Culture in the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS


Culture is a growing area of public policy investment for SIDS across all three sub-regions, notably to support economic diversification, enhance resilience in the face of climate change or reclaim historical memories. The safeguarding and promotion of cultural diversity is a common aspiration across SIDS’ cultural policies, reflecting societies which have been shaped by mobility and intercultural exchanges, and marked by the multifaceted contribution of indigenous communities across the three sub-regions. 

The historical pathways of cultural policies across SIDS are deeply intertwined with issues of social justice, emancipation and nation-building. The scope of national policies has gradually expanded, encompassing not only cultural heritage, but also to a growing extent museums, the creative economy and cultural tourism. Ensuring equal access to culture is a major issue, particularly in view of specific issues such as remoteness, urban-rural divide or digital divide. Harnessing culture to tackle youth unemployment and brain drain is a particular area of concern, particularly by fully investing in the creative economy or forging more sustainable cultural tourism pathways. Likewise, culture is increasingly leveraged by countries to spur climate action, food security and disaster risk reduction in view of SIDS’s exposure to the effects of climate change and disasters. 

Aspiring to upscale their contribution to the global policy dialogue on culture and sustainable development, Small Island Developing States are leading the way towards more sustainable and locally owned development pathways. Positioning culture in the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda will be critical to guide national and regional policies in the coming years, spurring a renewed acknowledgement of the potential of SIDS’ rich cultural resources to strengthen resilience and advance sustainable, inclusive development, including by leveraging the creative economy and sustainable tourism, as well as cultural heritage in its diverse forms. Such aspiration was equally voiced by SIDS at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development – MONDIACULT 2022 held in September 2022.

The side event, organized by Cabo Verde in partnership with UNESCO, will seek to carve an inclusive conversation between decision-makers and youth advocates on the role of culture as a driver for sustainable development across the three SIDS sub-regions. Bringing the youth into culture-related discussions is particularly critical in view of the weight of youth cultural employment in SIDS – as the sector employs more youth aged 18-29 across the world -, but also of the importance of culture as a space for youth to express their worldviews and perspectives, and to shape new ideas and innovative approaches to advance sustainable development. The event will also be the opportunity to launch UNESCO’s report Mapping Cultural Policies in Small Islands Developing States, which presents an overview of priority areas for policy investment and related challenges and adaptation at national and regional levels for the future.

Venue and schedule

American University of Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda. 

28 May 2024 | Room 8 | 8 am – 9:30 am.


A 90-minute discussion will be conducted by a moderator, engaging an inclusive conversation between decisionmakers, youth ambassadors and partners based on a set of questions, while also opening up to interactions with the audiences. Speakers will invited to provide insights on the gaps, needs and priorities pertaining to the cultural sector in their respective subregions, addressing ways in which culture helps advance sustainable development.



  • Ms Ana Paolini, Director of the UNESCO Office for the Caribbean

Opening Address: 

  • H.E Dr. José Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde


  • H.E. Mr Rui Alberto de Figueiredo Soares, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Regional Integration of Cabo Verde 
  • H.E. Mr Abraão Aníbal Barbosa Vicente, Minister of Culture and Creative Industries of Cabo Verde (Video message)
  • Hon. Daryll S. Matthew, Minister of Education, Sports and the Creative Industries
  • H.E. Ms Tepaeru Hermann, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cook Islands
  • Ms Anne Lemaistre, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in La Havana
  • Youth Advocate for the AIS sub-region (TBC)
  • Mr Thomas Ogden Jr, Youth Advocate for the Pacific sub-region (Vanuatu)
  • Youth Advocate for the Caribbean sub-region (TBC)

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  1. I am so excited to see the focus on culture as a key aspect of sustainable development in Antigua and Barbuda. It’s inspiring to witness the commitment to preserving cultural diversity and heritage, as well as leveraging the creative economy and sustainable tourism for inclusive growth. The upcoming event at the American University of Antigua seems promising to be a valuable platform for discussing the role of culture in advancing resilience and sustainable development in Small Island Developing States. Looking forward to the insightful discussions and contributions from decision-makers, youth advocates, and partners. Let’s continue to prioritize culture as a driver for positive change and progress in our region. #CulturalResilience #SustainableDevelopmentThroughCulture

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