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Illustration: Andreas Mayer

Towards More Sustainable Development I

Multilateral organisations and cultural relations in the 2030 agenda and beyond

30 Oct 2023
10:00 – 18:30 CET
online via Zoom

The ICRRA Conference 2023 will take place on October 30th and November 2nd.

To the programme on November 2nd

About the Conference

Culture and international cultural relations are integral to global efforts to tackle the interconnected challenges of sustainable development.

The 2023 ICRRA conference focuses on the role that cultural relations can play in supporting multilateral and regional organisations to deliver – and think beyond – the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Multilateralism and culture play a key role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is evidenced by the aims of the 2024 UN Summit of the Future: Multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow to “reaffirm existing commitments including to the SDGs” as well as by the key result of the UNESCO 2022 MONDIACULT World Conference calling for a “stand-alone goal for culture in the post-2030 development agenda”.

On Day 1 of the 2023 ICRRA conference we will explore what this means in practice for multilateral organisations (e.g. UNESCO), regional organisations (e.g. EU, AU, ASEAN, CELAC) and regional commissions of the UN and other global organisations (e.g. CEPAL). And we want to discuss how cultural relations – as a practice and approach based on mutuality, trust and reciprocity outside of formal diplomatic state-to-state relations – can inform and engage with these stakeholders and ways of working. 

What is the role of multilateral organisations in delivering the sustainable development agenda? What could be the impact of the standalone goal for culture for sustainable development in the post-2030 period?

Programme outline on October 30th

Monday, 30. Oct 2023
10:00 - 11:30

Keynote I: Alexandra Xanthaki

Alexandra Xanthaki

45 minutes presentation followed by discussion 

Moderator: Okaka Dokotum 

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Monday, 30. Oct 2023
14:00 - 15:30

The 2030 sustainable development agenda: putting 'culture' back in its place

Yudhishthir Raj Isar

Keynote II

This talk will make a case for toning down our culturalist rhetoric, curbing our ambitions and being clearsighted about what “culture” and cultural relations can actually deliver for the 2030 sustainable development agenda. 

45 minutes presentation followed by discussion 

Moderator: César Villanueava

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Monday, 30. Oct 2023
17:00 - 18:30

The Value of Multilateral Organisations in a 2030 and post-2030 SDG Environment

Ouafa Belgacem, Pablo Raphael de la Madrid, Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, Jordi Pascual

Panel discussion I

  • How do multilateral organisations focussing on culture engage with an increasingly diversified and divergent global environment?
  • What is the role of multilateral organisations in the post-2030 sustainable development agenda, specifically the standalone goal for culture?  

Moderator: Venka Perushotanan

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Keynote Speakers

Alexandra Xanthaki

Director of Research at hte Brunel Law School, London

Alexandra Xanthaki was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2021. She is Professor of Law at Brunel University London, teaching human rights. Her many publications on cultural rights vary from cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples to cultural diversity, cultural heritage, balancing cultural rights with other rights and interests, and multicultural aspects of international human rights law.

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Portrait of Yudhishthir Raj Isar

Yudhishthir Raj Isar

Education Director for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Yudhishthir Raj Isar has been Education Director for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture since 2017. At UNESCO from 1973 to 2002, Isar was notably Editor-in Chief of the journal Museum, Secretary of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation, and Executive Secretary of the World Commission on Culture and Development. 

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Portrait of Ouafa Belgacem

Ouafa Belgacem

Founder, Creative Director, Ambassador

Ouafa Belgacem is founder and CEO of Culture Funding Watch, Civil Society Manager at the Anna Lindh Foundation and Creative Director at the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce. She is named among the 100 most influential creatives of African descent 2021 and the 500 Most Powerful Africans 2022. In the Digital Africa Programme she is Connector for the North Africa region.

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Portrait of Pablo Raphael de la Madrid

Pablo Raphael de la Madrid

Narrator, essayist and diplomat

Pablo Raphael de la Madrid, former general director of International Affairs at the Mexico ministry of culture and executive coordinador UNESCO world conference on cultural policiesan sustainable development, Mondiacult 2022.

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Portrait of Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta

Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta

Director General of the Mystetskyi Arsenal

Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta is Director General of the National Art and Culture Museum Complex Mystetskyi Arsenal (Art Arsenal) in Ukraine, and Board member of the Warm City platform for initiatives (Ivano-Frankivsk) and the CEDOS think tank in Kiev. 

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Portrait of Jordi Pascual

Jordi Pascual

Culture Committee of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

Jordi Pascual is coordinator of the Culture Committee of the world organisation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and member of the global campaign Culture 2030 Goal that advocates for a stand-alone goal for culture in the SDGs.

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Portrait shot of a man in suit.

Venka Purushothaman

Art and Cultural Scientist

Venka Purushothaman is deputy president and provost at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. He is an award-winning art writer, and holds a PhD in Cultural Policy and Asian Cultural Studies from The University of Melbourne.

Venka founded the Asia-Pacific Network for Culture, Education and Research (ANCER) and co-founded the Global Design Initiative. He chairs the Strategy Board of Zurich-based Shared Campus, a consortium of arts universities developing new art and design educational paradigms. And he chairs the International Advisory Board of the New York-based Living Arts International and is a member of ICRRA.

Venka’s research focuses on contemporary art, cultural policy and relations, and cultural and educational leadership. He is the author of several publications, including The Art of Sukumar Bose: Reflections on South and Southeast Asia (2013).

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César Villanueva

Political scientist

César Villanueva is a professor of International Relations and Public / Cultural Diplomacy at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City. He has a PhD in Political Science from Linnaeus University in Sweden, and is a frequent lecturer on Cultural Relations, Soft power, international images and cultural / public diplomacy.

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Portrait of Okaka Dokotum

Okaka Opio Dokotum

Deputy Vice Chancellor at Lira University

Dr. Okaka Opio Dokotum is an Associate Professor of Literature and Film and Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs at Lira University in northern Uganda. Dokotum is the author of Hollywood and Africa: Recycling the 'Dark Continent' Myth, 1908-2020 (2020) among other books in English and Lëblango, his mother tongue.

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The conference language is English with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish.

The conference continues with a second day of panel discussions and case studies on 2nd November 2023

An event by

Researchers and practitioners exchange views on questions of international cultural relations through the International Cultural Relations Research Alliance (ICRRA) network. The network sees itself as a bridge builder between practical cultural work, academic reflection, policy advice and the media. It supports the transfer of research-based knowledge into politics and society and promotes evidence-based discourse. Find out more on the ifa website.


Dr. Christina Buck-Rieder

Project Coordinator Dialogue and Research Culture and Foreign Policy

Charlottenplatz 17
D-70173 Stuttgart

Telephone: +49.711.2225.123