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Introduction

Culturelink review, Special Issue 2002/2003 - imprint - archive

Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development in the Focus of the International Community

Ours is a time of ever faster changes, and we live in societies which are, or are increasingly becoming, multicultural and ready to participate in open and dynamic intercultural communication. In our time, we are increasingly aware of the fact that cultural diversity is the most valuable legacy left to us by our forebears and that it is our duty to leave it to the future generations. The recognition of differences between cultures as the key constituent of their identity and an element that stimulates dialogue and cooperation is indeed a phenomenon of our time.

This is the reason why the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted at the 31st Session of the General Conference in 2001, stresses that the dignity of cultures, the dialogue between them, and thus their enrichment with new insights and values, tolerance and cooperation, are the best investment into international peace and stability. To understand, value and stimulate diversity, as well as to have the "will to live together", is the central idea to be discussed by the 32nd Session of the General Conference in October this year in preparation of the Convention on Cultural Diversity. Simultaneously with the UNESCO General Conference, two network conferences will be held at Opatija, Croatia - the International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD) and the International Network for Cultural Policy (INCP). The main theme of both conferences will be cultural diversity, which shows that in an increasingly globalized world, the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity is a gigantic challenge that requires international cooperation and solidarity.

The concept of cultural diversity is indeed complex and multi-layered. It embraces diverse meanings and domains - from multicultural society and minorities to linguistic diversity. A specially sensitive area is the audiovisual sector and the liberalization of trade in cultural goods and services, with the attendant danger of treating cultural goods “like any other commodity”.

The complexity of the concept of cultural diversity is very well represented in the texts included in this Special Issue. The authors approach this phenomenon from different angles - the close relationship between diversity and sustainable development, the concept of cultural rights and cultural policy, the developmental imbalance, the position of the audiovisual industries and copyright, the multiple identities of an individual, biodiversity and ethno-diversity. Just as diverse as the topics is the manner in which they are presented: we find here theoretical papers and essays, but we also find poetry.

The authors are members of the Culturelink Network, and the Culturelink team appreciates their valuable contributions. Our special thanks go to Mrs. Katérina Stenou, Director of the Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue at UNESCO, for her support for this Special Issue.

The topic of diversity will continue to preoccupy us, and it might be useful to bring the same group of people together again, so that they can continue debating and developing the issues raised here, and - who knows - such a gathering might bring us closer to new development models advocated by the authors in this Special Issue.

Biserka Cvjetičanin
Honorary Director of the Culturelink Network