Building platforms of cooperation for the creative sectors in Northeast Asia and beyond

The UNESCO Beijing Office, the Secretariat of the UNESCO 2005 Convention and the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO joined hands in the organization of a Consultative Meeting on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Northeast Asia, held from 20 to 22 June 2017, in Qingdao, China. The purpose of this consultation meeting was to provide a platform for intergovernmental communication and cooperation, experience sharing and presentation of innovative policies and good practices.

The city of Qingdao welcomed 21 participants from 11 countries, 62% of which were female. These diverse actors came from both governmental and civil society organizations of Parties and non-Parties to the Convention from China, Japan, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea in the Northeast Asian sub-region covered by the Beijing Cluster Office, as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand and Timor-Leste in the Asia/Pacific region. Also, 7 participants from Chinese cities that set creativity as their strategic goal attended this meeting as observers.

Following an informative field visit to film facilities and a cultural movie club in Qingdao, a city that has recently invested heavily in the film industry, the intensive two-day consultative meeting was steered by Mr Charles Vallerand, international consultant from the Expert Facility of the 2005 Convention.

Mr Li Ming, Director General of the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Press and Publication, Mr Shen Yubiao, Director of the Division of Sciences, Culture and CI from the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO, and Dr Marielza Oliveira, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Beijing Office, introduced the meeting.

“Involving various actors and stakeholders of the creative sectors and beyond for policymaking is not only important as a principle but also indispensable to ensure that policies respond to the needs and aspirations of artists, creators, cultural professionals and citizens in general” highlighted Dr Oliveira in her opening remarks. “Participatory policymaking requires the engagement of various stakeholders not only at the national level but also at regional and international levels. Therefore, we sincerely hope that this meeting will be the beginning of the dialogue, networking, and regional cultural cooperation that you would develop among yourselves”.

This meeting – first of its kind in the Asia/Pacific region– was positively received by the participants as an occasion to share information, good practices and achievements, as well as challenges and uncertainties concerning the ratification and implementation of the 2005 Convention and the development of cultural and creative industries. Interactive dialogue and effective knowledge sharing by the expert helped clarify doubts on the principles and benefits of this Convention, especially regarding issues of preferential treatment for developing countries, participation of civil society and the involvement of sectors other than culture to tackle transversal issues.

Particularly helpful was the presentation by each participant of one policy or measure from their respective country that was deemed successful in promoting the diversity of cultural expressions, aiming at different stages of the cultural value chain, from creation and production to distribution and enjoyment. This stimulated informative and effective dialogues among the participating countries and provided a better understanding of the Convention among participants, being specifically beneficial to non-Parties.

The meeting also resulted in the creation of networks amongst participants of key players in nurturing the diversity of cultural expressions in the Asia/Pacific. This will enable further information sharing and dialogue on cultural policy and governance of culture among and beyond the 11 countries.