“Our countries are repositories of enormous cultural heritage; reflects itself of the historical events that have characterized them. They form the basis for avoiding distortions of the values on which our European civilization has grown. Culture is a capital on which our community is grafted. It is a capital that allows us to illuminate our path. It is a capital that allows us to anchor our identities. “This was emphasized by President Sergio Mattarella, who spoke in Braga, Portugal, on the occasion of the Cotec meeting, a forum for dialogue uniting Italy, Spain and Portugal.
“With the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, Italy has decided to allocate huge resources to the cultural sector – it is over 7 billion euros – including measures for digitization, innovation and competitiveness, together with the regeneration of small villages with initiatives to improve and restore the artistic and architectural inheritance”.
Mr President of the Republic,
Presidents of COTEC Foundations in Portugal, Spain and Italy,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank President Rebelo de Sousa for welcoming us to this beautiful city.
Your kind invitation allows a few months after our last meeting in Malaga – for which I once again thank His Majesty Felipe VI – to continue the precious exchanges of views on topics of great interest to the future of our countries.
The international context in which our discussion takes place has changed profoundly, and we can certainly not ignore in our deliberations the unwarranted aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
The destruction of places in the heart of Europe, the ruined lives, the attack on a country’s freedom and independence, we thought they belonged to a distant past.
We stand by the plots of the Ukrainian people, and although the fate of Europe is at stake, it seems more necessary than ever to have the courage to look to the future and imagine how culture can be a means to peace.
For our countries, therefore, the theme chosen for this year’s meeting could not have been more stimulating.
In fact, we have always regarded culture as an engine of growth, research and development.
I believe that it is impossible to reflect on the future of humanity without considering it as connected to the world of innovation and technology.
A future where technology and innovation are not only at the service of increasingly destructive weapon systems, but are geared towards the progress of humanity.
Innovation and technology are two elements that powerfully govern this phase of our lives, and I believe that, if properly managed, they can act as multipliers of knowledge and as a driving force for growth.
Contemporary culture is strongly encouraged by topics such as digitization and artificial intelligence. If this is true for applications intended for each of us, it now also applies to applications intended for the arts, and there can be nothing surprising in that.
Our countries are repositories of enormous cultural heritage; reflects itself of the historical events that have characterized them.
They form the basis for avoiding distortions of the values on which our European civilization has grown.
Culture is a capital on which our community is grafted. It is a capital that allows us to illuminate our path, to be aware of it. And it allows us to anchor our identities.
Like all capitals, culture must also be put to good use in the various dimensions that characterize it.
Hence also the encounter with innovation that has enabled gigantic steps from all points of view: from discovery and conservation, to the improvement of existing assets, to their use, escaping the limitations of accessibility to places and the normal capacity of perception thanks to augmented reality. Thanks to the creativity it supports, with the creation of new installations and forms of art, including digital, even virtual.
It is an important phase; which significantly affects cultural supply chains and projects, above all towards the creativity of the future linked to current new opportunities.
Creativity and innovation, as you know, feed lines that are not only virtual or services, but also organically connected with production chains of goods. Think for a moment about design or fashion products.
The osmosis between different worlds and sectors is certainly not a hallmark of today: just look at the Italian Renaissance or the lively cultural life between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, before the tragedy of the two world wars. How these periods have changed the way of living, educating, living, producing.
Experience shows that the connection between creativity and value creation enriches both a people’s moral identity and its general well-being.
But – today – the context is changing.
From yesterday’s “technical” tools, innovation and technology now find themselves in defining parallel worlds, in virtual and cybernetic domains, with a revolution in the logics and hierarchies that have traditionally governed this space.
The intertwining with areas that have increased their importance over time is flourishing. Like education and training, tourism, health, wellness. And environmental sustainability.
In the same response to the pandemic, innovative models for cultural and educational performance have emerged, towards an integration of knowledge.
The final report from the Network of European Museums Organizations (NEMO), prepared during the first phase of Covid, highlights that 93% of museums have increased digitization processes, intensified online activities and learned from the conditions imposed by the pandemic.
This symposium, together with our previous meetings, represents a valuable opportunity to reflect on how to bring together the different expressions and experiences in our society.
The application of innovation and technology makes it possible in complex areas such as in our countries to overcome the very notion of center and periphery, metropolitan areas with an intense quality of modernity and development and internal or rural areas destined for marginalization.
In the global digital society, there are no “secluded” places. It’s a great opportunity.
On the occasion of my visit, in October 2019 in San Francisco, the Italian Republic decided to open its first integrated center for innovation and culture in California.
A space that precisely responds to the idea that culture and innovation must be seen as synergy and create progress.
Just think that in Italy, the cultural industry as a whole, despite the pandemic, represented 84 billion and 600 million euros by 2020.
The European Union seems to be aware of the link between innovation and culture, with initiatives such as New European Bauhaus.
This is a recent proposal from the Commission, which aims to link culture, technology, innovation, art and science through innovative and interdisciplinary solutions.
We need to invest in this direction and we need to do it today.
With the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, Italy has decided to allocate significant resources to the cultural sector – that is over 7 billion euros – including measures for digitization, innovation and competitiveness, together with the regeneration of small villages with initiatives to improve and restore the artistic and architectural inheritance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my growing conviction that there is a need to accelerate the achievement of “European sovereignty”, also in the field of technology.
The pandemic crisis and the crisis caused by the war tell us how basic cooperation is.
Our ability to compete and guarantee our citizens a solid security framework depends on innovation. It is important for the EU to give itself strategic autonomy.
We have passed the stage where innovation means pure automation of production processes.
Today we are challenged by artificial intelligence and machine learningasks us basic questions.
How does one confirm the person’s centrality in models determined, so often, by superintelligences, by potentially autonomous development?
Ladies and gentlemen,
in this moment, when the war has returned to the European continent, with thousands of victims and devastating devastation so deeply destroying human life and places, we must persistently affirm that culture and innovation must represent instruments of dialogue, of peace, of the future .
Our three foundations must continue to carry out their valuable stimulating action. We never lose sight of this essential function.
Let me end by mentioning the experience of a small island in the Mediterranean, Procida – a true living cultural heritage – which in 2022 has been designated Italy’s Capital of Culture.
The motto they chose there, on that island, is “culture does not island”.
I hope that in such a difficult international context, we know how to make it our own, to reaffirm the threads that bind the peoples of Europe, who cannot fail because of those who have resorted to the brutality of violence and war.
Thank you for your attention.