Image from the British Council’s Crafting Futures programme in East Asia which promotes cultural heritage and supports the livelihoods of women artisans in Vietnam ©

Nic Shonfield

Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth is a new, two-year pilot programme (2018-2020).

It seeks to pioneer ways of creating inclusive and sustainable growth through the sharing and preservation of local cultural heritage.  

By 'inclusive growth' we mean economic growth that benefits all levels of society. 

By 'cultural heritage' we mean any type of cultural object or activity that is connected to an individual’s history and identity. This could be anything from the built environment to cultural traditions such as music and language.

Utilising cultural heritage as a tool to create inclusive growth is a new concept. It was put forward in a British Council produced report to share findings from a recent sector consultation and international research. The report suggests that when people or communities are given the opportunity to engage with, learn from and promote their own cultural heritage, it can contribute to social and economic development. 

We are already exploring this idea through the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, where projects seeking to protect cultural heritage at risk in the Middle East and North Africa are resulting in economic or social growth in the countries they are taking place in. 

The report advocates for an ‘inclusive way of working’. This means engaging with individuals and local communities and connecting them with their heritage, whilst also working to support institutions to effect positive change for all levels of society. The idea is that this will not only lead to economic growth but will also lead to better social welfare. 

It is suggested that by delivering initiatives that focus on heritage and employ this ‘inclusive' approach we can embed growth into the fabric of society, whilst celebrating the past in today’s evolving world. 

To test this concept, we are now delivering action-research projects in: 

  • Colombia
  • Kenya
  • Vietnam

Through these programmes, we are exploring what the notion of cultural heritage for inclusive growth means to people on the ground. Through the two year programme (2018-2020) we will share our findings in the UK and internationally to help to pioneer this new way of creating sustainable economic and social growth in developing countries.