The Strength of Culture for Development

Why Culture Matters in International Cooperation

by Pascaline Gaborit (Volume editor)
©2014 Edited Collection 237 Pages


On the global scale, the challenges surrounding development are massive and complex, as inequalities in living conditions between the richest and poorest countries become greater. Development is a global challenge on a par with the financial crisis and environmental concerns. The participation of local communities and towns in development programmes may result from a desire for influence at an international level, rather than the idea that they can bring some measure of stability, like the large NGOs.
In this context, culture remains an omnipresent factor. Indeed, culture takes on a multifaceted front for it is not solely limited to the organisation of cultural activities or the protection of heritage, but also about the values, significance, and everyday actions of human communities. It contributes to the well-being of local populations. Using culture as a transversal tool to solve the development issues means tackling those issues from a different angle: bringing solutions to some multicultural questions that exist in rich countries.
This book brings together a selection of articles by researchers and experts in this area from a wide variety of backgrounds, disciplines and countries.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Forewords
  • Introduction
  • The Weight of Culture in the Struggle for Development
  • Culture, Migrations, and Sustainable Development of Cities
  • Networks of Cities, a Partnership for a Better Future of Cooperation
  • Integrating Culture in Decentralized Cooperation
  • Cities Looking Ahead, the International Cooperation of Almere
  • The Role of Diasporas
  • Stating the Obvious? The Role of Diaspora and Migrant Organizations in Development
  • Integration of Migrants in Harlow
  • Cultural Diversity and Social Work with Migrants
  • Towards City Diplomacy
  • A Myth about the Rise of City Diplomacy in Europe?
  • Participative Cooperation of Urban Planners around the World
  • Music and Art for Development
  • “World Music”: the Strategic Challenge for Local and Territorial Development Closely Bound With the Life of a People
  • Cultural Intervention, a Co-Construction to Build on Trust
  • Evaluation and Public Strategies
  • Actions of Local Cooperation in Matters of Culture and Development, Elements of Analysis
  • Biographies

| 9 →




European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth – 2010-2014

Culture is the internal force that drives a society forward. It preserves values and traditions. It can rise above prejudices and unite us.

Indeed, this is the essence of the European integration project – a commitment to a Europe that is open to the world, respectful of cultural diversity and whose people share common values such as tolerance, solidarity, respect for diversity and human rights.

That is why the European Union is not just about market forces and economics. It’s also about celebrating the diversity of national cultures, nurturing a shared cultural identity and projecting these values in our links with the wider world.

Culture can make a vital contribution to our economic, political and social development. It also has an exceptional potential as a driver for creativity and innovation and generates positive spill-over effects on to other sectors of the economy such as tourism, ICTs and the Internet.

Calls to integrate culture in sustainable development have multiplied in recent years. But the need to include culture in development policy is ← 9 | 10 → still not fully recognised or tends to be forgotten. We therefore have to continue our efforts to change this.

For this reason, I welcome publications like this one on “The Strength of Culture for Development”. The articles and interviews you will find here help to drive home the message that culture is a powerful tool for the sustainable development of people and societies that we must take full advantage of.

I invite you now to delve into the pages that follow and wish you inspiring reading.



← 10 | 11 →


Bernard FAIVRE d’Arcier

Culture Consultant, Former Director of Avignon Festival

This book is a collective work that highlights the role of local authorities in the development of culture and, consequently, in the wider issue of development per se. This is the aim of the European project AWARD, in which the project creators are also participative partners.

Culture is understood here as the invisible bonds of social cohesion that promote the ‘coexistence’ of individuals and communities against a same urban backdrop. In addition to the creation and frequentation of art-related events and the organisation of cultural events, the aim is also to enhance this cohesion which leads to greater humanity between citizens, taking their social, economic, and urban living conditions into account. Of course, it also involves conflict resolution (City Diplomacy), a sharp focus on migrant communities and decentralised international cooperation.

The reflections in this work stem from both long academic experience and concrete case studies of various-sized cities as diverse as Ljubljana, Clermont-Ferrand, Cergy-Pontoise, Almere, and Harlow. The work provides ample reasons to take part in the actions that Mario d’Angelo expediently labels C/D/C as they link international Culture, Development and Cooperation, even at a time when the economic crisis restricts the actions of certain local authorities or even increases the need for them.

| 13 →


On the global scale, the challenges surrounding development are massive as they are manifold. Living condition inequalities are worsening for inhabitants in both the richest and poorest countries, but institutions and civil society are not yet truly alarmed by the situation. Whilst general attention is permanently diverted to the danger posed by the global economic crisis or those linked to the environment or global warming, some other pressing matters linked to development, like the Millennium Development Goals,1 are relegated to the background. There is no global mobilization for issues regarding life expectancy in the poorest countries, access to healthcare, clean water, education, housing; on top of the recurring civil conflicts that are blindly decimating populations, in South Sudan for example, or more recently in the Central African Republic.

