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.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) 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.
As Chairman of 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, that the concept of public-private partnerships was an essential keystone for effective cultural development, and that these partnerships must be maintained throughout the life of the project; second, that while cultural development often begins with physical legacies, planning must focus well beyond cultural goals; third, that the engagement of the local community from the earliest stages was imperative for success; fourth, that the resilience and adaptability of all partners, including the people of local neighbourhoods, was 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.
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The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) includes several individual programmes and units: the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, which promotes the conservation and re-use of buildings and public spaces in historic cities; the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which awards a prize for architecture every three years; the Aga Khan Music Initiative, which supports talented musicians and music educators who are striving to preserve, transmit, and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms; the on-line architectural resource ArchNet.org (www.archnet.org) and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (http://web.mit.edu/akpia/www/). The Museums & Exhibitions unit coordinates the development of a number of museum and exhibition projects.