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Arts and culture have emerged as key areas of focus in the global discourse on sustainable development.

In May of 2014, the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies partnered with other international networks including Agenda 21 for Culture, the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, Culture Action Europe, Arterial Network, and other key actors to launch a Declaration on the Inclusion of Culture in the Sustainable Development Goals. The partnership called on the international community to agree that ‘the world we want includes culture’.

Weeks after the Declaration, the UN General Assembly Special Thematic Debate held on Culture and Sustainable Development in the Post 2015 Development Agenda arrived at the following key messages:

  • Culture enables and drives sustainable development;
  • Culture is key to poverty eradication;
  • Culture is key to quality education;
  • Culture is key to sustainable environmental management;
  • Culture is key to the sustainability of cities; and
  • Culture is key for social cohesion and inclusion. 

These developments clearly show the linkages between arts, culture and development.  

Arts and culture actors from across the global south have recognised that now is the time for an initiative that will: provide a stronger voice for the arts and culture sector in the south; be equipped to play an advocacy role; and facilitate knowledge and information exchange between arts and culture players in the south.

The African Arts Institute organised a gathering of civil society, inter-governmental organisations and regional networks. The Commonwealth Foundation supported the initiative.