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Culture and Creativity

Main actors on cultural heritage: international organisations

Several international organisations work to protect, safeguard and promote cultural heritage.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the European Union are close partners. Both share values and work in close cooperation to achieve common objectives. The Memorandum of Understanding [pdf] adopted in 2012 governs their cooperation.

The mission of UNESCO is embodied in its Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted in 1972: [UNESCO]

“seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.”

UNESCO compiles the World Heritage Sites, which are places recognised as having a unique cultural and/or natural significance.

It is also a key actor in promoting and protecting cultural heritage, implementing joint projects with the EU.

EU-UNESCO joint projects

UNESCO and the European Commission developed several projects of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. In the same way, the European Commission in partnership with UNESCO implements many actions included in the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage, such as

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) is the continent’s leading human rights organisation with 47 Member States, 27 of which are members of the European Union. Based on their shared values of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the CoE has a long tradition of cooperation with the EU.

Read more in the CoE-EU 2007 Memorandum of Understanding.

Find out more on EU–CoE cooperation.

The Council of Europe works on promoting diversity and dialogue in the field of cultural heritage, in order to increase a sense of identity, collective memory and mutual understanding within and among communities.

Its work with the EU in this field includes

Visit the Council of Europe website dedicated to cultural heritage.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) promotes better policies to increase prosperity and equality.

Under the actions of the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage, it works with the European Commission through joint projects to maximise the impact of culture and cultural heritage for local development.

EU-OECD joint project: Cultural and Creative Sectors and Local Development

The goal of this project is to assist regions with providing evidence and guidance on the economic and social value of cultural heritage. The project also supports the emergence of the creative economy in these regions. These are taking part in a number of peer-learning actions, workshops and studies carried out as part of the OECD Local Economic and Employment Development Programme (LEED).