Effective policies on culture and creative sectors urged for Pak socio-economic development

Karachi: Pakistan possesses tremendous opportunities for boosting its rich cultural and creative sectors for socio, economic and sustainable development. The contemporary creative arts scene including audio-visual and performing arts and crafts, music, publishing and interactive media, design and creative services is rapidly emerging and opening new horizons from rural areas to urban cities in the country. Adopting a strong cultural and creative sector policies and placing culture and respect for cultural diversity at the heart of development strategies is key for successful globalization. These remarks were made by Mr. Andrew Senior, UNSECO Consultant and International Expert on Culture and Creative Economy at the opening of the consultation meeting on policies for Pakistan’s creative sector which was held in Karachi.  A similar consultation took place in Lahore last week, and a third meeting is scheduled for Islamabad later in the week.

He explained that UNESCO has launched a series of consultations to engage key stakeholders such as government actors, representatives of civil society organizations, including women, youth, media and marginalized groups as well as young entrepreneurs to raise awareness, and to discuss key challenges, and opportunities, and make policy recommendations for Pakistan’s culture and creative sectors. The purpose of these consultations is also to build support for signing of the 2005 UNESCO Convention for the protection and promotion of diversity of cultural expressions. It is expected that success stories will be collected to demonstrate the creative sector’s contribution to economic growth, job creation and social inclusion in Pakistan.

The consultations are organized by UNESCO Pakistan with the support of Centre for Culture and Development with funding from the Government of Denmark. Both federal and provincial government representatives were also present and engaged in the discussions. The consultations come at a very timely moment as the provincial and federal governments are in the process of drafting culture policies.

Speaking at the opening session, Ms. Sharmila Farooqi, Minister of Culture, Government of Sindh congratulated UNESCO Pakistan for holding the consultative dialogue on Policies for the Cultural and Creative Sectors.  She shared that her ministry was committed to engaging with all stake-holders in ensuring that a cross section of people and institutions were engaged in protection, promotion and respect for diverse cultural expression and culture of the province.

“Nations that allow their sense of history, culture and diversity to be lost, are ultimately themselves lost in the history,” Ms. Farooqi said. She informed that her ministry was in the process of articulating a Policy on Culture for the province of Sindh. Endorsing the UNESCO initiative, the Culture Minister said she was delighted to be part of the process and wished for the process to feed and inform policy making on culture in Pakistan.

In his address, Mr. Noor ul Haque Baloch, Secretary Culture Balochistan emphasized that each province needed to articulate its own culture policy by engaging members of general public along with experts and policy makers for deliberation at each level. He highlighted that the policy should be reflected by the lived experience and cultural aspirations of the people. He extended his gratitude to UNESCO for the event and noted to share key messages from the event his department colleagues for consideration in policy making on culture in Balochistan.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights the important role of culture in relation to education, sustainable cities, food security, the environment, economic growth, sustainable consumption and production patterns, peaceful and inclusive societies. Globally, the creative economy has grown extremely fast over the past twenty years and is today worth an estimated USD 4.3 trillion per year, contributing to 6.1% of the global economy. In Pakistan, total exports of cultural goods have increased from USD 60 million in 2004 to USD 276 million in 2013.It is therefore a very opportune moment for Pakistan to explore how the policies and governance of the culture and creative industries can be strengthened.