A delegation representing the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth reviewed the country’s effort in protecting cultural property, harnessing tangible heritage for a sustainable future, its strategy to promote the creative economy and the cultural industries and leveraging digital technologies in protecting culture and heritage at the second G20 Culture Working Group (CWG) meeting in Bhubaneshwar, India, in May.

Held under the theme of “Culture Unites All”, the meeting built on the momentum gained in the past two months from discussions with global organisations such as UNESCO focusing on key areas that the UAE shares with the member states.

Shatha Al Mulla, Acting Assistant Undersecretary of the Heritage and Arts Sector in the Ministry of Culture and Youth, pointed out the risks posed by climate change to cultural assets. She said that today's world needs to act quickly to mitigate these challenges. The upcoming COP28 hosted by the UAE at Expo City in November-December this year will be an important opportunity to discuss the climate crisis and strengthen efforts to find appropriate solutions.

The UAE delegation stressed the role of multilateral cooperation and the importance of creating a G20 Culture Working Group Taskforce to align global and national policies on culture and heritage. Efforts to standardise the documentation processes for the cultural property were also highlighted. The delegates also highlighted harnessing modern technologies in the registration and documentation of antiquities.

The delegation explored how living and natural heritage can be harnessed for a sustainable future. They highlighted the importance of documenting indigenous practices while advocating learning and capacity building among youth to ensure these practices are passed on to future generations. They explained how the UAE had promoted traditions and cultural practices through education.

The UAE delegates called for international and multilateral organisations to establish statistical frameworks for data from the cultural and creative industries or the CCI data to gauge the market accurately and identify gaps. The UAE’s partnership with WIPO to standardize the statistical framework and measure the CCI’s contribution to the economy was highlighted.

The UAE is dedicated to developing policies and frameworks supporting and protecting creatives and urged other member states to work closely with international entities to forge global harmonised frameworks.

The need to provide pension schemes and unemployment benefits to creatives was also put forth while discussing capacity building and training opportunities for creative sector practitioners.

Member states were urged to encourage sustainable practices through policies and initiatives to incentivize companies to adopt sustainable practices and take advantage of digital technologies to protect and promote culture.

The UAE recommended unified standards to develop, connect and provide access to digital heritage platforms.

Leveraging technology to create a digital heritage inventory was a way to pass on the assets to future generations. Digital technologies can promote and drive cultural tourism and make culture more accessible.

The UAE delegates also pointed out the need to combat cybersecurity and data privacy challenges through international cooperation and building national and international policies to ensure safe access to technology.