Florence Declaration


We, the participants gathered in Florence on the occasion of the Third UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries “Culture, Creativity and Sustainable Development” (2-4 October 2014) express our gratitude and acknowledge the generous hospitality of the Italian authorities, the Tuscany Region and the City of Florence in providing an international forum to reflect on effective strategies for transformative change that place culture at the heart of future policies for sustainable development.

We recognize our responsibility to pursue an agenda for inclusive social and economic development and environmental sustainability. We believe that this can be achieved through international cooperation demonstrating the value that culture and the cultural industries bring as sources of creativity and innovation for sustainable development and the opportunities they provide for future generations. We recognize the importance of measuring the impact of culture and creativity for sustainable development to maintain it high in the political agenda, and therefore we welcome the will expressed by the City of Florence to host an institution active internationally in this field.

At the present time, when the international community is crafting a new international development agenda, we trust that the United Nations and all governments will fully implement the third Resolution on Culture and Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2013 (A/RES/68/223) which acknowledged the role of culture as an enabler and a driver of sustainable development and which requested that culture be given due consideration in the post-2015 development agenda.

We recognize the numerous voices of civil society and of public and private sector stakeholders that have been expressed in the framework of the Post-2015 Dialogues on Culture and Development, led in 2014 by UNESCO, UNFPA and UNDP, together with national authorities at the highest level in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Mali, Morocco and Serbia, and which re-emphasized the need for explicit acknowledgement of the role of culture in the post-2015 development agenda.

We recall international standard-setting instruments in the field of culture, including the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the UNESCO cultural heritage conventions as well as recent international high-level meetings and declarations, such as the Hangzhou Declaration “Placing Culture at the Heart of Sustainable Development Policies” adopted in May 2013, the 2013 Ministerial Declaration of the high-level segment of the ECOSOC, and the two thematic debates on culture and sustainable development in the post-2015 agenda held at the UN General Assembly in New York in June 2013 and May 2014 respectively, and take good note of the global campaign “The Future We Want Includes Culture” led by non-governmental organizations from some 120 countries (#culture2015goal).

We also acknowledge the substantial evidence gathered in the UN Creative Economy Report, Special Edition 2013: Widening Local Development Pathways, which identifies the key role of cities and regions as actors of change and those areas of sustainable development to which culture brings added value, in both monetary and non-monetary terms, through cultural expressions, safeguarding tangible and intangible heritage, the promotion of cultural diversity, urban planning and architecture.

To fully integrate culture as an overarching principle of all development policies, we call on governments to ensure the integration in the post-2015 development agenda of explicit targets and indicators dedicated to the contribution of culture, notably within the framework of the goals proposed by the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development related to: poverty reduction, sustainable cities and urbanization, quality education, the environment and climate change, gender equality and women’s empowerment, social inclusion, and reconciliation.

Accordingly, and based on our discussions during the Third UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries, we participants recommit to the above- mentioned resolutions and policy documents and put forth the following core principles and priorities to be included in the elaboration process of the post-2015 development agenda.

1)  Full integration of culture into sustainable development policies and strategies at the international, regional, national and local levels is to be based on international standard-setting instruments that recognize fundamental principles of human rights and freedom of expression, cultural diversity, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and the openness to other cultures and expressions of the world.

2)  Inclusive economic and social development requires systems of governance for culture and creativity that meet people’s demands and needs. Transparent, participatory and informed systems of governance for culture involve a diversity of voices, including civil society and the private sector, in policy-making processes that address the rights and interests of all members of society. They also involve cooperation among all relevant public authorities in all sectors – economic, social, and environmental – and at all levels of government.

3)  Urban and rural areas are living laboratories of sustainable development. Placing creativity and well-being at the heart of sustainable urban and rural planning and renewal, balanced with the respect for heritage protection principles, leads to more secure, productive and smart cities. In meeting the challenges of urban and rural development and sustainable tourism, this requires culturally aware policies and respect for diversity. Moreover, safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage (for example, promoting traditional and environmental-friendly farming techniques) leads to more sustainable and quality food production processes, which are essential to deal with population growth with the least possible impact on the environment.

4)  Creative potential is evenly distributed throughout the world, but cannot always be fully realized by everyone. Similarly, not everyone has access to cultural life, the capacity for creative expression and the possibility to enjoy diverse cultural goods and services, including his or her own. For instance, creative voices from the global South are largely absent. This situation can be improved through support for local production of cultural goods and services, their regional/international distribution and the unhindered mobility of artists and cultural professionals.

5)  Achieving inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning opportunities requires a dual commitment to investing in culture and creativity for all. Local learning, innovation and development processes are strengthened when new talents and new forms of creativity are nurtured. This can lead to the empowerment of women and girls as creators and producers of cultural expressions and as citizens participating in cultural life.

6)  The full potential of the cultural industries at the core of the creative economy must be harnessed to stimulate innovation for economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. When cultural and creative industries become part of overall growth and development strategies, they have proven to contribute to the revitalization of national economies, generate green employment, stimulate local development and foster creativity. Evidence shows that they provide new local development pathways that build on existing skills and knowledge.

7)  Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns requires fully taking into account culture when addressing the use of assets and scarce resources. Human creativity, which involves cultural expressions and the transformative power of innovation, is a unique renewable resource that not only leads to new products but also to new ways of life and of organizing and perceiving our societies and environment. Tapping into creative assets, traditional know-how and skills can effectively contribute to finding imaginative and more effective development outcomes and addressing global challenges, such as the adverse impacts of climate change and unsustainable tourism.

8)  Creativity contributes to building open, socially inclusive and pluralistic societies when diverse sources of inspiration and innovation are released and nurtured. This leads to increased quality of life, and individual and collective well-being. When based on fundamental human rights and principles of freedom of expression, creativity can also enlarge people’s capacities to lead the lives they have reason to value through access to cultural assets and resources in all their diversity. It can free individuals from tensions and conflicts, exclusion and discrimination, ultimately contributing to stability, peace and security.

In accordance with the above-mentioned principles and priorities, we call upon governments, civil society and private sector actors to take action in global partnership to promote creative environments, processes and products by supporting:

1) the enhancement of human and institutional capacities at the regional, national, and local levels, paying special attention to empowering young people, so as to enable a holistic vision of culture and sustainable development for both effective systems of governance of culture and the flourishing of vibrant creative sectors;

2) strengthened legal and policy environments to promote culture, support the emergence of dynamic cultural and creative industries and recognize cities as laboratories of creativity and innovation, heritage safeguarding and environmental sustainability;

3) new partnership models and innovative investment strategies to support research, innovation, local production of cultural goods and services, the development of domestic and regional markets and access to platforms for their distribution/exchange worldwide;

4) advocacy programmes, projects and activities designed by governments and/or civil society to promote the economic, social and environmental dimensions of culture for development, including through the implementation of UNESCO’s culture conventions;

5) the continued production and implementation of benchmarks and impact indicators to monitor and evaluate the contribution of culture to sustainable development, including through the collection, analysis and dissemination of information and statistics as well as best policy practices.