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News : International : Organization of American States (OAS) Last Updated: May 7, 2015 - 7:57:38 AM

Ministers of Culture of the Americas Issue Call to Recognize Contributions of Culture to Countries' Economic Growth
Nov 10, 2011 - 8:49:09 PM

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Alfonso Quiñónez, OAS Secretary for External Relations Photo: Patricia Leiva/OAS

The Ministers of Culture and Highest Authorities convened by the Organization of American States (OAS) today made a call to the Member States to recognize the contributions of culture to the economic growth of countries, and particularly to the "creation of new employment in non-traditional areas and the acquisition of new skills." Also, in a joint communiqué, they encouraged governments in the region to "consider increased funding for culture, and to strengthen efforts to quantify the impact of culture on economic growth."

The Fifth Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities was held yesterday and today at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, with the participation of Secretary General José Miguel Insulza; the Chair of the Permanent Council of the Organization and Representative of Guyana, Ambassador Bayney Karran; the Chair of the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI) and Representative of St. Kitts and Nevis to the OAS, Ambassador Jacinth Henry-Martin; the Coordinator of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in April 2012, Ambassador Juan Jaime Girón; as well as the highest authorities on culture from countries of the region.

Under the theme of "Culture, common denominator for integral development," the event, part of the celebrations of 2011 as the Inter-American Year of Culture, was an opportunity to establish new strategies to promote this sector and its important function in the economic, social and human development of the countries of the region. In this sense, the ministers asserted that culture is "a common denominator for the integral development of the peoples of the Americas," and that "it offers rich opportunities for cooperation and exchange aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence, understanding, civic engagement and mutual respect."

Furthermore, they renewed their call to "strengthen synergies with the education, tourism, labor, economic and financial sectors, among others, in order to maximize the contribution of culture to integral development," and encouraged "the integration of cultural components, with an emphasis on intercultural dialogue and youth participation, in programs and projects aimed at preventing violence and promoting a democratic citizenry."

The representatives of the Member States also made a commitment to present a report on the results and conclusions of their deliberations at the next meeting of the Summits Implementation Review Group (SIRG), to be analyzed in relation to the thematic areas of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, with the possibility of being included among the documents to be signed at that meeting. The SIRG is the executive body of the Summits Process, composed of the Member States and currently presided by Colombia as host country of the next Summit. The Group is responsible for negotiating the texts of the documents to be agreed upon by the Heads of States and Government of the hemisphere when they meet in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in April 2012 under the theme of "Connecting the Americas: Partnerships for Prosperity."

The Chair of the OAS Permanent Council and Representative of Guyana, Bayney Karran, said during the closing session of the ministerial meeting that the deliberations held on this occasion "will have a direct bearing on many of the ideals and the pressing objectives of our Member States, notably improving the quality of life of our peoples." A greater emphasis on the transformative power of culture, added Ambassador Karran, will contribute in his judgment to confronting some of the principal challenges facing the region, among which he named the reduction of social and economic inequalities and the fight against poverty, as well as unemployment, crime and violence, maintaining safe environments, the strengthening of democratic processes, and the preservation of norms and values.

"As we go forward we ought to be ever mindful that public policies are the key tools to help integrate cultural components into government development programs and projects oriented towards the creation of sustainable and inclusive communities, strengthening the social fabric and social networks, fostering feelings of belonging and social identity, and preventing violence and building safe environments," he said.

The Interim OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Jorge Saggiante, reiterated the commitment expressed by Secretary General Insulza to "provide you with all our support so this dialogue not only continues but is strengthened as a true priority in our work." Also, he offered the support of the Secretariat he heads "with your efforts towards integrating culture with development, such as we understand it, that is, development based on quality of life and coexistence with others, with social equality and total respect for the cultural, and of course political, diversity of our peoples."

Ambassador Juan Jaime Girón, for his part, said that "culture has always been present in the Summits of the Americas," and recalled the "primordial role it plays in the reduction of poverty," in the "development of our nations," and in the "creation of decent work," among other things.

The Colombian representative and the OAS Executive Secretary for Summits, Sherry Tross, extended an invitation to the Ministers and High-Level Authorities on Culture present to share their recommendations and conclusions at the next SIRG meeting and to do it also through the Summits Virtual Community (SVC)."The issue of culture and cultural heritage is clearly an important cross-cutting theme that touches on all areas of the Sixth Summit," said Secretary Tross.

The meeting also addressed the progress and outcomes of 2011 as the Inter-American Year of Culture and the role culture plays in promoting prosperous communities and peaceful coexistence, as well as economic empowerment and social inclusion, and citizen participation for the strengthening of democracies. Other topics of debate were the achievements and challenges of the Inter-American Committee on Culture (CIC) 2008-2011 and the outlines for 2013, as well as perspectives on the ministerial process and the Sixth Summit of the Americas. The ten plenary sessions were moderated by the different authorities on culture of the Member States on the subjects of the meeting.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

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