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The Strength of Culture for Development

Why Culture Matters in International Cooperation

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Edited By Pascaline Gaborit

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.
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Networks of Cities, a Partnership for a Better Future of Cooperation

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Interview with Roger TROPÈANO

President of the Network Les Rencontres, Association of European Cities and Regions for Culture

Can you give some information about the organization? What is your role and responsibilities?

I am the chairman of this network, which is more or less 20 years old. The members of this network are local authorities, i.e. cities, regions, counties and provinces. This applies to the European Union, but can also be extended to countries bordering the EU such as the Balkans, as well as countries within the European economic space, like Norway or Switzerland. Size however, is not important for us. Sometimes we deal with small cities, sometimes middle sized cities, and sometimes large capitals. There are two types of members who are affiliated with Les Rencontres:

1: Local authorities. The local authorities are represented either by politicians, such as the deputy mayor in charge of culture, or the local alderman in charge of the local culture/leisure sector in the local authority.

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2: Associated members such as: theatres, orchestras, culture structures (such as the Atomium in Brussels), universities and so on.

What is, in your view, the role of culture in international development/cooperation? Is culture a tool for development cooperation, or rather an obstacle?

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