The Role of Culture in Development: The Aga Khan Speaks at UNESCO Conference in China — AKDN Press Release

Please also see: Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan

Hangzhou, China, 15 May 2013 – His Highness the Aga Khan today delivered the keynote address at a conference entitled “Culture: Key to Sustainable Development” organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China and the Hangzhou Municipal Government in Hangzhou, China.

As Chairman of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), the Aga Khan shared examples of how the Trust had been able to use culture as a catalyst for development. The examples included the restoration, through the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, of 20 major heritage sites in nine different countries – many of them at UNESCO World Heritage Sites – including Kabul, Cairo and Zanzibar.

The Aga Khan was received by Her Excellency Madame Liu Yandong, Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China, who opened the Conference. The Congress provided the first global forum to discuss the role of culture in sustainable development within the context of the post-2015 development framework. Major international stakeholders and other members of the global community, representing 82 countries, participated in the conference.

During his speech, the Aga Khan shared key lessons learned from AKTC’s decades of work in the area of cultural development: first, the concept of public-private partnership is an essential keystone for effective cultural development, and these partnerships must be maintained throughout the life of the project. Second, while cultural development often begins with physical legacies, planning must focus well beyond cultural goals. Third, the engagement of the local community from the earliest stages is imperative for success; fourth, the resilience and adaptability of all partners, including the people of local neighbourhoods, is critical; and fifth, that planning for such projects must anticipate how they will operate on a continuing basis after they are completed.


The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is an international development agency specifically dedicated to leveraging culture for social and economic advancement. It has received a number of international prizes for its work, including a number of UNESCO Culture Heritage Conservation
Awards. The Trust works in concert with the other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a family of institutions created by His Highness the Aga Khan that have distinct yet complementary mandates to improve the welfare and prospects of people throughout the world. AKDN devotes over US$ 600 million a year to social and cultural development activities around the world. Its 80,000 employees work in 30 countries, mostly in Asia and Africa.

Source: Aga Khan Development Network org

Photos on The Ismaili Org:

Mawlana Hazar Imam delivers the keynote address at the international congress  on the role of culture in development in Hangzhou, China. Photo: AKDN / Katharina Hesse
Mawlana Hazar Imam delivers the keynote address at the international congress on the role of culture in development in Hangzhou, China. Photo: AKDN / Katharina Hesse

Mawlana Hazar Imam participates in a panel discussion on Culture in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Seated from left to right: Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman of the BRAC Foundation, Irina Bekova, Director-General of UNESCO, Petko Draganov, Deputy Secretary-General of th. Photo: AKDN / Katharina Hesse
Mawlana Hazar Imam participates in a panel discussion on Culture in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Seated from left to right: Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman of the BRAC Foundation, Irina Bekova, Director-General of UNESCO, Petko Draganov, Deputy Secretary-General of th. Photo: AKDN / Katharina Hesse

Source: The Ismaili Org

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