Cultural Sustainability EXPLAINED

Cultural sustainability is an important issue that often gets overlooked. It refers to the idea of preserving and sustaining traditional cultures in the face of globalization and modernization.

Key Takeaways

  • Cultural sustainability preserves traditions and identities amidst modernization.
  • Emphasizes protecting both tangible and intangible cultural elements.
  • Supports social cohesion, economic benefits, and sustainable development goals.
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What is Cultural Sustainability?

Cultural Sustainability is the idea of protecting and sustaining the world’s cultural heritage. It is about ensuring that future generations can enjoy the same cultural experiences and traditions that we enjoy today.

However, cultural sustainability is about more than just preserving our heritage. It’s about ensuring that future generations can enjoy and learn from the different cultures around the world. From traditional knowledge and indigenous perspectives to language and the arts. Cultural sustainability is about keeping the world’s cultures alive and thriving.

Cultural Sustainability can be Material and Immaterial

As outlined by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), there are two categories of cultural sustainability: material and immaterial.

Material cultural sustainability pertains to the physical aspects of culture, such as buildings, artifacts, and heritage sites. It also includes the maintenance and preservation of these things.

Cultural resources include, but are not limited to, archaeological sites, buildings, landscapes, objects, collections, shipwrecks, and documents. They are an important part of our identity and contribute to our sense of place. Those items can also provide economic benefits through sustainable tourism, and other activities.

Immaterial cultural sustainability, on the other hand, focuses on the non-physical aspects of culture, such as language, knowledge, and traditions. It also includes the transmission of these things from one generation to the next.

Both material and immaterial cultural sustainability are important in order to maintain the integrity of culture and achieve sustainable development.

The Importance of Cultural Sustainability

Cultural sustainability is important for many reasons, including:

  • It helps to preserve the world’s cultural heritage and diversity. This is important not only for those who value the traditions and histories of different cultures but also for those who rely on them for their livelihoods.
  • Cultural sustainability helps to ensure that future generations can enjoy and learn from the world’s traditions. This is especially important in a globalized world, where people are increasingly coming into contact with cultures that are different from their own.
  • Cultural sustainability is important for the health and well-being of the planet. By preserving the world’s cultures, we can help to protect the planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Cultural sustainability is an important component of the social principle, one of the 3 pillars of sustainability. This is so important that some advocates are also proposing a model with 4 pillars, where cultural sustainability is the fourth pillar. However, a more popular 4 pillars framework is using a key human principle as the fourth pillar. This emphasizes the human component necessary to reach sustainable development.

The eventual loss of cultural heritage can have a significant social and emotional impact on a community. It can lead to the loss of social cohesion and a sense of identity.

Preserving the different cultures can also help to boost sustainable tourism and create new job opportunities. And it can help to ensure that the planet’s natural resources are managed in a sustainable way.

The Importance of Cultural Sustainability for the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals that were adopted by the United Nations. The SDGs are a blueprint for a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.

Cultural sustainability is essential for the achievement of the SDGs. Culture is a driver of sustainable development and can help to achieve these goals. It is a source of creativity, innovation, and social cohesion. It can also help to build resilient communities.

The SDGs provide an opportunity to make cultural sustainability a priority in all areas of development. This means that culture must be given due consideration in all policies and programs related to sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the importance of culture in sustainable development. Goal 11 of the SDGs, which calls for cities and human settlements that are inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, specifically mentions the need to “integrate culture into urban and regional planning”.

Elements of Cultural Sustainability

There are many elements that contribute to cultural sustainability. One of the most important is the preservation and protection of traditional knowledge and wisdom.

This includes the knowledge and perspectives of indigenous peoples, as well as the traditional knowledge passed down through generations.

Another key element is the promotion and use of indigenous languages. This helps to ensure that the world’s cultures can be communicated and shared with future generations.

The arts are also an important part of cultural sustainability, as they provide a way for people to express their cultural identity.

1. What Is Part Of a Culture

Culture consists in the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, and arts.

2. Preserving Cultural Identity

There are many factors that contribute to the sustainability of a culture. One of the most important is the willingness of its people to keep traditions alive. This can be done through things like language classes, cultural festivals and events, and educational programs.

One way is to pass on knowledge and skills through intergenerational learning. This can be done within the family, or within community groups. Another way is to document and record cultural heritage. This can be done through oral histories, photographic records, or by creating digital archives.

Another important factor is the support of the government and other institutions. This can come in the form of financial assistance, laws, and regulations that protect cultural heritage, and policies that encourage the use of traditional knowledge and practices.

Cultural sustainability is a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every culture is different and faces its own unique challenges. However, by working together and supporting each other, we can all help to preserve the world’s many cultures for future generations.

It is important to remember that culture is always changing and evolving. Sustainability is not about trying to keep things exactly the same, but about finding ways to maintain the essence of a culture while allowing it to adapt and grow.

3. Promoting Culture

There are many ways to promote cultural sustainability:

  • Support the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which works to protect and promote the world’s cultural heritage.
  • Support local initiatives that promote traditional knowledge and practices. And finally, we can all help to promote cultural sustainability by valuing and respecting the cultural heritage of others.
  • Invest in cultural heritage related tourism or geotourism. This type of tourism is based on visits to places that have cultural or historical significance. It can include visits to ancient ruins, museums, and art galleries.
  • It is possible to promote culture by investing in traditional arts. This can include things like supporting local artists, funding art education, and providing incentives for businesses to invest in the arts.

Cultural sustainability is about finding a balance between protecting culture and promoting economic growth. It is about finding ways to value both culture and heritage while still allowing for progress.

4. Adapting to Cultural changes

Culture is always changing and evolving. In order to ensure the survival of any culture, it is important to be adaptable and open to change.

One of the best ways to ensure the sustainability of a culture is to promote cultural exchange and understanding. By engaging with other cultures, we can learn about new ways of thinking and living, and incorporate these into our own culture. This helps to keep our culture relevant and alive, and ensures that it can continue to thrive into the future.

Challenges to Achieving Cultural Sustainability

Achieving cultural sustainability is not always easy. One of the challenges is that it can be difficult to define what exactly needs to be preserved. For example, is it more important to focus on protecting traditions, or on ensuring that members of a cultural group have the opportunity to freely express their identity?

Another challenge is funding. Preserving and promoting a culture often requires financial resources, which can be difficult to obtain. Additionally, those who are working to achieve cultural sustainability may not have the same level of financial resources as those who are working to protect the environment or promote social justice.

Finally, it can be difficult to achieve cultural sustainability if it is not seen as relevant to people’s lives.

Strategies for Achieving Cultural Sustainability

There are many ways to achieve cultural sustainability, but some key strategies include:

  • Educating people about the importance of cultural sustainability and why it matters.
  • Working with communities to develop plans and programs that preserve and protect their cultures.
  • Supporting and funding organizations and initiatives that promote cultural sustainability.
  • Advocating for policies and regulations that promote cultural sustainability.
  • Raising awareness of the issue of cultural sustainability through the media and other channels.


Cultural sustainability is the idea of preserving and maintaining a culture through time.

This can be done through traditional means, such as keeping alive language and customs, or through more modern methods, such as using technology to document and share a culture with others.

Regardless of the approach, through cultural sustainability, we can keep our traditions alive, communities strong, and be a step closer to achieving sustainable development!