The Soul of Cities: UNESCO says culture is key to sustainable urban development

Launched by UNESCO in 2015, the Culture for Sustainable Urban Development Initiative seeks to demonstrate the link between the implementation of the UNESCO Culture Conventions and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious, universal agenda for creating a more peaceful, prosperous and equitable world.

Now, in late 2016, the initiative has published its UNESCO Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development.

Among the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 11 on sustainable cities makes it clear that culture has an essential role to play in realizing sustainable urban development, particularly through strengthened efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Building on SDG 11, the Culture for Sustainable Urban Development Initiative brings together national and local governments, universities and research centres, NGOs and civil society actors from across the globe around three main lines of action:

  1. Launching and disseminating the UNESCO Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development, a ground-breaking report which presents a series of analyses and recommendations for fostering the role of culture for sustainable development. Drawing on a global survey implemented with nine regional partners and insights from scholars, NGOs and urban thinkers, the Report offers a global overview of urban heritage safeguarding, conservation and management, as well as the promotion of cultural and creative industries, highlighting their role as resources for sustainable urban development;
  2. Organizing high-level events, such as the International Conference on “Culture for Sustainable Cities” (Hangzhou, China, 10-12 December 2015), which provide an international platform for the exchange of best practices and experiences regarding the preservation and redevelopment of urban areas;
  3. