Why development needs culture

Francesco Bandarin (ADG/CLT, UNESCO, Paris, France)
Jyoti Hosagrahar (Sustainable Urbanism, Columbia University, New York, USA)
Frances Sailer Albernaz (Culture Sector, UNESCO, Paris, France)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Publication date: 27 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is to account for and to justify the UN's recent appeal to “all Member States, intergovernmental bodies, organizations of the United Nations system and relevant non‐governmental organizations […] to ensure a more visible and effective integration and mainstreaming of culture in development policies and strategies at all levels”.


The paper delves into the history of ideas leading up to the UN's belated recognition of culture's influence (a full ten years into the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)). It shows how the post‐Second World War intuitions embraced in UNESCO's Constitution matured in the course of the nation‐building and decolonization processes that have given way to today's context of advanced globalization.


Against that background, rising international awareness of the issues involved in the environment‐development nexus conspired with growing concern for the safeguarding of world heritage and cultural diversity, finally culminating in the establishment of specific international standards that call for sustainable, integrated approaches to development.


Drawing from UNESCO's experience, the paper provides compelling evidence in support of the idea that culture, creative industries and cultural heritage contribute a great deal to development, in terms not only of quantitative economic growth (income, employment), but also of qualitative standards of equity and well‐being. In light of such criteria, examples are offered and plans are laid out for concerted action in view of attaining the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and of building on from there.



Bandarin, F., Hosagrahar, J. and Sailer Albernaz, F. (2011), "Why development needs culture", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 15-25. https://doi.org/10.1108/20441261111129906

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