The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a creative economy white paper and policy initiative on 4 June 2004. As with other United Nations Agencies, UNCTAD clearly recognised the potential of supporting the creative industries in developing countries. “With effective nurturing,” states the report, “…creativity can open up new opportunities for developing countries to increase their shares of world trade and to “leap-frog” into new areas of wealth creation.”
In a series of recommendations presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations it clearly calls for the recognition of the specific nature of the creative economy. It advises a “more strategic kind of thinking from policy makers,” to recognise the “intangible assets, licensing processes, entrepreneurial and management principles, forms of regulation and significant reliance on intellectual property,” of the creative sector and creative economy.
Based on successes in the United Kingdom, the UNCTAD recommendations emphasise the need to take the “concept of creativity a long way from its common association with activities having a strong artistic component, to any activity producing symbolic products with a heavy reliance on intellectual property and for as wide a market as possible.” With a view to supporting developing countries in reaching new markets the report highlights domestic policy weaknesses as significant barriers to entry for developing countries.
The policy recommendations of UNCTAD are also matched with a new initiative to launch an International Observatory on Creative Industries (IOCID). This new institution, proposed to be based in Brazil would “provide creative industry policy makers and entrepreneurs,” with important “up-to-date information – statistics, analyses and policies.”
UNCTAD, by matching policy recommendations with an international observatory on the creative industries, hopes to foster public-private partnerships, sharing of best practices and provide a sound basis for policy decision making in countries seeking to expand their participation in the creative economy. (Appendix 20)