In a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of Tet or Vietnamese Traditional Lunar New Year, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Office in Hanoi highlighted the significant achievements that Vietnam has made at the UN cultural agency in 2023. For the first time, Vietnam is serving in five institutional structures of UNESCO.

Vietnam currently holds membership in the UNESCO Executive Board for the 2021-2025 tenure, the World Heritage Committee 2023 – 2027, and the Intergovernmental Committee of the UNESCO 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention for the 2022 – 2026 term.

Furthermore, Vietnam is the Vice Chair of the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Expression Diversity for the 2021 – 2025 duration and one of the 31 Vice Presidents of the UNESCO General Conference from 2023.

In addition to these achievements, Vietnam has expanded its UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) with the recognition of Hoi An, an ancient city in the central province of Quang Nam, for its craft and folk arts, and Da Lat, the largest city in the Central Highlands region, for its music.

Moreover, the UNESCO General Conference at its 42nd session in Paris last November included the progenitor of Vietnamese traditional medicine, Hai Thuong Lan Ong Le Huu Trac (1724 – 1791), in the list of eminent personalities and historical events commemorated in 2023 – 2024.

According to the UNESCO representative, these achievements demonstrate Vietnam’s active participation in all mechanisms of UNESCO and its ability to prepare high-quality dossiers that showcase the nation’s enormous potential and valuable experiences. He also emphasized the international community’s trust and high expectations for Vietnam’s contributions, as evidenced by the country’s election to the World Heritage Committee while already serving in many other convention mechanisms.

The UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, during her official visit to Vietnam and meeting with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, suggested that Vietnam consider hosting international committee meetings. By doing so, Vietnam can demonstrate the practical results of the UNESCO Conventions in the national context, which would be highly appreciated by all member states and international delegates.

Vietnam has been a pioneer member state in initiating forums on UNESCO designations and sustainable development. The Vietnamese government, together with various local partners, places great importance on ensuring sustainability in all programmes and actions. This long-term vision guides immediate plans and seeks to foster creativity, mobilize cultural and social capitals, and promote the young talents and creative businesses, all while preserving valuable heritage and natural assets.

Cultural and creative industries play a pivotal role in Vietnam’s cultural industry development. These industries are not only conduits of economic growth but also key to holistic models of sustainable development. They contribute to economic, environmental, cultural, and social sustainability.

Hanoi, known for its rich cultural resources, including thousands of heritage sites, traditional craft villages, and an emerging community of designers and innovators, has become one of the country’s pioneers in developing cultural industry policies. Similarly, Hoi An, a UNESCO-designated site, effectively balances cultural preservation with economic prosperity. Through traditional crafts and culinary treasures, the town taps into the creative economy, engaging both local communities and tourists. Hoi An’s architectural treasures, combined with cultural experiences, attract tourists and generate revenue. This demonstrates the potential of cultural industries not only to invigorate local economies but also to safeguard heritage.

To further capitalize on the potential of culture, Vietnam should emphasize cohesive strategies and policies. The UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda suggests several measures for developing cultural industries and enhancing their contribution to the nation’s economy. These include integrating culture into governance, promoting culture and creative industries as powerful economic sub-sectors, prioritizing environmental sustainability, and ensuring the involvement of local communities for intercultural dialogue and knowledge transfer.

An important aspect is that policies and incentives should be locally aware and based on the specific context of Vietnam and each region working on cultural industries, in order to maximize synergies and progress. With these approaches, Vietnam can continue its successful journey in the field of cultural industry development.