Small island developing States have a rich and diverse culture and heritage that can be a significant asset to sustainable development. The MSI identifies cultural industries and initiatives, once developed, as a significant economic opportunity for national and regional development. This in turn, is also a way of diversifying SIDS’ economies, and a means of building resilience, particularly to external shocks. SIDS are encouraged to develop and implement national cultural policies and legislative frameworks; develop measures to protect the natural, tangible and intangible cultural heritage; increase resources for the development and strengthening of national and regional cultural initiatives; improve institutional capacity for advocacy and marketing of cultural products; and increase community participation in decision-making.

The cultural sector industry is currently at 7% of the GDP in SIDS (compared to 3-6% in developed countries) and is estimated to grow year by year due to techno-

economic changes; increased commercialisation; the post-industrial economy; cross-promotional linkages; and media convergence. Cultural and heritage tourism promote sustainable tourism by relying on the renewable human resources of SIDS. The basic principles and specific actions that are required at the national, regional and international levels to support sustainable development in small island developing States in the area of culture are outlined in Chapter 19 of the MSI. Culture is also highlighted within the BPoA under Tourism Resources (Chapter 8).

Nineteen SIDS have ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thirty eight SIDS are parties to the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention. Eight SIDS have ratified and one has accepted the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.