, which UNESCO considers necessary if we are to build a just and universal information society. The research areas are the following:

  • ICT and Gender
  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Media and Information Networks
  • Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Information Society
  • ICT and Persons with Disabilities
  • Info-ethics and Universal Access to Information and Knowledge.

By surveying the current state of research in these areas, UNESCO tried to provide researchers with ideas and suggestions to find their way around numerous research projects on various aspects of the use of the ICT. The survey shows the complexity of the term information society, since it touches upon many issues. The present publication is an attempt to offer a progress report on the current state of research in the relevant areas, which are rapidly expanding.

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in the Information Society (CI-2003/WS/07). UNESCO has recognised the importance of cultural diversity since its inception. One of its missions has been to encourage mutual knowledge and understanding between peoples using different means of mass communication. In this publication, UNESCO summarises the activities it has been undertaking that relate to the protection of cultural and linguistic diversity, and it emphasises its importance for the information society. The publication explains the process and the issues related to UNESCO's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, UNESCO's Recommendation on the promotion and use of multilingualism and universal access to cyberspace, and the Charter on the preservation of the digital heritage. The publication deals with issues of copyright in the digital environment, as well as with issues of multilingualism and translation in cyberspace.

Science in the Information Society (CI-2003/WS/6). It has been claimed by many researchers that scientific research is one of the key factors that underpin the development of the information society. One of the crucial issues that remains to be solved in order to achieve participatory information society is bridging the digital divide between the developed and developing countries. This includes not just ensuring access, but also adequately educating users and building mechanisms which, through knowledge and scientific discoveries, can be shared throughout the world. The trend towards the privatization and commercialization of scientific information is threatening open access to global public goods. The booklet summarises the key issues that the scientific community and UNESCO wanted to present at the WSIS.

La mémoire de la société de l'information (Memory of the Information Society) by Jean-Michel Rodes, Genevieve Piejut, Emmanuele Plas. With the rapid development of the Internet, the digital heritage has become very large and is growing constantly. The ICT has become an excellent media for organising different types of human memories, as it integrates different types of information, such as text, image, sound, databases, etc. Digital heritage has many advantages, as it can be easily stored, retrieved and communicated. Still, this type of preserving our records holds risks since the long-term preservation of digital heritage is not an issue that has been resolved, and the management of huge amounts of digital information of different types poses difficulties. This publication discusses issues relating to the preservation of human heritage of different forms: fragility of digital heritage, issues such as virtualisation (dematerialisation and delocation) of records, instability of technology, existing practices of the memory institutions such as archives, libraries and museums, as well as the web in general. The publication also describes problems related to data formats and standards, digitisation techniques, preservation techniques, etc.

Education in and for the Information Society by Cynthia Guttman. Education is an element that has been emphasised by many researchers as one of the most important elements of the information society, and especially if we aspire to build a knowledge society. The importance of education as a human right and its importance for social and economic development has been emphasised by the UN for over a decade. The relationship between the ICT and education is a complex one and it confronts educators, policymakers and the international community with a new spectrum of ethical and legal issues. This publication aims to bring to the attention of a broad audience the potential of the ICT to expand and improve teaching and learning in different contexts, with a specific focus on developing regions and UNESCO's initiatives. It draws attention to issues that have arisen in the context of globalisation, involving cultural diversity, ownership of knowledge and equity.

Measuring and Monitoring the Information and Knowledge Societies: A Statistical Challenge. The focus of this report are data systems and measurement issues with regard to the ICT, including aspects of data availability, international comparability and quality, as well as their content. Its aim is to support the development of national, regional and international data systems and indicators that are comprehensive, policy relevant and reliable for the proper understanding, monitoring and development of sustainable development and equitable information society. The first part of the report includes an assessment of selected global ICT data from a variety of sources, followed by a discussion on the limitation of the existing data, as well as barriers and problems that might be encountered in collecting such data. The final part of this report discusses what data might be of value to collect in the future and it concludes with a series of recommendations.

The publications from this series are also available online at the UNESCO portal at http://portal.unesco.org.