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Canada and Quebec are co-organizing the first meeting of the UNESCO Group of Experts on the diversity of cultural expression in the digital environment

Press Release

From: Canadian Heritage

Québec City, May 27, 2024 – The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mathieu Lacombe, Minister of Culture and Communications, Minister responsible for Youth and Minister responsible for the Outaouais region, as well as Martine Biron, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Status of Women, are proud to launch the activities for the first meeting of the UNESCO Group of Experts on the diversity of cultural expression in the digital environment.

This meeting of experts from around the world will be held in Québec City from May 28 to 30, 2024. It will be preceded on May 27 by a day of conferences for Canadian, Quebec and international cultural workers. These conferences will be organized by the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE), with the collaboration of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD).

Over the past few months, Canada and the government of Quebec have supported the creation of this international group of 18 independent experts within UNESCO. Until the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee in February 2025, this group will conduct a reflection and make recommendations to the Parties to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (“2005 Convention”) on four themes: the linguistic diversity of cultural content online, the discoverability of local and national cultural content online, the greater transparency of digital platforms, and the impact of artificial intelligence on cultural and creative industries.

As co-organizers of the UNESCO Group of Experts meeting, Canada and Quebec will use this work on the 2005 Convention to advance the priorities of Canadian and Quebec artists, organizations and cultural and creative industries, as they relate to the implementation of this Convention in the digital environment. The 2005 Convention, which now has 153 signatories, is an essential instrument for ensuring the diversity of cultural expressions in all environments, including the digital environment.

The May 27 conferences, organized by the CDCE, with the collaboration of the IFCCD, will be held under the theme Promoting our cultures in the digital age – Conversations among cultural workers from here and abroad. These conferences will focus on the priority themes listed in UNESCO’s mandate to this group of international experts. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO is also involved in the activity and will present an Indigenous cultural segment as part of the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

Cultural workers from Quebec and Canada are invited to visit the CDCE website for program information on the May 27 conferences.

Quotes

“UNESCO is dedicated to strengthening the diversity of cultural expressions in the context of innovative digital technologies, particularly generative artificial intelligence. We are delighted to be working with our longstanding partners, Canada and Quebec, to bring together, for the first time, experts who can enlighten Member States on the opportunities and challenges of the digital environment.”

—Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO

“Our priority is to promote the growth and influence of our creative industries in a context of profound change, especially in the digital sphere. This is why the discussions taking place in the coming days are crucial in helping governments identify the solutions and collaborative solutions that should be adopted to reach these goals. As a government, it is important to take stock of current challenges and act. This work has already started with the adoption of the Online Streaming Act, which modernizes our approach to taking account of issues like discoverability and to ensuring that foreign platforms contribute to our cultural ecosystems by promoting our creators, our stories and our expertise.”

— The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Today’s digital environment is having a major impact on people’s access to their cultures and to diverse cultural content in multiple languages. It is vital to find solutions to promote diversified cultural content that reaches its audiences, especially youth. We are working on these issues and hope that the work carried out by the UNESCO Group of Experts will fuel Quebec’s actions. This international mobilization for linguistically diverse cultural content in the digital world is tremendous.”

— Mathieu Lacombe, Minister of Culture and Communications, Minister responsible for Youth and Minister responsible for the Outaouais region

“The Quebec government’s role at UNESCO on the diversity of cultural expressions is a true diplomatic success. In recent months, Quebec has reaffirmed its leadership in this field, particularly on the issue of linguistically diverse online cultural content. Hosting this international meeting in Québec City, our national capital, will allow us to reaffirm our commitment to the 2005 Convention in the digital environment and, with the contribution of Quebec civil society, to reflect on innovative solutions to better address the issues we consider priorities for ensuring the continuity of our culture and language.”

— Martine Biron, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Status of Women

“It is heartening to note that, 25 years after an initial wave of mobilization that gave rise to the very first Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE), and few years later, to the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD), the Canadian and Quebec cultural milieu remains strongly committed to preserving cultural sovereignty in the context of digital commerce, a core element of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.”

— Bill Skolnik, Co-Chair of the CDCE and representative of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada

“Amplifying the diversity of our cultural expressions through technology is possible. If States firmly commit to updating their implementation of the 2005 Convention in the digital context, this could well be the stepping stone needed to achieve that amplification.”

— Hélène Messier, Co-Chair of the CDCE and President and CEO of the Association québécoise de la production médiatique

Quick facts

  • The creation of this group was approved by the 153 Parties at the 9th session of the Conference of Parties to the 2005 Convention, held from June 6 to 8, 2023.
  • The Intergovernmental Committee, which is responsible for monitoring the decisions of the Conference of Parties, is the other governing body of the 2005 Convention.
  • The meeting will be held in Québec City, whose historic district of Old Québec has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1985 in recognition of its rich history and heritage. Québec City is part of UNESCO’s global Creative Cities Network as a City of Literature.
  • A conference organized by the cultural community will take place ahead of the meeting. The organizers are the CDCE and the IFCCD. The CDCE brings together some 50 associations, unions and management companies in the Quebec and Canadian cultural sectors, representing over 350,000 creators and professionals, and 3,000 companies. The IFCCD brings together some 30 members, based in 30 countries, representing coalitions of creators and cultural businesses.

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Contacts

For more information (media only), please contact:

Ariane Joazard-Bélizaire
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
ariane.joazard-belizaire@pch.gc.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
1-819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
media@pch.gc.ca

Amelia Benattia
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Culture and Communications, Minister responsible for Youth and Minister responsible for the Outaouais region
514-294-2806
amelia.benattia@mcc.gouv.qc.ca

Media Relations Team
Ministère de la Culture et des Communications
418-380-2388
medias@mcc.gouv.qc.ca

Catherine Boucher
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
418-802-6833

Media Relations
Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie
Québec.ca
Québec.ca/international
medias@mri.gouv.qc.ca

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