The Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005 Convention) held their biannual meeting last week. IFLA attended as an observer, underlining the importance of showing culture’s contribution to development, and promoting equitable access for all.

While the Parties themselves are national governments, the Convention recognises the fundamental role of civil society in protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions. Parties are therefore committed to encourage the active participation of civil society in their work to implement the Convention. Part of this engagement is the biannual Civil Society Forum, the third edition of which was held on 31 May.

Civil Society Forum Outcomes

IFLA took a central role in this year’s Civil Society Forum, namely in the following thematic breakout sessions:

  • Culture and sustainable development – building on the work of IFLA and partners towards upholding culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.
  • Digital environment, rights, and trade – upholding the importance of meaningful access to information in both the creation of and access to cultural expressions.

The outcome of the Civil Society Forum was a list of recommendations representing the perspective of civil society, which were presented to the Conference of Parties on 2 June. Several of these recommendations to the Parties align closely with areas of IFLA’s work:

The Forum further recommended that all stakeholders acknowledge that cultural participation, a vibrant and inclusive cultural life in communities, and access to culture represent a precondition to achieve all Sustainable Development Goals.


Engaging Further

The Conference of Parties called for all Parties to take steps towards creating national plans to protect and promote cultural diversity in the digital environment. As stated in the Convention’s Operational Guidelines for Implementation in the Digital Environment, this includes such activities as:

  • encouraging the implementation of digital preservation measures and the development of infrastructure to ensure universal and continuous access to cultural content
  • ensuring access to cultural content by suppling the necessary digital equipment to public institutions such as schools, libraries and cultural centers
  • setting up programmes for digital literacy, public education and awareness on using the Internet and on mastering digital tools

Parties are further invited to highlight such efforts in their periodic reports, to which civil society actors are encouraged to contribute.

Libraries can play an important role in helping to bridge the digital divide, transfer digital skills, and enable meaningful access to help protect and promote cultural diversity in the digital environment.

What you can do: Email your national point-of-contact and ask to discuss how your library’s activities may be able to contribute to the next annual report. IFLA can help with this.

Do you have experience and stories that can help build a strong body of evidence on how libraries promote and protect diverse cultural expressions – both traditionally and in the digital environment?

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Find out more about the 2005 Convention here.