The impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector is being felt around the world. In these challenging times of mass confinement, billions of people are turning to culture as a source of comfort, wellbeing, and connection. There has been a surge in the creation of, and access to, cultural content online, from virtual visits to museums and galleries, streaming of films and even community choirs via social media, showing its fundamental role as a source of resilience for communities. Major crises throughout history have often given rise to a renaissance of culture and an explosion of new forms of creativity, so vital for human progress.
In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in December 2002, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 57/249, declared May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. This day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together peacefully in a spirit of dialogue and openness. Celebrating cultural diversity means opening up new perspectives for sustainable development and promoting creative industries and cultural entrepreneurship as sources of millions of jobs worldwide, particularly for young people.
The unfolding crisis risks deepening inequalities and rendering communities vulnerable. In addition, the creative and cultural industries (CCI) contribute US$2,250bn to the global economy (3% of GDP) and account for 29.5 million jobs worldwide. The economic fall-out of not addressing the cultural sector, and all auxiliary services, particularly in the tourism sector, could also be disastrous.
Culture is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, and moral. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development. Culture is a sustainable development accelerator whose potential has been recognised in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations.
The World Assembly of Youth (WAY) promotes culture and highlights the significance of its diversity as an agent of inclusion and positive change. WAY also encourages young people and youth organisations to take concrete action to support diversity. We aim in building a world community of individuals committed with real and everyday-life gestures. WAY also bring people from different societies, communities, and countries together so that they can share ideas, thoughts, and actions on how to improve cooperation on a global level and among the youth.
Realising the importance of this day, we foster inter-cultural and international understanding and cooperation, and promote tolerance, understanding, team spirit and cooperation among young men and women irrespective of race, sex, language, religion or political orientation. WAY integrates culture into all development principles, especially those related to youth issues of cultural diversity in a multicultural youth context. We are endowed with diverse cultural heritage, comprising different young people from different countries and cultures, each with their own exceptional characteristics.
Our target is to enable young people to successfully address issues of cultural diversity and mutual respect among different age groups from all over the globe. We urge everyone to raise awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity, and inclusion and combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among young people from different cultures.