After concluding my PhD on intercultural dialogue between Muslim and Western countries (with a focus on the foreign cultural policies of Iran and Germany), I experienced one of the most attractive career opportunities of my life. Specifically, I started to work as a researcher (at the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute) and a teacher (at the School of Politics and International Relations, Qauid-i-Azam University) in the fields of development and international relations in Pakistan. Development as a discipline brought new light to my understanding about culture. I learned about the significance of “sustainable” development and its 17 goals (SDGs). In terms of a definition, I learned that it means development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, often called the Brundtland Report). Sustainable development thus requires change through culture. That piqued my curiosity as to why despite all attempts of the UN state members and international organizations like the World Bank still culture, which must be taken as a driving engine of integration of nations to serious change, is neglected and has not yet gotten the attention it deserves. Culture, even rhetorically, is just not a part of the SDGs’ list. Yet it needs to be.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.