Creative Cities declare culture and creativity vital to sustainable development

16 September 2016


"Outdoor lunch - rural meets urban, UCCN 10th Annual Meeting, Östersund, Sweden"
@ Roger Strandberg all rights reserved

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), at its tenth annual meeting, has adopted a Declaration that advocates the importance of culture and creativity as vital and transformative drivers of sustainable development. Cities will aim to actively cooperate at the international level, support the mobility of artists and cultural professionals, maximize urban-rural connections within the Network, and revitalize cities by underpinning sustainable urban development with culture and creativity.

The UCCN met in the Swedish city of Östersund from 14 to 16 September 2016, where some 250 representatives including 22 mayors from nearly 100 Creative Cities across the globe exchanged on their cultural urban policies and practices.

Among the topics discussed was enhancing linkages between urban and rural areas.   AnnSofie Andersson, Mayor of Östersund, highlighted that “this meeting was a great opportunity to broaden the understanding that city and land are mutually connected to each other, and that this linkage is a future issue of sustainable development in all regions worldwide.”

UCCN members, which now total 116 cities, identify within the themes of crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music. They work together to place creativity and cultural industries at the core of their local development plans and cooperate internationally through inter-cities partnerships.


Alice Bah Kuhnke, Sweden’s Minister of Culture and Democracy, stated that “UCCN is an important meeting arena, connecting people from around the world with a focus on the future. We need to use all of our creativity, sympathy and innovation to meet future challenges; the new ideas shared here can be taken up by the delegates and implemented in their home cities.”


As reflected in the adopted Declaration, which builds upon the “Hangzhou Outcomes”, the meeting has notably addressed local and international implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Creative Cities have reaffirmed their commitment to follow the guidelines of the New Urban Agenda, including the integration of culture in urban and regional development, which will feature at the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III, Quito, Ecuador, 17 - 20 October 2016).


"The Creative Cities have expressed their strong commitment to heightening the role of culture and creativity as enablers for sustainable development in urban environments, particularly in this lead-up to the Habitat III meeting” stated Jyoti Hosagrahar, Director of UNESCO’s Division for Creativity.  She added “more research and locally-generated data is needed to assess and monitor the impact of creativity for sustainable urban development”.

UNESCO has long advocated for culture and creativity to feature prominently in development policies and initiatives. Indeed UNESCO’s Culture and Sustainable Urban Development Initiative demonstrates how protection and promotion of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and support to creative industries can be key factors in sustainable development.

See also

The adopted Declaration (pdf in English only)

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network