In today’s interconnected world, culture’s power to transform societies is clear. Its diverse manifestations – from our cherished historic monuments and museums to traditional practices and contemporary art forms – enrich our everyday lives in countless ways. Heritage constitutes a source of identity and cohesion for communities disrupted by bewildering change and economic instability. Creativity contributes to building open, inclusive and pluralistic societies. Both heritage and creativity lay the foundations for vibrant, innovative and prosperous knowledge societies.
Culture is who we are and what shapes our identity. No development can be sustainable without including culture. UNESCO ensures that the role of culture is recognized through a majority of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those focusing on quality education, sustainable cities, the environment, economic growth, sustainable consumption and production patterns, peaceful and inclusive societies, gender equality and food security. UNESCO is convinced that no development can be sustainable without a strong culture component.
To ensure that culture takes it rightful place in development strategies and processes, UNESCO has adopted a three-pronged approach: it spearheads worldwide advocacy for culture and development, while engaging with the international community to set clear policies and legal frameworks and working on the ground to support governments and local stakeholders to safeguard heritage, strengthen creative industries and encourage cultural pluralism.
Today, creativity is emerging as one of the most promising avenues for changing how we see cities. Whether by revitalizing the local economy, rethinking transport or housing policies, reclaiming urban spaces, or opening up new horizons for young people, creativity is one of the driving forces behind urban policies and initiatives. Cities worldwide are focusing their attention on the cultural and creative industries as an inspiration for their future. This vision is promoted by elected representatives and city policy-makers, who see it as a strategic lever for innovation when it comes to tackling contemporary urban issues, whether on an economic, social or environmental front. More importantly, however, it is a vision shared by professionals and citizens, who are taking action in their own neighborhoods and communities to build more sustainable and more human cities.
This vision of creative urban governance is the driving force behind the UNESCO Creative Cities Programme and Network(联合国教科文组织创意城市网络). Since its creation in 2004, the Network has established itself as a strategic platform for promoting and sharing this new approach to sustainable cities. Through its standard-setting and operational actions, UNESCO has paved the way for demonstrating the essential role of creativity in urban sustainability, assisting national and local authorities and advocating this vision at an international level.
Culture and creativity play a key role in sustainable urban development. They contribute to diversifying the economy and generating jobs but they also enhance the quality of life of citizens by participating to a city’s social structure and cultural diversity.