Faced with this global crisis and the subsequent destabilising financial and economic factors, countries put aside the issues concerning international development on the back burner. Corroborating the words of Pierre Hassner who called it: “The dialectic between the bourgeois and the barbarian”; citizens of rich countries assist dumbstruck by the reality of conflicts, scenarios and atrocities scrolling down in front of their very eyes from the different corners of the globe…2

Development aid, both state-funded or via multilateral sponsorship, is generally being reduced, whether through direct aid channels, the NGOs, or in decentralised cooperation programmes, with even its existence now brought into question…

Development is a global issue, on a par with the financial crisis or environmental concerns, and modern technology by itself cannot be the sole tool with which to resolve the problems… Even if desertification, deforestation, or rarefaction of clean water resources, could eventually be solved, by the use of modern technology, other issues about governance, public institution capabilities, education, healthcare provision, justice and security in places of conflicts, cannot be overcome simply by implementing technical parameters, but rather through systemic organisational means, ← 13 | 14 → based on reflection, knowledge, research, education and exchanges on a global level…

The possible participation of local authorities or towns in Development programmes depends much more on their capacity to exist and their global sphere of influence, such as the actions of the large NGOs. Meanwhile, the smaller non-profit associations remain vulnerable to economic fluctuations.

In this context, culture remains an omnipresent factor… Indeed, culture takes on a multi-faceted front, for it is not solely limited to the organisation of cultural activities or the conservation of heritage, but it is also about the values, significance of everyday actions of human communities. It contributes to the well-being of local populations. Using culture as a transversal tool to solve development issues means tackling those issues from a different angle: bringing solutions to multicultural questions that exist in rich countries, those relating to the problems of diasporas, and using town diplomacy as an instrument to abet development.

Projecting the importance of culture and cultural events at the local level lies also within the mandate of the AWARD project, taking the form of reflections on the “soul” of the different towns and cities or special residential settings.

Promoting culture, or conserving heritage and the environment equates to protecting this heritage for the prosperity of future generations.

Culture is never absent from the inter-town cooperation programmes, as apparent in the interviews cited in the publication. Heritage, one aspect of the cultural agenda marks out the coat of arms of civilisations past and present and, whilst assimilating all eventual transformations, this must be conserved. At the same time, heritage, as a showcase tool, is not always well embodied by the more ancient towns. It can be conveyed by the less historical towns and the towns participating in the AWARD project, through cultural and performing arts events, such as festivals, shows, musical or urban art programmes. Heritage protection is, indeed, a vital core asset for the development. However, protecting this heritage is subject to the vagaries of wars, poverty, urbanisation and the fickleness of protection measures over the long run.

Long term vision and the coherence of public policies constitute the blueprint for the towns and their development agenda. Alongside this, the integration of cultural factors in the development programmes require a continuous “give and take” between what is new and what is old, preservation and transformation, and between the effects of change and fixity. In short, culture is not only to be found in museums, but also in our lifestyles, our everyday going ons, the management of our towns ← 14 | 15 → and various neighbourhoods within. Culture and development are the core elements of local strategies, and they must project authenticity without rejecting the inevitable changes…

The different articles in this book highlight the importance of defining the issues in a global manner and how to assimilate the different actors of any particular town within its decentralised cooperation programmes, as in all the events promoting culture. Only by considering its history, as much as this is possible, along with the present and future, would it be possible to permanently map out the identity of a particular town and sustain its solidarity and cooperation programmes.

The AWARD project is co-financed by the European Commission. The project brings together local authorities and researchers to deliberate cultural and development issues, with the aim of reinforcing the role of local authorities in development programmes. It contains three pillars: research, promoting awareness of development matters among local authorities, and communication. The activities materialise as exchange programmes and organised events, training, along with feedback from all studies undertaken and reported in this book.

The publication features a plethora of articles from several researchers with different nationalities, expounding a spectrum of differing but complementary approaches.

The articles are set out in different sections… The first responds to the questions about decentralised cooperation for local authorities…issues about motivation, existing difficulties, ambitions, and matters at stake for the new towns involved in the cooperation programmes, are all touched upon in this first article…

The second article, by Brigitte Beauzamy, focuses on the question of town diplomacy in conflict zones since the La Haye conference back in 2008 and how the different towns have attempted to develop activities to promote peace and stability on an international level.

The second section of the publication comments on the role of Diasporas in the development programmes as a means of “providing proof”, as Elise Féron refers in her main article.

The question of cultural inputs by migrant communities and their integration within the sustainable town project is elucidated by Aldo Milhonic, who considers the example of the city of Ljubljana to compare, side by side, the integration and cultural issues. Mario d’Angelo offers an analysis of public policies when culture is injected within the development and research programmes, in particular the inherent role of local authorities. Graham Pearman’s article depicts migrant communities in Harlow and lastly, the article on world music illustrates how culture may reflect international and economic ← 15 | 16 → situations, and how certain categories of world music can take a more central role.

The publication ends by a series of interviews and illustrations by several actors giving their accounts, theories and ideas regarding these burning issues and topics.

1 The Millennium Development Goals can be seen on the following site: http://www.un.org/fr/millenniumgoals/. They have been followed by the post Millenium Development Goals.

2 Pierre Hassner, La violence et la paix, éditions du Seuil, 2000 (first edition 1995).


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (September)
inequalities global challenge stability
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 237 pp., 34 ill., 2 tables

Biographical notes

Pascaline Gaborit (Volume editor)

Pascaline Gaborit is the Director of the European Pilot Cities Platform and coordinator of the AWARD project (Awareness Raising and Education for Development and Culture). She is the author of several books and reports and has more than ten years of experience working with local authorities, researchers and associations. She holds a PhD in Political Science. Her areas of interest are urban development, culture, social issues and sustainable development.


Title: The Strength of Culture for Development
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
253 pages