A Green Economy for Sustainable Development: Literacy, Land and Women’s Rights (1-3)
UNESCO produced a report on how the world can achieve a green economy on the basis of sustainable development which was present to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 which was convened on 20-22 June 2012 in Brazil. We review on this page this report due to its importance of development especially in developing countries during the coming decades.
Culture, in all its dimensions, is a fundamental component of sustainable development.
As a sector of activity, through tangible and intangible heritage, creative industries and various forms of artistic ex
The cultural dimension of sustainable development advances a human-centered approach to development that reflects the complexities of societies and local contexts, facilitates the creation of an environment that is conducive to sustainable development, promotes the plurality of knowledge systems, and serves as a powerful socioeconomic resource.
Development initiatives and approaches which take culture into account are likely to result in inclusive and context sensitive development that yields equitable outcomes, enhances ownership by target beneficiaries, and ensures effectiveness. Consequently, it presents a vehicle for the vital socioeconomic transformation to green societies.
Within the MDG-F Culture and Development Thematic Window, led by UNESCO, 18 UN inter-agency programmes demonstrate the contribution of culture to development at the country level, with the goal of speeding up progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Funded by Spain, these programmes foster social inclusion, poverty reduction and sustainable development through the promotion and enhancement of cultural resources.
Cultural diversity has an important – yet often underestimated – role to play in tackling current ecological challenges, coping with climate change, preventing biodiversity loss and ensuring environmental sustainability. Sustainability cannot be understood as the pristine natural world isolated from the societies that extract, manage, and impact it. The values and beliefs that shape the relationship of a people to their natural environment are a central aspect of sustainable development.
Cultural factors influence lifestyles, individual behaviour and consumption patterns, values related to environment stewardship and the ways in which we interact with our natural environment. There is much to learn from the environmental management skills embedded within local, rural or indigenous peoples, including multi-use strategies of appropriation, small-scale production with little surplus and low energy needs, as well as a custodial approach to land and natural resources that avoids waste and resource depletion. Culturally-based knowledge and endogenous know-how are core resources for sustainable development. Not only are biological and cultural diversity linked to a wide range of human-nature interactions, but they co-evolve, are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
Mrs Mariette Meunier, a traditional healer with her medicinal plants Women: holders of local and indigenous knowledge and agents of social change, are key to ensuring sustainable and equitable development. UNESCO, through its Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) Programme, is working to bring recognition to this issue, and to demonstrate the link between cultural and biological diversity. The Organization published in 2011 a book entitled ‘Savoirs des Femmes: medicine traditionelle et nature’ detailing the knowledge and practice of traditional women healers of the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues), focusing particularly on perinatal care. These islands were populated by successive waves of human migration both voluntarily and due to slavery. New health care traditions were developed by women and for women, who were underserved by mainstream healthcare. They combined elements of African, European, Indian, and Chinese health systems, adapted them to local needs, and used local and introduced medicinal plants.
Culture is also a vehicle for sustainable, pro-poor, green development, particularly for developing countries. It is a powerful global economic engine generating jobs and income with a value of USD 1.3 trillion in 2005.
The economic prospects of the culture sector are particularly relevant for developing countries given their rich cultural heritage and substantial labor force.
Livelihoods and Green Jobs in Mali
Malian women are known for their knowledge and know-how in the dyeing of textiles. The sector employs numerous women, particularly in Bamako.
However, the general usage of chemical dyes and the runoff of toxic effluents into groundwater or into the waters of the Niger river are suspected of causing health problems for inhabitants in the area (cancer, skin and respiratory diseases), and to polluting vulnerable ecosystems in the vicinity of the World Heritage site of Djenné. To address this issue, UNESCO is supporting the construction of an artisanal, eco-friendly dying factory in the framework of its ‘Niger Loire: Governance and Culture’ project funded by the European Commission. The aim of this project is to detoxify the dye waste so as to reduce the waste runoff into the natural environment, while at the same time improve the working conditions of women, who have until now been exposed to dangerous chemicals. The centre will also encourage women to experiment with using natural dye, and will be run by the women themselves, through a management committee.
Sustainable tourism, as well as culture and creative industries, are strategic outlets for income generation and poverty reduction.
Culture is a powerful economic engine generating jobs and income with a value of USD 1.3 trillion in 2005.
Women from the Dianéguéla district of Bamako dyeing textiles the cultural industries encourage innovation, creativity, support skill development, and generate entrepreneurial capital within local communities.
Capacity Development of Local Communities for Sustainable Eco-tourism and Development in Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island and its heritage face significant challenges as the natural and cultural resources of the island are threatened by unsustainable practices and pressure from tourism. UNESCO is working to enhance capacities of Easter Island communities and local stakeholders for the development of community-based sustainable eco-tourism. Innovative micro-projects on sustainable development and sustainable tourism were implemented. Children produced messages for radio and television on how to protect the environment of Easter Island, for example. In the course of this initiative, a major Resource Management Plan for sustainable tourism planning on Easter Island was developed with the local community.
Cultural industries require limited capital investment and have low entry barriers. Culture-related economic opportunities are not easily outsourced making it attractive to investors. Owing to its significant operation within the informal sector where the poor and marginalized often work, effective promotion of the cultural industries is likely to have a direct impact on vulnerable populations, including women, and can stimulate social inclusion while maximizing jobs and trade opportunities. Development experiences indicate that the economic empowerment of women frequently results in a multiplier effect with community gains and economic growth.
By Alula Berhe Kidani, 15/08/2012