International Conference on Sustainable Cities to be held in Hangzhou (China)

19 October 2015

The International Conference on “Culture for Sustainable Cities” organized in cooperation with the Hangzhou Municipal People's Government and with the support of the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, will take place in Hangzhou (People’s Republic of China) from 10 to 12 December 2015. This will be the first major international conference organized by UNESCO in the field of culture since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Hangzhou Conference is specially conceived to follow-up on the Agenda’s Goal 11, which aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

The conference will serve as a platform for discussion on the key role of cultural heritage and the cultural and creative industries in sustainable urban development, notably through the conservation and safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage, urban regeneration, the promotion of cultural diversity and creative expressions for more inclusive societies.

Participants will include high-level representatives of governments, international and non-governmental organizations, mayors, world renowned experts and civil society actors with a wide range of backgrounds and experience. They will all come together in Hangzhou, a city that has demonstrated its long-standing commitment to promote sustainable development in an urban context.

UNESCO’s Director-General has declared that “developing a more sustainable urban environment means striving for a harmonious continuum between the past, present and future, in order to improve the welfare and quality of life of all citizens.” This statement is particularly relevant at a time when more than half of the world’s population is living in an urban setting. Experts predict that this figure will reach 70 per cent over the next 30 years.

In light of their prominent role in bolstering the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, cities are central to UNESCO’s efforts to promote the role of culture in urban development processes related to poverty reduction, gender equality, social justice, risk reduction and quality of life.

Through a reflection on key themes, such as threats to urban heritage, resilience, creativity within the urban economy, multicultural cities and cultural tourism, the Hangzhou Conference seeks to explore and exchange ideas on the draft UNESCO Global Report on Culture and Sustainable Urban Development in view of the New Urban Agenda to be adopted by the United Nations at the Habitat-III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, (October 2016). Devoted to housing and sustainable urban development, the Habitat-III Conference is expected to propose recommendations on the most effective ways to maximize the role of culture in sustainable development, and to reinforce its recognition within the international development agenda as a driver for equitable change.