"Values, beliefs, convictions, languages, knowledge and the arts, traditions, institutions and ways of life through which a person or a group expresses their humanity and the meaning they give to their existence and to their development!" Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Rights [Article 2, a], also used as a key definition by the CoE- Compendium
What is cultural diversity?
The Council of Europe defines cultural diversity as an essential condition for human society, brought about by cross-border migration, the claim of national and other minorities for a distinct cultural identity, the cultural effects of globalisation, the growing interdependence between all world regions, and the advances of information and communication media. Cultural diversity can be achieved by means of intercultural dialogue, which enables us to live together peacefully and constructively in a multicultural world and to develop a sense of community and belonging.
On December 18th, 2006, the European Union ratified the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity wherein cultural diversity is referred to as the manifold ways of expression of different cultures, groups and societies. It is also defined as a setting for continuous, unifying dialogue between all expressions of identity.
The European Union's motto “United in Diversity” demonstrates its support of a policy of cultural diversity. According to the European Commission, “The motto “United in Diversity” means that, via the European Union, Europeans are united in working together for peace and prosperity, and that the many different cultures, traditions and languages in Europe are a positive asset for the continent.”
Why does cultural diversity matter?
Cultural diversity - as a source of innovation, creativity and exchange - is the key to a mutually enriching future for humankind. By analogy with biodiversity, which is thought to be essential for the long-term survival of life on earth, it can be argued that cultural diversity is vital for the long-term survival of humanity. The General Conference of the UNESCO asserted in the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity that, "… cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature".
In this context, cultural diversity is usually considered a precondition for the sustainable development of a society.
People from different races, nationalities and cultures have different life experiences which flavor their interpretation of events. If they are valued and integrated into the group dynamics, these different experiences can strengthen the group. However, this can take time, intent and the willingness to be open-minded and non-judgmental regarding the value these differences can bring. Usually, cultural diversity and multiculturalism are used as synonyms, but in some contexts those two terms are interpreted differently.
Multiculturalism is a diverse set of normative ideals and policy programmes that promote (in different ways and by different means) the incorporation and participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities in state and society, taking into account their ethnic and religious differences.