Minister of Culture, Sports and Culture Hoang Tuan Anh highlighted the role of culture in sustainable development at a UN General Assembly thematic debate in New York on May 5.

The following is the full text of his speech.

“Mr. President,

It is my great honor to speak on behalf of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at this UNGA thematic debate on “Culture and Sustainable Development in the Post 2015 Development Agenda”.

Mr. President,

1. The 1998 Stockholm Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for development recognized culture as an important component of development policies and recommended Governments to integrate cultural elements into development policies and strategies. We have witnessed the dramatic change in awareness of nations in recognizing the role of culture in economic growth and development. The core of this process is the re-orientation of thinking in development, from material production intensive model to human centered model, since the ultimate goal of every single development policy is to bring about happiness for mankind. This has also been manifested in the shift from the development policies emphasizing growth at all cost to sustainable development approach: balancing all three pillars of economic development, social development and environmental protection; balancing between development and preservation; capitalizing on the contribution of culture for development.

2. For Vietnam, culture is the spiritual foundation of the society and the driving force and ultimate goal of socio-economic development. In 1946, President Ho Chi Minh stated “Culture enlights the nation’s development path”. Culture is the reflection of energy, innovation, potential and stature of a nation. In order to achieve sustainable development, a nation needs human resources empowered with dynamic and innovative culture, which serve as a vehicle and impetus to stimulate economic development, promote a healthy social environment and harmonize natural environment.

In 2009, the Government of Vietnam approved the “National Strategy on Culture Development until 2020” with specific programs, measures and action plans. The Strategy aims to ensure that culture contributes to sustainable development in line with international trends reflected in relevant resolutions, recommendations and international treaties of the United Nations, including those of UNESCO.

Mr. President,

3. For culture to contribute to the goal of building Vietnam into a strong nation with prosperous people and a fair, democratic and advanced society, we have set the following priorities for the next 15 years:
Firstly, to raise awareness of all citizens and authorities on the role of culture in sustainable development;
Secondly, to promote comprehensive human development, build a healthy cultural and social foundation.
Thirdly, to facilitate universal access to cultural activities, ranging from freedom of expression, creativity, to production, distribution and enjoyment of cultural products.
Fourthly, to improve cultural institutions and systems, increase public investment, and mobilizing all resources for culture development.
Fifthly, to recognize the vitality of cultures; promote the uniqueness and diversity of cultural identity while ensuring equality among ethnic groups, cultures and religions;

4. Preserving and promoting traditional cultural values which are united in the diversity is a priority for Vietnam . To date, 18 natural and cultural heritages of Vietnam have been recognized by UNESCO. Vietnam ’s diverse and beautiful natural environment and rich culture are an invaluable resource for tourism development. We have been promoting the development of traditional handicraft villages, creating jobs, eradicating hunger and eliminating poverty for the people, especially ethnic minorities and socially vulnerable groups like women, the elderly, children and people with disabilities. Many campaigns have been implemented, including “All people united to promote cultural life” and “Building the New Rural Area”. These have positively complemented the Government’s poverty reduction programs, and have given a strong push for the cultural life of the country, especially in the remote and rural area, helping Vietnam achieve results acknowledged by the world community in realizing the MDGs. Using the MDG framework, Vietnam took the initiative to devise our own Vietnam Development Goals (VDGs) which included one on culture and improvement of the spiritual life of people, with special attention given to cultures of ethnic minorities to ensure comprehensive, equal and sustainable development.

Mr. President,

5. As a developing country actively engaging in the world, Vietnam affirms the important role of culture in the global post-2015 development agenda. Culture can contribute to the three pillars of environmental sustainability, economic development and social progress. Culture can help promote harmonious and sustainable interaction among human beings, between humankind and nature, and improve the spiritual and material life for all individuals and all nations. That is also the goal of sustainable development that we are aiming for.

6. Vietnam calls for strengthened co-operation and global partnership with participation of all relevant stakeholders, including Governments, the United Nations, the business sector and civil society to ensure that cultural elements are deeply absorbed into development programs of each nation and the international community.

7. Vietnam highly appreciates the United Nations General Assembly, Governments, international organizations and relevant partners for supporting developing countries in setting up and planning of sustainable development policies, capacity building, human resources development and technical assistance in order to assert an adequate role of culture in the sustainable development program of all countries.

Thank you for your kind attention”.-VNA