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General Assembly – High-level Event on Culture and Sustainable Development on the occasion of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the High-Level Event of the General Assembly on Culture and Sustainable Development on the occasion of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development —

I just want to add Italy’s voice to this interesting debate, which we warmly welcome, and having listened attentively to all the interventions also from the floor, not only the presentations, I think all of them have confirmed very clearly the central role of culture in the promotion and achievement of all SDGs. We even heard that culture will save the world and we hope this is going to be the case.

Italy fully shares this approach. I do not need to elaborate too much on the importance we attach to the dimension of culture in our national policy, and also in our interaction and cooperation strategies with international institutions and Member States of the United Nations.

Let me just focus on three domains in which we try to be particularly active.

First is the cultural heritage protection. As you know, Italy has been historically and unfortunately a privileged target for the illegal trade of cultural goods. This is why our national Authorities have developed a unique expertise in this field. We established a specialized law enforcement unit in 1969 which paved the way for an effective action on the Italian territory and also for creating a cooperation framework with our international partners and I am referring to our Special Command of Carabinieri.

We also strongly supported the establishment of the “Unite4Heritage” Task Force in 2016 and in 2017, we promoted, in cooperation with France, the adoption of resolution 2347 of the Security Council on the protection of cultural heritage in situations of armed conflict and let me also to recall we have the honour to co-chair, together with Cyprus, a Group of Friends, here in New York, devoted to the protection of cultural heritage.

The second domain is the promotion of cultural industries, we strongly support the UNESCO strategy in support of “cultural industries” as an engine for sustainable development. In this framework, Italy is particularly active in promoting the role of traditional food production, especially through Micro Small and Medium Enterprises. We welcome the approval in April by the UNESCO Executive Board of a Decision recognizing the importance of food as a fundamental component of cultural heritage. The role of food as an instrument of culture will be also on the agenda of the “IV UNESCO Global Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries”, which Italy will host in Parma next September.

The third domain has to do with the active engagement of local communities. This is a very important domain, in Italy this dimension is growing very much. We will also host in Italy, in the Italian city of Fabriano pretty soon the XIII edition of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Let me also finally recall in this context the role of the City of Matera as the 2019 European Capital of culture.

I thank you.