An upward trajectory on culture’s transformative impact for development
In the face of complex, multifaceted, and interconnected global challenges, the transformational role of culture for sustainable development has gained particular traction. National and local governments worldwide are increasingly harnessing culture to achieve sustainable development objectives across the public policy spectrum, from education, job creation and social inclusion to climate action, peacebuilding and urban sustainability, among other targets. The inclusion of culture has proven critical to ensuring context-relevant, rights-based, and inclusive sustainable development models, encompassing the intrinsic diversity of societies and supporting the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The intellectual property (IP) system has long been perceived as an enabler of commerce. However, to indigenous groups worldwide, and indeed within ASEAN, the IP system has increasingly been seen as a tool for safeguarding cultural heritage while promoting the commercialisation of traditional cultural knowledge and practices. With cultural piracy and the misappropriation of traditional works on the rise due to an increasingly borderless commerce ecosystem, could IP be the appropriate link between cultural preservation, cultural appreciation, and economic development? How could IP provide a connection between the products and expressions of indigenous groups and their provincial, national and regional governments for the prosperity of all?
The ASEAN Cultural Center is Southeast Asia’s first ASEAN cultural learning centre on ASEAN in the heart of Bangkok’s historic and culturally rich district. Established under the auspices of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture, the ASEAN Cultural Center occupies the third floor of the Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center. Since its official opening on 7 August 2015, the ASEAN Cultural Center has served as a regional hub for fostering understanding and appreciation of ASEAN’s shared cultural heritage. Its meticulously curated exhibitions, which span 900 square meters, showcase the region’s rich history, vibrant traditions, and diverse cultural expressions.
Mohd. Abdoh Damit is the Chair for Brunei Darussalam’s Sub-Committee on Culture (SCC) of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information. He proposed the project “Completing ASEAN Sculptures at Taman Damuan” in 2015 during the 15th Meeting of the SCC in Singapore and subsequently chaired the working committee of the project.
ASEAN has always been described as the melting pot of different cultures, traditions and beliefs. Almost all the countries in this region consist of dozens of ethnicities and tribes, each with distinct spoken languages and dialects, food, costumes, dances and festivities. Yet, we are said to have a shared identity.
Our world is changing rapidly, and that is changing the many ways in which we live, work, and play. Today’s problems and crises, ranging from climate change and disasters to conflicts and pandemics, are “wicked” or too complex to solve. Finding sustainable solutions requires us to transcend a silo, sector-centric discourse, and yet global policy dialogues on these pertinent problems are anything but.
Indonesia’s 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship, under the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” has produced notable impacts, particularly on the socio-economic domain. It has affirmed ASEAN centrality and significantly supported Member States in their post-pandemic rebuilding efforts. Within the ASEAN Socio- Cultural Community Pillar, the adoption and notation of the ensuing outcome documents reflect the region’s commitment to ensuring that its people reap the benefits of progress and experience improved well-being.
As the Lao PDR assumes the Chairpersonship of ASEAN and your Ministry leads the ASCC, could you share Lao PDR’s top priorities for the ASCC?
Water and rain are essential to sustaining lives and livelihood, and fostering social and economic development throughout Southeast Asia. They are, for example, necessary for the production of rice, a tradition that dates back to thousands of years. Rice has remained an important commodity in the region, both as a staple food and an export product. Almost 30 per cent of the world’s rice-growing areas are situated in the region, with Thailand and Viet Nam ranking among the top global rice exporters (International Rice Research Institute, n.d.). This is largely due to the interplay between water resources, land, and the ecosystem.
ASEAN celebrated its 56th anniversary on 8 August 2023 with Indonesia’s 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship theme, “Epicentrum of Growth”.
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