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    Public-Private Partnerships and the Creative Sector


    International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2009

    Through initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity and the Creative Cities Network, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has highlighted the importance of fostering public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a model for making cultural and creative industries the drivers of economic growth.

    In recent years, the idea that development is solely a matter for governments has been replaced by a clear recognition of the role of both the private sector and civil society. The UN Global Compact has played a pioneering role in encouraging PPPs. From UNESCO's perspective, this new vision applies particularly to the cultural and creative industries, which, with a global value of US$ 1.3 trillion, constitute one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world economy today. The promotion of viable, creative industries in developing countries is indispensable to developing the full human development and economic growth potential of artistic creativity and talent, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. The key challenge facing policy-makers is to create enabling environments for effective local and national initiatives, many of which must be based on new forms of PPPs.

    UNESCO's 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions enshrines the principle of PPPs in the cultural sector. In addition, through its Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity launched in 2001, UNESCO has explored many different facets of PPPs in support of cultural industry projects in developing countries. This alliance is evolving into a more ambitious electronic platform focused on fostering tri-sectoral partnership agreements in the cultural sector, by providing actors from the public, private and civil society sectors a wealth of knowledge and contact information.

    UNESCO's long-standing book, publishing and crafts programmes have also highlighted key gaps that can only be overcome through cooperation and collaboration between respective stakeholders. In many developing countries, these industries struggle to attain their potential because they are plagued by weak institutional and political infrastructure, insufficient levels of entrepreneurial capability, limited added value, over-dependence on foreign firms and massive copyright infringement.

    The UNESCO Creative Cities Network applies the lessons learnt from such partnerships. The network is designed to promote social, economic and cultural development through fostering creative partnerships in the fields of literature, music, design, crafts and folk arts, cinema, media arts and gastronomy. Each aspiring city is expected to found a partnership composed of public, private and civil society actors. The network also encourages member cities to create more partnerships at both local and global levels.

    In recent years diverse civil society groups and private sector representatives - from non-governmental organizations to professional associations - have formed national and international coalitions as advocates for supporting and strengthening the creative sector to boost economic growth and contribute to the flourishing of cultural expressions. Private sector associations and civil society coalitions also monitor progress, debate policy and provide innovative business development opportunities.

    UNESCO's experience in fostering PPPs for the cultural and creative industries shows that they should be seen as investments in human development rather than mere subsidies. Developing this sector also requires the direct participation of both private enterprise and professional associations in the search for balance between public and private interests. Such partnerships are a pathway to a better future - not only because they yield additional financial resources, but also because work is done directly with the private sector in structuring and developing markets for cultural goods and services. These collaborations also have a strong North-South and South-South component, which is key to sustainable cultural, social and economic development and poverty reduction.

    The cultural and creative industries create, produce and distribute goods and services based on human imagination and creativity. They include printing and publishing, visual and performing arts, cultural tourism and related heritage industries, cinema, music, radio, television and online industries, arts, design and crafts.
    For more information about the role of the creative economy in Aid for Trade, download a copy of Trade Forum issue #0309 from