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G20 Culture Working Group:
Terms of Reference

Annexed to the Outcome Document and Chair's Summary: Kashi Culture Pathway
of the G20 Culture Ministers' Meeting held in Varanasi on 26 August 2023

August 26, 2023


Culture is increasingly recognized as a critical paradigm of the international agenda, for its intrinsic value, for its direct and indirect contribution to economic growth and social wellbeing and for its crucial role in sustainable development more broadly.

The upward trajectory of culture in the G20 agenda equally reflects such momentum. In 2020, the first meeting of the Ministers of Culture in G20 history was organized by the Saudi Presidency on the margins of the G20. In 2021, the Italian Presidency of the G20 incorporated Culture as a Working Group in the G20 Agenda and hosted the first G20 Culture Ministerial Meeting, leading to the Rome Declaration recognizing culture's transformative role in sustainable development. In 2022, the second G20 Culture ministerial meeting was organized under the Indonesian Presidency and the Bali Leaders' Declaration further reaffirmed culture's agency in enabling sustainable development and sustaining livelihoods. In 2023, the Indian Presidency further consolidated the Culture Working Group and hosted the third G20 Culture Ministerial Meeting.

The discussion on culture within the G20 framework considers the multifaceted benefits of culture, cultural heritage and the creative sectors on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development and raises awareness of their value for current and future generations. Furthermore, it considers culture as a crucial driver for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, including through technological advancement and digitalisation.

This vision, which puts forward the cross-cutting contribution of culture, cultural heritage and the creative sectors to the action of the G20, and their economic, social and environmental impacts, emphasizes culture's role in advancing G20 mission and goals. Culture fits well within the agenda of the G20, in particular for post-pandemic recovery as well as for tackling contemporary social, economic and environmental challenges more broadly.

The Ministers of Culture of the G20 have decided to establish Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Culture Working Group (CWG) with the aim of defining the general purpose and structure of the CWG and ensuring the effectiveness and consistency of its work across the successive presidencies, thereby strengthening the foundation for a robust and sustainable CWG within the G20. The CWG ToR will also put forward connections and synergies between culture and other G20 policy areas – such as trade, employment, tourism, education health, environment or digital – to maximise culture's development potential.


The G20 Culture Working Group (CWG) focuses on building a structured and inclusive dialogue across the Membership and fostering common action to protect, promote and safeguard culture and cultural heritage for a sustainable future, – including working towards reducing North-South disparities by reaffirming the inclusive value of culture to unite – with a view to advance culture-related priorities which are relevant to the overall G20 mandate as defined by the incumbent Presidency (see annex I on the thematic priorities of the G20 Culture Working Group since its creation).

The CWG will work towards harnessing knowledge building around the priorities under each Presidency, reviewing progress of the priorities of previous presidencies, while ensuring an inclusive dialogue across the Membership, and consider strengthening synergies between the G20 Culture Workstream and other relevant G20 Workstreams.

The CWG will work towards sharing best practices and exchange of information, as relevant, in addressing issues pertaining to the culture sector.

The Working Group will continue to promote coordinated action across G20 members to build, with the support of UNESCO, the OECD and other international organisations, as relevant, a strong evidence base on the economic footprint of the sector and its contribution to economies and societies, so as to inform policy action at international, national and local levels.

Functioning of the Culture Working Group

The CWG is chaired on a 'troika' Presidency basis led by the incumbent, supported by the previous and the following year's G20 Presidencies. The secretariat support for the CWG is provided by the incumbent G20 Presidency.

In the decisions of the CWG, a consensus-based approach shall be applied. The CWG may also seek collaboration with other G20 working groups in areas of joint interest.

In addition, expert-driven workshops or webinars may be organized across the Sherpa Track, as deemed relevant by the incumbent Presidency, with a view to informing the reflection of the CWG Membership around the proposed priority areas. While allowing an open and inclusive dialogue across a diversity of constituencies, these workshops and/or webinars may also inform the formulation of action-oriented outcomes of the CWG, as relevant, and support knowledge building more broadly across respective presidencies. The purpose and implementation modalities of such webinars – including the preparation of background documents and final reports – shall be decided upon by the incumbent G20 Presidency.

Besides, informal G20 Culture networks may be launched under each Presidency to engage civil society organisations and professionals on G20 issues in a mid/long term perspective, so as to nurture the G20 CWG's reflection. Participation to the G20 Culture networks is on a voluntary basis.

