The São Paulo Declaration on Culture and Sustainability

I’m attending the Unconference on Culture and Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro.

This is one of the initiatives being discussed, as explained by Jose Murillo:

“About the São Paulo Declaration: on January 29, 2012, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture organized another meeting at the ‘Thematic World Social Forum’ in Porto Alegre and the ‘Meeting of Mercosur High Authorities – Culture and Sustainability Towards Rio +20’ was held in Sao Paulo. This meeting was part of the Cultural MERCOSUR agenda, with the presence of representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. The gathering of these Mercosur leaders produced the ‘São Paulo Declaration on Culture and Sustainability’.”

Jose Murillo:

“The Meeting of Senior Officials on South-American Culture and Sustainability was held in the city of São Paulo, Federative Republic of Brazil, on April 14, 2012. Gathered together were he Ministers, Secretaries of State and other authorities of Culture of the Republic of Argentina, Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Chile, Republic of Ecuador, Republic of Paraguay, Republic of Peru and the Republic of Uruguay;”

The Text

GUIDED BY the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of 2001, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions of UNESCO in 2005, the Convention for the Protection of Cultural and Natural World Heritage of UNESCO in 1972, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage UNESCO, 2003, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2008, the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001; the Ibero-American Cultural Charter of 2006, the Agenda 21 for culture, and the Declaration of Bogotá – First Meeting of the Andean Council of Ministers of Culture and Cultures, 2012, and other statements issued by the Ministers and High Authorities of Culture of Mercosur , the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), the Bolivarian Alternative for the Arnéricas (ALBA) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in their regular meetings;


The need to establish a new international economic order and a new financial architecture, in order to cope with multiple current crises and to ensure funding mechanisms for sustainable development;

The cultural character of sustainability is intrinsic to the concept; the very notion of “support” emerges from a cultural milieu and reproduces itself socially from a consensus of values among different social groups, each group being imbued with its symbolic baggages, historical heritage and its relations with the territory and environment;

The UNESCO document, “The Power of Culture for the Development”, states that: “The culture, in all its dimensions, is a key component of sustainable development”;

The conviction that, beyond its traditional role in the promotion and protection of arts and heritage, cultural policy must exert transformative force, promoting interculturalism, the full exercise of cultural rights, social inclusion and good relations, as well as the strengthening the ties of people and communities with the territory and the cohesion and convergence of the distinct social groups;

The transversality and the strategic role of culture in building a response to the challenges of sustainability and human development with equity and social inclusion;

The recognition of the diversity of cultural expressions as an essential condition for sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations;
The need for coordination of efforts to deepen the dialogue between countries of the region with a view to recovery of culture as an indivisible dimension of sustainable development;

The need to actualize these principles, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, in June 2012, of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio +20;


1.Request that the negotiating authorities of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development treat, in its final document, culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development; thus recognizing culture as the organizing dimension and generator of balance between the three pillars already acknowledged — the economic, the social, and the environmental;

2. Promote the concept of “Living Well” as a perspective of sustainability — traditionally expressed as Sumak Kawsay, in the Quechua language; Sumaq Qarnana, in the Aymara language, and Teko Pora, in the Goaran language. This form of citizen ethics, was born of and organized through the articulation of dynamic and sustainable systems of economic, political, social, cultural and environmental, that have aimed to ensure the reproduction of life within an intergenerational horizon;

3. Emphasize that respect for cultural diversity and the promotion of interculturalism are indispensable for the consolidation of peace and global security by supporting the democratic coexistence with fair and mutual respect among peoples;

4. Affirm cultural rights as part of the human rights and ensure their full enjoyment, as well as the democratization of the cultural processes;

5. Promote, at the national and regional level, articulated and transversal public policies focused on protection, promotion and safeguarding of the cultural and natural heritage, recognizing them as both a heritage and an indispensable link between past, present and future;

6. Underscore the need to start a negotiation for a Universal Declaration of the RIghts of Nature, in which it is recognized that Nature is subject to cycles and the evolutionary process of humanity;

7. Highlight the importance of the social dimension of a culture for sustainable development, which includes effective in civic education, the exercise of democratic values and opportunities of access to information, knowledge and artistic creation, as well as the broad freedom of expression;

8. Reaffirm culture in its economic dimension, as it induces the creation, innovation, entrepreneurship and generation of wealth and employment opportunities and considering that the cultural production processes should enhance the local specialties and traditional knowledge;

9. Develop joint actions aimed at strengthening the creative economy of the region, fostering the exchange of experiences and policies that promote the economic potential of cultural communities and different creative territories for value innovation, inclusion, sustainability and cultural diversity;

10. Recognize, in the same way, the environmental component of the cultural diversity of South American people, that demonstrates the preservation and legitimacy of indigenous peoples over their own territories and modes of interaction with the ecosystem in which they live, as well as preservation and protection of tangible and intangible heritage of the region;

11.Guarantee protection, recognition and appreciation of knowledge from the cultures of indigenous peoples of South America, people of African descent and the diverse communities of our countries;

12. Pursue the effectiveness of regional cooperation efforts with regard to the strategic role of culture and the challenges of sustainability, taking into consideration the construction of more equal societies, conscious and inclusive;

13. Develop joint initiatives to strengthen the transversal character of culture and its relationship with other public policies that contribute to poverty eradication and promotion of Living Well;

14. To continue, with the support and participation of different sectors of civil society, the debate on culture and sustainability beyond the period of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

The Ministers and High Authorities expressed their commitment to forward this Declaration to national government bodies involved in the official negotiation process of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, as well as to promote it in multilateral forums in which they participate.

Signed in Sao Paulo, on April 14, 2012.

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