A day to celebrate cultural diversity


The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is something special: a celebration of the multitude of ways in which art enriches our lives, be it with music, poetry, dance, cinematography - the variety seems endless. This occasion is also an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity.

"Culture is at the heart of the challenges we face globally, notably the transition towards a green and digital economy. Building forward better and more sustainably will require cultural changes for us all."

- Joint Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Borrell and Commissioners Gabriel and Urpilainen on World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development


As the EU is party to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted in October 2005, EU Delegations, Member States and local cultural operators, are joining forces to promote cultural diversity all over the world.

European Spaces of Culture is one of the most ambitious EU cultural programmes enhancing cultural diversity in all its expressions. Eight countries: Benin - El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras – Ethiopia – Mongolia – Sri Lanka – US, are involved in 6 different innovative models aiming at sustainability through culture, digital innovation, peace and stability, cultural rights and freedom of expression.


Supporting sustainable systems of governance for culture:

The 2005 UNESCO Convention aims to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, based on informed, transparent and participatory processes and systems of governance. Creation, production, distribution and access with regard to diverse cultural activities should be supported.

Ethiopia – Tibeb Be Adebabay

Ethiopia’s definition of cultural policy is focused on the areas of heritage, tourism and cultural industries. Public space can rarely be used by artists or civil society actors for encounters between people.

Ti-beb be Adebabay (Amharic for “Art in Public Space”) is a participatory street festival staged in public space in Addis Ababa. Born out of the conviction that culture is not a luxury but a necessity, Tibeb be Adebabay offers new experiences for Addis Ababa residents in the public domain. The primary goal of the festival is to get the public to participate in the making of artworks with artists in the streets. The Festival aims also at addressing this issue by opening up new opportunities for societal dialogue and collaboration.

The campaign ‘Our Future Together’ which is to raise awareness of the role the arts play in society has been another major element of such commitment.


Addis Street Art is a featured project that enables people to come together and participate on the creation of urban murals and other form of arts on the street using graffiti and other techniques. Photograph: Tibeb be Adebabay


Achieving a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increasing mobility of artists and cultural professionals:

Unhindered and equitable access to culture as well as the free movement of cultural goods and services are key to a sector particularly hit by the COVID crisis. Free movement of artists and cultural professionals is also a necessity to bring about cultural diversity.

Sri Lanka – Colomboscope: On Language and Multitudinal Belonging

Across Sri Lanka, artists face a constant struggle to maintain a professional livelihood in the cultural sector due to lack of public funding, accessible arts libraries and open-source archives. The festival Colomboscope offers opportunities for creative producers to have a horizontal exchange on creative questions as well as topics of socio-political urgency. The lead-up to the next Colomboscope festival includes professional development workshops, mentoring circles, and in-tandem residencies across different regions in Sri Lanka, bringing together contemporary cultural practices that investigate local and global phenomena, the works being produced during the project range from film, installation, creative publishing and performance poetry. Local audiences can see the developments of the artworks through regional open studios, and they will also feature in Colomboscope 2021.


Integrating culture in sustainable development frameworks:

Culture and all the creative sectors are recognised as a motor for social and economic development.

Benin – Urban Cult Lab'Africa

African urbanization brings together different cultures, languages, traditions and heritage. Urban Cult Lab’ Africa contributes to making this diversity an opportunity to avoid sources of tension and conflicts, and rather develop an alloy of skills and talents to develop solutions to urbanization questions. The Urban Cult Lab’Africa project has brought six fab labs in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania and Togo in West Africa together to co-design cultural events including artists’ residencies, live events and exhibitions.

The project is fuelled by strong regional collaborations across the fab labs in the area of digital innovation for education, makers and artists, and goods and services. Urban Cult Lab’Africa promotes social inclusion, encouraging the re-appropriation of urban spaces to make their creative programme visible to the broadest audiences possible.

Like many makerspaces worldwide, Blolab Bénin is fighting the spread of the coronavirus, by using 3D printing technology to produce masks and visors. Blolab is partner in Urban Cult Lab'Africa. Photo: Blolab Bénin


Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms

Respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms is a pre-requisite for the diversity of cultural expressions.

Mongolia – Nogoonbaatar International Eco Art Festival

Half of Mongolia’s population lives in Ulaanbaatar, one of the most polluted capital cities on earth. Fine particulate matter accounts for many health disorders and premature deaths, and is a high threat to younger generations. It grows with the expansion of the population and increasing rural-to-urban migration. Nogoonbaatar ("Green Hero"), the first eco art festival in the country, hopes to change this critical situation. The festival is staged in the Ger District, notorious for heavy pollution through coal burning. Local artists, European artists-in-residence and environmental educators are using a people-to-people approach, developing art projects and events in community centres, schools and public spaces.

All festival activities highlight the effects of air pollution and promote best practices for a more sustainable lifestyle. The goal is to raise awareness about air pollution (indoor and outdoor) and its impacts on health, promote good practices such as prevention and protection methods, and to present cheap or costless solutions to diminish pollution (insulation, ventilation, planting trees, cleaner heating systems and fuels) using the learning by doing method.



CLIC : Another EU-funded cultural project in Cuba

The EU and its members have a long tradition of cooperation in the cultural sector in Cuba. The recently created EUNIC Cuba cluster seeks to find synergies and increase the impact of its cultural cooperation activities. In order to reach this goal, the EU Delegation in Cuba has allocated a budget for the CLIC project, a EUNIC Cuba initiative.

In the first phase of the project, the focus has been on boosting existing local initiatives and existing local structures in the cultural industries. The CLIC project supports the organisation of exchange, educational, research, promotion and co-creation activities around four strategic areas:

  • Supporting the development of Cuban cultural industries
  • Strengthening the capacity of creators and professionals linked to them
  • Inserting Cuban artists in professional networks and markets in Europe
  • Stimulating innovative, inclusive and resilient urbanism in Havana

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All the activities are driven by the idea of promoting young Cuban talent and connecting Cuban artists and professionals with European counterparts, thus strengthening their capacities. CLIC is based on the exchange of experiences and knowledge, for which Cuban and European experts from the most varied disciplines participate: cinema, dance, fashion, music, architecture and visual arts.



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