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The Strength of Culture for Development

Why Culture Matters in International Cooperation


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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Cities Looking Ahead, the International Cooperation of Almere


Interview with Simone EIJSINK

Head of the International and the European department of Almere

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

I am the head of the International and the European department of Almere. My responsibilities are to draft and carry out our policy in these areas. Our organization, the local government of Almere, includes 2000 employees, the board of governors responsible for carrying out the policy, and the board of management who assays this policy. Moreover, the municipality is divided into different departments and one layer above these, one can find the two city branches. One branch serves as the business unit and the other branch deals with administrative matters and concern control. I am part of the latter unit.

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

Culture is a very accessible way to unite different groups with different cultural backgrounds. Culture can be seen as a kind of lubricant to establish smooth relations, not only on a cultural level, but also on an economic or political level. I have especially noticed this in our ← 71 | 72 → international co-operation with China. In my point of view, culture is an instrument and not an obstacle.

Could you name cases of good practices and give examples of exemplary towns you have observed/studied?

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