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At World Culture Forum, a Call for Openness and Understanding (Indonesia)
an article by Ezra Sihite, Jakarta Globe

Delegates from 45 countries have come together for the first World Culture Forum in Bali, an event organized by the Indonesia’s Education and Culture Ministry and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, aimed at promoting culture as key in the establishment of sustainable ties and development among nations.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono greets Nobel laureate Amartya Sen at the first World Culture Forum in Bali on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

click on photo to enlarge

“We already have a World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum for critical discussions on globalization and all its aspects. However, we are yet to have a global forum for meaningful dialogues on the importance of culture,” said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening of the WCF on Monday. “This forum will discuss in depth how culture can contribute to achieving sustainable development.”

He said the WCF would serve as a platform on which nations could build mutual understanding as well as better appreciate cultural diversity. “This World Culture Forum is designed to complement and strengthen existing initiatives, including those under the framework of UNESCO,” Yudhoyono said, highlighting that the platform should also contribute in boosting local and national cultural communities to grow amid globalization.

According to the organizers, the forum has drawn up to 800 participants from 45 different countries. “There are also 17 government ministers [from different countries],” Education Minister Mohammad Nuh said, adding that he hoped the forum would provide room for nations to exchange information on their cultures. Also present at the event was Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, as well as prominent Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria, who were invited as keynote speakers, among other panelists.

During his opening speech, Yudhoyono emphasized that culture should become an important source of income for citizens of a nation. He cited a UN report that showed that cultural and creative industries represented one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the global economy with a growth rate reaching 9.7 percent in Asia, 13.9 percent in Africa, 17.6 percent in the Middle East, 11.9 percent in South America and 4.3 percent in North and Central America. “Indonesia has taken a number of measures to make culture a driver of sustainable development. This includes the development of sustainable cultural tourism and cultural infrastructure,” he said.

Additionally, the president said that culture was also critical for nations to maintain stability and order, elements important to development efforts. “Today, there are countries which remain under conflict … therefore, nurturing a culture of peace is essential to achieving sustainable development,” he said.

Nuh echoed Yudhoyono’s statements and said culture could be used as a tool to tackle various social issues. “Through culture, people will live life in harmony,” he said.

According to Nuh, the idea of holding a World Culture Forum was first conceived in 2005. The event, he said, is hoped to promote culture not only as an element of social connectivity but also as a supporting element to strengthen globalization.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova expressed her support for the event, emphasizing the importance of culture in today’s civilization.


Question(s) related to this article:

Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

It is very appropriate that this new impulse for the culture of peace at UNESCO should come from Côte d’Ivoire, since the global movement for a culture of peace was initiated at a UNESCO conference in that country in 1989.  See Yamoussoukro and Seville in the early history of the culture of peace.

Note added on September 2:

The official reports from the UNESCO Conference in Abidjian are now available:



This report was posted on December 22, 2013.