Culture is increasingly prominent on the international agenda. But the discussion about whether and how culture contributes to combating poverty and sustainable development has far to go. Part nine in a series about culture and development policy by donor countries.


December 2004 -

Canada views the world as a cultural mosaic. The country strives to promote not only its own cultural diversity, but also its ideas about this. It is not without cause that the word multi-culturalism was thought up in Canada: collectively Canadians speak more than one hundred languages.

On the global level, Canada considers itself the leader in the debate on cultural diversity. Not only within Unesco, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Cultural Committee of the European Council, in which Canada participates as observer, but also within international policy organisations. For example, Canada is one of the founders of the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP), a forum of more than 300 organisations from 63 countries that strives to combat the threat of globalisation by compiling a policy framework for cultural diversity.

The Department of Canadian Heritage, which executes Canadian foreign policy together with the Department of Foreign Affairs, is also studying international legislation regarding culture and is the only non-European country that is a member of the Cultural Information Research Centre Liaison in Europe (CIRCLE). The department also launched the Canadian Cultural Observatory (CCO) in 2003. This is an interactive website with information about cultural policy, statistics and cultural trends.

In addition to its ideas on culture, Canada promotes international cooperation. Striking is the fact that in this, Canada does not distinguish between developing countries and developed countries. These denominators appear to be unimportant; the Canadian policy is about safeguarding the diversity everywhere in the world. In the area of film and audio-visuals, Canada has also entered into agreements for co-productions with no less than 62 countries. Canada has the closest cultural relationships with France, the United States and Great Britain. In addition, together with Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, South Africa, South Korea and the countries in the Caribbean, Canada regularly organises cultural events and artist exchanges.