UNESCO Creative Cities Mayors Invest in Culture for Sustainable Development
From 10 to 15 June 2019, in Fabriano, Italy, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network XIII Annual Conference gathered 50 mayors among 480 participates from some 145 cities worldwide.
Committed to achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through culture-oriented policies, the mayors exchanged on the theme of “The Ideal City”, and shared examples of how their cities are addressing community needs by building on culture and creativity to develop innovative and inclusive urban strategies.
Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy, Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Gabriele Santarelli, Mayor of Fabriano, and Maria Francesca Merloni, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Creative Cities, who opened the Conference on 12 June, emphasized culture’s capacity to connect peoples and communities, to foster dialogue and to bring about positive social, economic and environmental change. “Culture goes beyond all boundaries,” said President Mattarella.
The cross-cutting power of culture for sustainable development
Participants explored prospects for the future of their cities by focusing on the role of culture across development areas including education, inclusiveness, environment and economic growth – and by stressing the cross-cutting contribution of culture to achieving the SDGs. City planners and mayors are investing significantly in culture to make their cities better and sustainable. As new practices evolve, Creative Cities are emerging as hubs of experimentation that lead to innovative and successful models of sustainable development.
For instance, Cities of Literature are ensuring freedom of expression and literacy for all, while fostering multilingual environments (SDG 4). Cities of Gastronomy are paving the way towards responsible production and consumption patterns (SDGs 8 and 12). Cities of Film and of Music provide spaces for promoting human rights, equality and solidarity (SDGs 6, 10 and 16). Cities of Design rethink housing, public spaces, access and mobility as well as stimulate social innovation and global citizenship (SDGs 4 and 11). Cities of Crafts and Folk Art build on the diversity of cultural expressions and heritage while ensuring intergenerational dialogue and the safeguarding of community practices (SDG 11). Cities of Media Arts promote contemporary urban narratives and space for cultural expression with new technologies (SDG 11).
LAB.2030 – Generating innovative ideas
The Conference provided an opportunity to share the first publication of the UCCN LAB.2030 Initiative, entitled Voices of the City: UNESCO Creative Cities moving towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which demonstrates diverse ways in which the Creative Cities embrace culture in their local policies.
For example, a strategy on transitioning from an industrial to a forward-thinking city is used in Saint-Étienne (France) to explore new paths towards economic development including experimental solutions for vacant infrastructures. In Santos (Brazil), a Creative Ecofactory has been established to stimulate skills development and boost employability for people from marginalized communities. Other examples include Cairo (Egypt), where new ways of connecting heritage to local economies are emerging, and Sydney (Australia), whose local government is committed to countering gender bias and where the number of female writers has increased in three years’ time from 32% in 2015 to 53% in 2018.
There are currently 180 Creative Cities in 72 countries. While differing geographically, demographically or economically, they are all committed to develop and exchange innovative best practices to promote creative industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies. The Network also supports artistic exchange, partnerships between its members as well as between public and private sectors, and research.
The Annual Conference in 2020 will focus on the theme of “Creativity, Path to Equality” and will be hosted by the city of Santos (Brazil).