On the occasion of the African Ministers of Culture of the African Union meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on 13 and 14 December 2005, the Director-General of UNESCO sent a message inviting the Ministers to develop “clear-sighted and determined” cultural policies in order to allow culture to take its “just place in the process of sustainable development
Mr Matsuura highlighted that "culture is today, more than ever, thought to be the foundation of development. It concerns at the same time the fundamental values of societies, the tangible and intangible heritage to be preserved and contemporary creativity as expressed in the arts and cultural industries. Without being a panacea for the problems related to culture in its social, economic and political context, it represents a critical approach for the construction of a national identity respectful of multiple identities".
Moreover, The Director-General also delighted to note the importance that this Conference attaches to the question of cultural industries which, in the broadest sense, includes the publishing and music industry and the film industry, the entire audiovisual industry, crafts, design, fashion and creation, cultural industries are a key area for preserving and promoting cultural identities, dialogue among cultures and development in its economic, social and, obviously, cultural dimensions. For Mr. Matsuura, as a factor of development and source of employment, cultural industries play a great role in international trade, yet Africa derives very little, far too little, from such trade. This is truly paradoxical as there is no better source of such prime resources as creativity, talent and skill. Music and craft, to mention but two examples, are assets from which Africa should benefit much more widely and enduringly. Today, it is important to be able to harness globalization for the benefit of all. This will determine choices in regard to national policies, regional or subregional agreements and positive developments on the international scene.
Underlining that UNESCO has just been the forum of fruitful debate, which has led to the adoption of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which puts the finishing touches to the Organization’s standardsetting machinery for the protection of cultural diversity, Mr Matsuura hopes that African countries, which have done a great deal to promote this instrument, will be among the first to ratify it and apply it to the letter and in keeping with its spirit which is one of pluralism and freedom.