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Jérôme Gouadain, Secretary General of Diversum

Cultures With
September 16, 2013
Cultural diversity as a driving force for the economy: this is the core idea of the “purple economy”, a sustainable development paradigm advocated by the French association Diversum. Here is the testimony of the association’s Secretary General, upon the release of a report aimed at better defining this economy colored with creativity.
Diversum is an independent French not-for-profit association, created in 2006, that brings together key figures from the world of economy and culture for the purpose of reflecting on the cultural dimension of globalization.

Diversum has developed a number of concepts that contribute to a better understanding of the world.

Chief among them is the notion of “cultural footprint”, which reflects the impact that groups and individuals exercise on culture perceived as an ecosystem. Humanity is enveloped in a cultural environment in the same way that it is integrated into natural and social environments.

Several attempts to measure the cultural footprint of businesses have already been undertaken using a specific rating system implemented by Diversum in 2009. Tools of this type allow organizations to include the cultural dimension as a key sustainable development issue.

In parallel, Diversum has been working since 2010 on putting the concept of the “purple economy” into practice. This term was coined in response to the need to incorporate a cultural dimension into economic issues to a far greater extent than is the case today.

The goal is to move towards a culturalized economy.

To summarize the analysis developed by the first working group on the purple economy (the analysis is detailed in the report “The purple economy: an objective, an opportunity” released in June 2013) to which UNESCO and the OECD, among others, contributed, this culturalization of the economy is currently taking place in conjunction with two fundamental trends.

First of all, there is a culturalization dictated by geography, inasmuch as “the emergence of a multicultural and polycentric world is replacing diversity of cultures as the primary concern of businesses.”

There is also a second movement (seen particularly in advanced economies), which calls into question economies based solely on quantitative goals in favour of a quality-based economy. But in the post-industrial age, this quality-based economy depends in large measure for enrichment on the inclusion of culturally related factors.

So we see why the purple economy depends on cultural diversity as the driving force of the economy. This growth engine is all the more virtuous in that it opens up development prospects on a largely immaterial basis. It therefore offers a growth response in the face of the dual challenge posed by demographics and ecology.

Diversum is currently engaged in reflection on the purple economy through the implementation of various working groups tied to such business sectors as food, housing and the digital economy or focused on such overarching issues as the measurement of the cultural footprint, an observatory of purple professions and so on.

The realization of an economy based on cultural diversity presupposes constant dialogue between cultures. That is why, in addition to working closely with international organizations, Diversum decided to establish a Forum that would meet on a regular basis in a large cultural region.

After its inaugural meeting in Paris in 2011, the 2nd International Purple Economy Forum will meet in December 2013 in Abu Dhabi to explore the theme “Cultural Challenges of the Globalized Economy”.


More information

The report “The purple economy: an objective, an opportunity”, published in June 2013, is the outcome of the first inter-institutional working group on the purple economy that met in Paris in 2012 and 2013 at the initiative of Diversum and UNESCO. The goals of the report are “to come up with a better definition of the purple economy”, “to establish an initial map of the types of professions concerned” and to consider possible indicators to measure individuals’ and groups’ “cultural footprint”.


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