Center for Markets in Transition CEMAT

NDI Policy Brief 18: Culture must be recognized as a driver of sustainable development

The NDI Policy Briefs give concrete, research-based policy recommendations to address a relevant and timely societal challenge in the Northern Dimension area.
Photo of  Christo and Jeanne-Claude's  L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped.
Image: L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped. Christo and Jeanne-Claude, 1961-2021. Photo by __ Pratov on


This Policy Brief highlights the potential of culture to create stability and to support sustainability. It argues that culture directly affects our attitudes towards change, our wellbeing and our ability to feel empathy, which are the source of stability. Cultural activities support our experience of meaningful life and the sense of inclusion. The accelerating climate change with all its side effects leads to increasing instability in societies. Sometimes its connection to individual crises can be difficult to see, but like the complex entirety of sustainable development, the sources of instability are also multi-layered and systemic. Societal unrest can be triggered by energy shortages, financial crises, human rights disputes, political conflicts etc. Maintaining stability by means of culture is vital to successfully cope with both long-term changes and rapidly emerging challenges.

Culture and creative sector is struggling at the moment, as it is one of the sectors that has suffered the most from the COVID-19 crisis. Innovative solutions such as moving services and cultural products online have partially helped the sector, but financial support is still needed to cover their development costs. When thinking beyond the crisis, we need a new policy which recognizes the importance of culture in the building of the sustainable society of the future. This implies viewing culture as a resource for other spheres of economy and society, and supporting the generation of new employment opportunities for arts and culture professionals. Such reconceptualization of culture not only as an object to be protected and supported, but also as active contributor to sustainable development has eventually a positive impact on national budgets.

Recommendation 1: Continue to guarantee financial support for the creative sector to develop and introduce new kinds of business models based on digital platforms.
Recommendation 2: To deepen knowledge-based political dialogue to integrate sustainability discourse and cultural policies, and thereby strengthen the position of culture in budgetary allocations.
Recommendation 3: Promote the employment of artists in a context of sustainable development by encouraging researchers, policymakers, funders and stakeholders to engage in pilot and demonstration projects that can lead eventually to a successful scaling.

Download the Policy Brief:
Culture must be recognized as a driver of sustainable development (PDF)

For more information, please contact the author:
ANTTI HUNTUS | Arts Promotion Centre Finland | [email protected] 

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