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Creative Economy Report (UNCTAD, 2008)

The so called "Creative economy (1)" is an evolving concept based on the potential of "creative assets" to generate socio-economic growth and development, in a globalized world increasingly dominated by images, sounds, texts and symbols.

At the heart of the creative economy lie the creative industries. Loosely defined, the creative industries are at the crossroads of arts, culture, business and technology and use intellectual capital as their primary input. Today´s creative industries range from folk art, festivals, music, books, newspapers, paintings, sculptures and performing arts to more technology-intensive subsectors such as the film industry, TV and radio broadcasting, digital animation and video games, and more service-oriented fields such as architectural and advertising services.

The Creative Economy Report 2008 (2)- The challenge of assessing the creative economy towards informed policy-making is the first comprehensive study to present the United Nations perspective on this emerging topic. This policy-oriented analysis is intended to facilitate a better understanding of the key issues underlying the emerging creative economy at national and international levels. It brings together contributions from five United Nations organizations, namely UNCTAD, UNDP UNESCO, WIPO and the International Trade Centre (ITC), in a joint endeavour to enhance policy coherence and international action in this area.

The present Report adopts the UNCTAD definition of the “creative economy”, which can be summarized as follows:

  • The creative economy is an evolving concept based on creative assets potentially generating economic growth and development;

  • It can foster income generation, job creation and export earnings while promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development;

  • It embraces economic, cultural and social aspects interacting with technology, intellectual property and tourism objectives;

  • It is a set of knowledge-based economic activities with a development dimension and cross-cutting linkages at macro and micro levels to the overall economy;

  • It is a feasible development option calling for innovative multidisciplinary policy responses and interministerial action;

  • At the heart of the creative economy are the creative industries.

The development dimension is the guiding principle of this Report which aims to assist developing countries to harness their creative economies and to maximize trade and development gains by recognizing the creative economy as a feasible development option for linking economic, technological, social and cultural development objectives of our contemporary society.

It does this by:

  • Discussing concepts, methodologies and the structure of the creative economy

  • Sharing evidence-based analysis confirming that the creative industries constitute a new dynamic sector in international trade

  • Suggesting directions for policy strategies

The statistical annex presents first-hand trade data and pioneering analysis of international trade flows of creative goods and services in world markets.

The 350-pages Report recognizes that creativity and human talent are fast becoming powerful engines for economic growth and development, and calls for the adoption of effective cross-cutting mechanisms and concerted inter-ministerial policy action.

Developing countries around the world can find ways to optimize the potential of the creative economy for generating economic growth, job creation and export earnings while at the same time promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.

  1. The creative economy was first referenced as an independent discipline within economics in the 1960s. In 2001, John Howkins brought the term to life in his book, “The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas.” The creative economy positions itself at the intersection of economics (contributing to GDP), innovation (fostering growth and competition in traditional activities), social value (stimulating knowledge and talent), and sustainability (relying on the unlimited input of creativity and intellectual capital).

  2. The Creative Economy Report 2008 is the first study to present the United Nations perspective on this emerging topic. It is an initiative of the partnership between UNCTAD and the UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation. Furthermore, it is a pioneer example of the work being undertaken by the Multi-Agency Informal Dialogue Group on Creative Industries.1 It brings together contributions from five relevant United Nations bodies: UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, WIPO and ITC. This collective effort not only contributes to building synergy and exploring complementarities but also is an effective way to advance policy coherence and enhance the impact of international actions in the area of the creative economy and creative industries.



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