International Congress of Cultural Heritage and G-77 in Cuba stress importance of cultural diversity and youth engagement

Paloma 1957 by Cuban artist Marta Arjona born 3 May 1923, Cuba. Credit

This May in Havana the first International Congress of Cultural Heritage is taking place.

A meeting on “Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development” of the culture ministers of the G77 + China, founded in 1964 and composed of 134 of the 193 member states of the United Nations, will take place within the framework of the First International Congress of Cultural Heritage. The Group of 77 + China is this year presided by Cuba.

The G-77 plus China forum will address the collaboration of the bloc’s countries in sectors such as creative industries and heritage, among other topics.

The meeting was inaugurated by the president of the National Heritage Council of Cuba, Sonia Virgen Pérez Mojena, and the director of the World Heritage Centre of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Lazare Eloundou Assomo. The Congress has a wide participation of international guests from nations such as Chile, United States, South Africa, Angola, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Martinique and El Salvador.

Eloundou, in his keynote speech entitled ‘World Heritage Challenges and the Future of the Convention’, highlighted the importance of this first Congress in the face of the constant reinvention of UNESCO in its mission to protect and promote heritage. He explained that the world is not the same as when the commission was founded half a century ago, so it must adapt to the new times and constantly renew itself.

He also referred to the many threats facing heritage today, including wars and climate change, which make its protection urgent, especially in the nations most affected by such problems.

The senior official said that the three main objectives they are working on today are to recognize a more representative heritage, against the historical tendency to undervalue minority cultures and small nations; make their preservation more sustainable, a priority in the face of climate change, and acclimatize heritage sites to make them more accessible to all types of public, including people with hearing, visual and motor disabilities, among others.

The Congress includes dedications to the centenaries of the Cuban sculptor and ceramist Marta Arjona, the Cuban scientist and speleologist Antonio Núñez Jiménez and the Cuban visual artist Servando Cabrera. Also as part of the international congress is the 19th Ernest Hemingway International Colloquium, a tribute to the Nobel Prize-winning writer who made Cuba his home for almost two decades.

The conference includes presentations on ‘Youth and Heritage in the Caribbean’, by Anne Lemaistre, director of the Office of Culture for Latin America and the Caribbean of UNESCO; Juan Garay, Head of Cooperation of the European Union in Cuba; Gladys Collazo, director of the Santa Clara School for Training in the Arts and Crafts of the Restoration of Cuba and the Caribbean; Aurora Couret, Cuban ceramist, and Desley Gardner, manager of the heritage site of the Antigua and Barbuda Shipyard.

The congress also coincides with the International Tourism Fair fitCuba in Havana, dedicated this year to cultural heritage.

In the closing remarks of the meeting of the G77 + China, Inés María Chapman Waugh, Deputy Prime Minister of Cuba, commented that one of the priorities of the Cuban presidency at the head of the G-77+ China, a wide and representative universe of nations, is to defend, preserve and promote respect for biodiversity and cultural diversity as a factor that stimulates social cohesion and the culture of peace among peoples. as well as promoting the value of culture as an engine of sustainable development, peace and stability.

For the countries of the South, the effects of this systemic crisis are exacerbated and in the cultural sector it has imposed additional challenges to the efforts of governments, local authorities and other actors in the creative and artistic sector to achieve the transformative ideal of culture contained in the 2030 Agenda.

“To address this crisis in the cultural and creative sector, it is essential to work together and promote cooperation and solidarity, and reposition culture as a driver of resilience, inclusion and social cohesion, as well as its contribution to environmental protection and sustainable and inclusive growth. In this common endeavour, we reaffirm UNESCO’s leadership and its coordinating and assisting role,” she said at the meeting.

In the opinion of Chapman Waugh, in order to protect cultural diversity, safeguard cultural heritage and ensure the access and enjoyment of our peoples to cultural life as a fundamental human right, “we underline the importance of developing joint initiatives within the framework of South-South cooperation aimed at promoting sustainable development based on culture and environmental sustainability”.

Statement by G77+ China Culture Ministers


We, the Ministers of Culture and Heads of Delegations of the G77 Member States and China, meeting in Havana, Cuba, on 4 May 2023, with the purpose of reflecting on the contemporary challenges of the cultural sector in our nations aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, at the same time, promoting initiatives aimed at action around the social and economic dimension of culture for sustainable development, social transformation and inclusion; as well as to promote cooperation mechanisms and alternatives that strengthen culture as a global public good and favor the exchange of good practices and the strengthening of capacities in developing countries.

