UNESCO Creative Cities focus on inclusion to build the cities of tomorrow
From 18 to 22 July 2022, the XIV Annual Conference of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in Santos, Brazil gathered 220 participants, including 40 mayors, from some 100 Creative Cities worldwide
After a two-year interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO Creative Cities representatives met again in person in Santos, Brazil, to exchange views, experiences and initiatives aimed at promoting more inclusive and egalitarian cities, in line with UNESCO’s global priorities and Sustainable Development Goals 10, “Reduced Inequalities”, and 11, “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Rogério Santos, Mayor of Santos, Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, and Ambassador Paula Alves de Souza, Director of the Guimaraes Rosa Institute of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opened the Conference, highlighting the key role that culture and creativity can play in promoting inclusion and the empowerment of the most marginalized, especially at the local level, in line with the theme of the Conference “Creativity, Path to Equality”.
“Tackling social inequality is at the heart of the theme of this year’s Annual Conference - from unequal access to culture to the lack of social safety nets and fair remuneration for artists and creators. Let us join efforts through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network to develop concrete local actions to achieve more just, egalitarian and prosperous societies through culture”, said Ernesto Ottone R.
Creative Cities on the path to equality and inclusivity
From Ambon to Asahikawa, Bergen to Bohicon, Manchester to Merida, some 20 Mayors from Creative Cities shared their knowledge, experiences, and good practices during the Mayor’s Forum, illustrating the diverse ways in which cultural and creative industries have been leveraged in Creative Cities to regenerate urban areas and create economic and social opportunities for inhabitants.
Santos, a City of Film, has implemented various initiatives in this regard, such as the development of its 10 Creative Villages throughout the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. In 2021 alone, they provided more than 3, 200 local students with qualification courses in areas such as gastronomy, fashion and beauty, audio-visual, and technology.
In the same spirit, Rouen, a City of Gastronomy, supports initiatives led by associations for emergency food assistance. The city of Santa Maria da Feira, through its Network of public libraries and cultural roaming services, provides diverse literacy opportunities to communities, particularly factory workers, persons with disabilities, children, youth and older persons.
Creative Cities working towards UNESCO global priorities
Over the course of six Thematic Transversal Panels, discussions were structured around the priorities of UNESCO.
During the panel on Priority Africa and SIDS, Nakuru, a City of Crafts and Folk Art, presented its “Urukan” artistic and culture hub aimed at supporting sustainable small businesses in the creative economy and improving quality of life for artists.
Focusing on gender equality, youth and marginalized groups, Gaziantep, a City of Gastronomy illustrated its “women cooperatives”, a project providing social and employment opportunities for disadvantaged and vulnerable women in the gastronomy sector.
Pesaro, a City of Music, showcased its impressive “Sonosphere” during the climate resilience panel. This immersive sensory experience has focused on immersing audiences in natural ecosystems, classical and electronic music as a way to raise awareness of the need for an ecological transition
In the course of the innovation and technology panel, Milan, a City of Literature, presented its use of Virtual Reality to increase access to literature amongst marginalised communities.
Creative Cities of Media Art also showed how the Network can serve as a platform for international collaboration, presenting the “City to City” project, which gathered artists from more than 10 Creative Cities during the COVID-19 pandemic to support art and creativity.
Finally, during the panel focused on COVID-19 recovery, Seoul, a City of Design, shared “Hae-so-dahng: a stress-relieving design” project, which uses design to supporter older persons recovery from the effects of the pandemic, by reconnecting them with social networks and promoting their psychological well-being.
H. Exc. Santiago Irazabal Mourao, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Brazil to UNESCO and President of the 41st General Conference of UNESCO, highlighted that:
“The UNESCO Creative Cities Network and its member cities are proud of acting as impactful change agents and leading the way towards building the sustainable and inclusive cities of tomorrow”.
The Annual Conference proved to be an excellent platform for stakeholders to showcase the role of cities as hubs of creativity, capable of designing innovative solutions to global challenges and generating new opportunities by leverage culture and placing it at the core of sustainable urban development.
The Annual Conference in 2023 will focus on the theme of “Future-proof cities” and will be hosted by the city of Istanbul.