OPENING REMARK BY MR. YDO YAO, DIRECTOR, UNESCO REGIONAL OFFICE, ABUJA, AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CULTURAL ORIENTATION (NICO) QUARTERLY PUBLIC LECTURE AT THE MAIN AUDITORIUM, SHEHU YAR’ADUA CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, ON 10 JULY, 2017
UNESCO is proud to be here at the National Institute for Cultural Orientation’s Quarterly Public Lecture. We find it apt that this lecture has the title, “Promoting Culture, Developing the Economy: A Nigerian Perspective.” I would like to thank NICO for inviting us to be part of this critical discourse. Since the director was not able to attend personally due to conflict of agenda, he sent me to deliver this remark.
UNESCO has been a major player in achieving the promotion of cultures and the development of national and regional economies. The seven conventions that guide its engagement with member states on culture provide eloquent testimony of this commitment. The understanding of, and building upon the interaction between culture and the development of national economies have become even more important in the face of global economic challenges affecting the traditional sources of income for countries such as Nigeria. It has become increasingly necessary for nations and regions to re-examine the critical role culture plays in sustainable development and the creation of jobs, especially for young people.
In recognition of this critical role culture has to play, the 2008 National Policy on Culture currently under review, recognizes that culture is “a central vehicle for national development, economic emancipation and empowerment.” The recognition of culture as a veritable tool and vehicle for sustainable development is also minored in the introductory parts of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which recognizes that culture is “a strategic element in national and international development… as well as in international development cooperation.” Nigeria has also ratified all of UNESCO’s the conventions on culture.
In keeping with its mandate to promote “positive cultural values and harnessing culture for national development”, as elaborated in the 1998 Cultural Policy for Nigeria, NICO has achieved monumental milestones in “effecting a sense of cultural direction and relationship to meet the challenges of social integration, unity, peaceful co-existence and self-reliance for national development.” Part of that achievement is that we are all here today to participate in the second edition of the quarterly public lecture series. The theme of this lecture speaks directly to two out of the five aspirations articulated in the African Union Agenda 2063. Aspiration 1 is about a prosperous Africa that is based on “inclusive growth and sustainable development”; while Aspiration 5 envisages an Africa with “a strong cultural identity”.
It is therefore, with a sense of pride and belonging to this tradition of achievement that UNESCO has come to participate in this second edition of a necessary discourse on the interaction of culture and development. We hope that with this event, culture’s immense contribution to sustainable development will continue to be recognized.