“Strengthening and diversifying partnerships for ACP cultures” was the theme of the 5th Meeting of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) held on Saturday 19-20 October 2019 at the Palais des Congrès in Niamey. The opening of the meeting was chaired by the President of Niger H.E Mr. Issoufou Mahamadou.
On that occasion, the President of the Republic specified the questions to be addressed by the participants in the meeting, stressing that it “will have to address several issues that correspond to the concerns of our peoples. The aim will be to “strengthen and diversify partnerships in favour of ACP cultures”, “diversify sources of financing to promote the development of cultural and creative industries” and examine “South-South cooperation initiatives: the role of cities and local governments”, exchange on “cultural heritage, creative industries and climate”.
Climate change in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin countries is a major challenge, particularly in terms of its disastrous consequences of poverty and the emergence of threats from terrorist and criminal organizations.
For President Issoufou, “the question of sustainable development is at the heart of the concerns of the peoples of these two regions and your discussions can help us to reflect on the contribution of culture to the fight against the effects of climate change”.
As culture is at the heart of the issues to be discussed, it constitutes the set of “values, customs, beliefs, norms, formal and informal rules, culture can facilitate or hinder development”, the Head of State said.
“For a long time, it was recognized that only Western values are favourable to economic development, with the link between Protestantism and the capitalist spirit being highlighted,” he explained.
He also pointed out that, thanks to the “economic development of certain Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China, it is recognized that the Asian values of Confucianism can be favourable to economic development, thus proving that each society can build its own alternatives to the economic development model adopted in the West, a development model that is now unanimously accepted as being responsible for climate change”.
Culture is a real lever for sustainable development, its role “is recognized through a majority of MDGs ranging from quality education to gender equality, sustainable cities, the environment, inclusive economic growth, consumption patterns, peaceful and inclusive societies. From cultural heritage to cultural and creative industries, culture must be both a vector and a catalyst for sustainable development, a vector contributing to the appropriate use of the planet’s resources, a vector for strengthening the resilience of communities through both mitigation and adaptation measures. We must ask ourselves what our attitudes should be towards the natural environment in which we live. The cultural dimension can serve as a guide for us provided that the values they embody allow it,” the President of the Republic stressed.
Coming to the importance that the Government of Niger attaches to culture in its development actions, he suggested to the participants in this high-level meeting that in Niger “we have made cultural renaissance the first priority of the programme for the renaissance of Niger that we have beenimplementing for almost nine years. It aims at three modernizations: social, political and economic. To achieve these three modernizations we have decided to identify and promote our own values and borrowing values while fighting against counter-values. Through social modernisation, we aim in particular to strengthen the resilience of our populations to the effects of climate change.
In closing, the Head of State stressed that he was confident that the analyses and contributions to the 5th Meeting of Ministers of Culture of the ACP Group of States, “will enable our governments to make the progress we want by guaranteeing and expanding innovative financing for culture, developing and implementing appropriate adaptation measures to climate change and sustainable development, intensifying South-South cooperation in the cultural sector through local and regional authorities and cities. We would then have programmes that would promote the creation of a sustainable cultural and creative industry, the production of quality cultural goods and services and access for cultural producers to innovative financing and local, regional and international markets. I have no doubt that the ongoing ACP-EU negotiations will give culture the place it deserves.
Well before the opening address by the President of the Republic, Issoufou Mahamadou, the Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Arts and Social Modernisation, Mr Assoumana Mallam Issa, after the welcoming words, addressed the audience of personalities present at the meeting, stressing at the outset that “our States are placing culture at the heart of our public policies to make it the main lever for sustainable development”.
According to him, “our country has taken this healthy path by making culture the cornerstone of the 2017-2021 SEOP implemented under the enlightened leadership of the Prime Minister”. Which is a strong wish of the Head of State.
To underline the importance that our country and those of West Africa attach to culture, Assoumana Malam Issa then explained that “the ECOWAS Conference of Ministers, chaired by Niger, just adopted on 17 July 2019, a common cultural policy for Member States with strategic axes that take into account the multiplicity of challenges that characterize our Space”.
“1% of their budget will be devoted to financing culture by 2025,” he suggested.
In the speech delivered by the Under-Secretary General, Department of Political Affairs and Human Development, of the ACP Group, Mr Léonard-Emile Ognimba, it is noted that it was at the most recent meeting of ACP Ministers held in Brussels in 2017 that the essential principles for taking culture and creativity into account in economic and human development in Member States were developed.
During the opening of the 5th Meeting of the ACP Group of States, other important speeches were also delivered. Thus, we note those of the Director General of the European Union’s Cooperation and Development, Mrs Henriette Geiger, and the Regional Director for West Africa and the Sahel of UNESCO, Mr Dimitri Sanger.
The work of this high-level meeting was concluded on Sunday, October 20, 2019. The Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Arts and Social Modernisation, Mr Assoumana Mallam Issa, had the honour of delivering the closing address. On that occasion, he thanked the participants in that meeting and expressed his satisfaction with the results of the work, which had led to the approval and adoption of the Niamey Declaration.