Annual and Multi-Year Agenda of the CWG

The annual agenda of the CWG will be developed by the incumbent G20 Presidency in accordance with the mandate of the CWG, the Leaders' Communiqué and the Culture Ministers' Declaration, in collaboration with G20 members and in consultation with invited international organisations and social partners. The G20 Presidency may focus on other additional issues that are of specific relevance to culture.

The priorities and planned outcomes of the incumbent G20 Presidency, as well as the dates, venues, deliverables and work themes of planned CWG activities shall be discussed and shared with the Membership at the beginning of each Presidency term.

Every year, the incumbent presidency may share with Member States a summary of the work carried out over the past year by each G20 Culture network.

Given the importance of continuity regarding the work carried out under consecutive G20 Presidencies, and with a view to promote an effective, action-oriented workstream, the CWG will work under a multi-year agenda that is guided by its mandate. The multi-year agenda in the form of a roadmap will be developed by the CWG members, can be reviewed annually and renewed when deemed necessary.

At the first meeting under each incumbent Presidency, the Membership may devote one session to discuss progress on the roadmap to foster continuity, consolidation and relevance of the Culture Workstream. In the same vein, CWG Members may seek to ensure continuous exchange across the workstream, under the leadership of the incumbent Presidency, with a view to enhance commitment and concerted action.


Participation in the CWG is open to representatives and experts from G20 members and guest countries, under the guidance of the incumbent G20 Presidency.

Collaboration with International Organisations and Social Partners

The CWG will work in cooperation with the official G20 engagement groups as appropriate and according to the arrangements to be decided by the CWG, as well as with relevant groups in member states.

In view of the recent establishment of the culture workstream, technical assistance may be needed to support a robust, knowledge-based process. Given its mandate and expertise in the field of culture, UNESCO may be well placed to support the incumbent Presidency, as deemed necessary.

The CWG may also invite representatives of other relevant international organisations, in particular FAO, ICCROM, ICOM, IC OMOS, ILO, INTERPOL, IUCN, OECD, UNCTAD, UNIDROIT, UNODC, WIPO, WCO among others, to participate in CWG meetings and ask them to provide technical contributions on issues identified in its agenda.

Subgroups and Task Forces

If specific expertise is required in the implementation of CWG's, time-limited and voluntary based technical sub-groups and task forces may be established, under the impulse of the incumbent Presidency and with the consensus of G20 members, with the goal of supporting the G20 agenda and of further advancing its mandate in specific areas. The mandate, work plan, composition and co-facilitators of those sub-groups are decided by the G20 members.


These Terms of Reference may be reviewed at the request of the CWG members on an annual basis. Should any amendments be deemed necessary, they may be duly incorporated to this document with the consensus of the CWG members.


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Annex I – Priorities of the G20 culture workstream under successive G20 presidencies

G20 Year Priorities set forth by the incumbent Presidency to Presidency frame the G20 culture workstream

G20 Presidency Year Priorities set forth by the incumbent Presidency to frame the G20 culture workstream
Saudi Arabia 2000 The rise of the cultural economy: a new paradigm
  1. Changing perspectives on the economics of culture
  2. Bridging culture and education to build back better
  3. Harnessing the opportunities of the digital transformation in the culture sector
  4. Shifting the cultural policy paradigm towards strengthened synergies across public policies
Italy 2021
  1. Culture and creative sectors as drivers for regeneration and sustainable and balanced growth
  2. Protectionofculturalheritageandillicittrafficking
  3. Addressing climate change through culture
  4. Building capacity through training and education
  5. Digital transition and new technologies for culture
Indonesia 2022

Culture for Sustainable Living

  1. Culture as an enabler and driver for sustainable development
  2. Harnessing the economic, social and environmental benefits of culture-based policies
  3. Safeguarding culture as a common concern and strengthening the fight against illicit trafficking
  4. Ensuring access to the cultural products and the benefits of cultural economy
    Supporting international resource mobilization to mainstream sustainable recovery of culture
India 2023
  1. Protection and restitution of cultural property.
  2. Harnessing living heritage for a sustainable future.
  3. Promotion of cultural and creative industries and creative economy.
  4. Leveraging digital technologies for the promotion and protection of culture.

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Source: Official website of India's 2023 G20 Presidency

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