GERM, in collaboration with OPC Grenoble and the Rhone Alps Region (France), is organising an Interregional Conference on "Regions and Cultural Diversity: European and Global Dynamics", at Lyons' Cité des Congrès, on September 28th and 29th, 2006. This conference aims at helping implementing the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (adopted by UNESCO in October, 2005), as well as contributing to the transdisciplinary and transnational debate on it.
From the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2nd November 2001) to the International Convention approved by its General Conference in October 2005, the issue of the protection and promotion of cultural diversity in the context of current globalisations gives rise to an extremely animated European and international debate. In fact, if threats on pluralism and growing cultural "homogenisation" can be noticed, cultural identity and difference, far from being just "destroyed by globalisation", persist and are revived. Moreover, while European Union members question the limits of an integration that has so far been based mainly on economy and currency, the idea of a common construction boosted by the potential for political stimulation of cultural cooperation is emerging.
First of all, the general expansion of "regionalisation" processes, carried out at different levels and through different modes, must be emphasized. On the one hand, many countries choose to give priority to exchanges developed within the framework of regional agreements, despite the ever-growing globalisation of financial and commercial exchange. On the other hand, regional (in the normative sense of the word) communities have become aware of the importance of their role and dynamism in international competition and regional construction (especially that of the European Union). Still, the interpretations of this multifaceted regionalisation movement diverge, some of them referring to it as a paradoxical consequence of economic globalisation, some of them rather as a form of withdrawal.
In this context, marked by the complexification and the intertwining of the different frameworks of political action, which role can interregional cooperation play — and especially the one that aims at promoting cultural diversity — in favour of regions themselves as well as regional construction and integration?
The dynamic rapprochement of regions, undertaken with the will to place the cultural issue at the core of their common concerns, and with the intention to put an original sharing of culture into practice, allows us to imagine the elaboration of promising interregional cooperation models likely to re-launch the European construction. It would also contribute to give substance to the European Union ideal defined by the "United in diversity" motto and to the quest of a form of governance that would be cultural, social, economic and political at the same time.
In order to define a new strategy for interregional cooperation through culture, to evaluate its foundations, stakes, objectives and potential, the Rhône-Alpes Region, holding the presidency of the "Four Motors for Europe" in 2006, wishes – in partnership with the Group for Study and Research on Globalisations, and the Observatory for Cultural Policies - to bring together researchers, artists, culture professionals, social, economic and political actors, as well as civil society representatives on the occasion of the "Interregional Conference".