We highlight the importance of the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development, MONDIACULT 2022 (held in Mexico City in September 2022) which affirmed that culture is a global public good and a fundamental factor in achieving sustainable development, peace and stability.

We emphasize the transcendental value of culture as an essential component of human development, social inclusion and efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce social inequalities.

We underline the capacity of culture in promoting multilingualism as a driver of resilience and social cohesion, as well as its contribution to environmental protection and sustainable and inclusive growth in harmony and balance with nature.

We recognise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cultural sector, on the creative industries and, in particular, on the creation, production, distribution of and access to cultural goods and services, as well as on the loss of income from cultural tourism and creative economies.

We highlight the efforts and commitment of the governments and cultural actors of the countries of the South to promote national and regional assistance and collaborative actions that help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, protect cultural diversity, safeguard cultural heritage and guarantee access to cultural life and its enjoyment by its citizens as a fundamental human right.

We underline the importance of promoting joint initiatives within the framework of South-South cooperation, aimed at promoting an approach to sustainable development based on culture and environmental sustainability with innovative solutions, through cultural heritage, creative industries, the potential of local communities, innovation, and creativity.

We reaffirm our firm rejection of the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial effects and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions against developing countries, and reiterate the urgent need to eliminate them immediately.

We emphasize the importance of respect for cultural diversity throughout the world, of fostering intercultural dialogue, and mutual learning, based on international friendship, solidarity and cooperation.

We underline the importance of engaging youth and fully harnessing their potential and creative capacities, taking into account their views, perceptions and ideas with a view to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving a more just, equitable and peaceful future for all.


Promote, through public policies, the transformative role of culture and its contribution to sustainable and inclusive economic growth to face current challenges and inequalities as a fundamental priority.

Promote a better understanding of the importance and scope of culture from its economic, social and environmental dimension and its direct and indirect contribution to local, national, subregional and regional sustainable development.

Strengthen the promotion of cultural diversity, cultural heritage, cultural and creative industries and cultural tourism, in order to consolidate them as fundamental pillars in local, national, subregional and regional development plans and programs, and guarantee the financing and investment necessary for their development.

Promote international unity, solidarity and cooperation to move towards a recovery of the cultural sector in the countries of the South and reduce the gaps exacerbated by the multidimensional crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preserve the cultural diversity of the countries of the South, protect their cultural heritage and promote access to cultural life as a fundamental human right of peoples.

Promote cultural exchange among the countries of the South, respect for the diversity of cultural expressions, intercultural dialogue, the mobility of artists and creators and the promotion of artistic education as vehicles to consolidate unity, the culture of peace and solidarity among the nations of the South.

Enhance synergies between culture and education, including the integration of culture into curricula with the aim of expanding and improving the quality of comprehensive education of our young generations.

Strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation mechanisms with the participation of agencies and bodies of the United Nations system with competence in the field of culture, such as UNESCO, to mobilize resources aimed at promoting projects, facilitating the exchange of good practices and knowledge and fostering strategic alliances to face future and increasingly complex challenges.

Share experiences and good practices drawn from cultural and creative industries models and local development projects in countries of the South and with the participation of communities to achieve sustainable development with a focus on culture.

Strengthen joint cooperation in the monitoring, collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data in the field of culture in developing countries, supporting UNESCO’s efforts to produce a World Report on Cultural Policies based on the periodic reports of its Member States and within the framework of UNESCO’s thematic indicators for Culture 2030, in order to make visible the impact of culture on the sustainable development of our countries.

Promote public policies to minimize risks and take advantage of the opportunities of digital transformation in the sphere of culture, using technology, creativity and innovation as fundamental tools for the recovery of the cultural and creative sector after covid-19.

Provide tools to the cultural and creative sector to confront hate speech, violence, discrimination and guarantee access to culture and truthful and reliable information, as fundamental human rights, in the fields of culture, education, information and communication.

Strengthen cooperation in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, through the exchange of good practices and the strengthening of capacities in the safeguarding, registration and control of heritage.

Promote, within the framework of the SDG Summit and other relevant negotiation processes, the inclusion of a structured, specific sustainable development goal on culture in the new post-2030 development agenda.

We express our commitment to strengthen cooperation in the field of culture, promoting its scope as a cross-cutting axis of the dimensions of sustainable development and recognizing its significance for individuals and societies, as a public good and a way to build peace, equality and prosperity.

We thank the Government of the Republic of Cuba, in its capacity as Chairman of the Group of 77 and China, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Cuba for the sponsorship, organization and results of this sectoral meeting.

Based on report by and