International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development

15 February 2021

Why Creative Economy in 2021?

Today, more and more people are turning their ideas and imaginations into livelihoods. The creative economy is one of the worlds most rapidly growing sectors, contributing 3% of the global GDP. Creativity is also a renewable, sustainable, limitless resource that we can find anywhere around the world. As we face the climate crisis and the pandemic, its potential to drive a human-centric, inclusive development has never been more relevant.

Creativity is the industry of tomorrow.

The year 2021 was declared the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development at the 74th United Nations General Assembly. The implementation of the Year is led by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in consultation with UNESCO and other relevant UN entities.

The International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development could not have come at a more relevant time. The COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed the creative economy. From creation, production, distribution to access, no actor within the creative value chain has been spared its impact. The health crisis also revealed and worsened the pre-existing vulnerabilities within the culture sector. Many artists and cultural professionals have been ineligible for social and economic assistances that saved workers in other sectors. While we consumed cultural content online more than ever before, artists and creators rarely received fair remuneration for our clicks and views.

But the health crisis also showed us how essential creativity is to our well-being to our survival. In 2020, people found solace and resilience in films, series, music and dance. This heightened appreciation for the arts makes 2021 the opportune time in history to celebrate and invest in the creative economy.

Join us and unleash the power of creativity for a resilient tomorrow!

Creative Economy accounts for 3% Global GDP
Cultural and Creative Industries generate 2,250 billion USD annually
Culture sector employs 30 million people worldwide

UNESCOs Commitment

Creative economy is expansive, and its actors are diverse. At the heart of this dynamic economy are cultural and creative industries, which stand at the crossroad of arts, culture, commerce and technology. The sector generates 2,250 billion USD annually and provides more jobs to workers aged 18-25 than any other fields of employment.

As the only UN organisation with a specific mandate in culture, it is UNESCOs role to highlight and amplify cultures contribution to the global creative economy and sustainable development throughout 2021. Our advocacy and activities are founded on three principles.

We think digital Equitable digital transformation and remuneration
We champion artists Economic and social rights of artists and cultural professionals
We work together Inter-agency partnerships and participatory projects

Call for Action

We need a creative economy ecosystem that accommodates creators. Careers in the creative industry must be viable, and characterised by dignified working conditions, decent pay and growth opportunities.

UNESCO calls on policymakers and global leaders to conduct an exhaustive policy review from employment, social security, digital adaption, intellectual property, to education and more. Data collection, industry workers consultation and gendered perspective can serve as a compass as we work together towards a truly inclusive, nurturing creative economy.

Everyone can join the celebration. Follow the easy steps listed in the UNESCO guide and show your support for creators and the creative economy!

UNESCO Roadmap
Member State Guide
Civil Society Guide

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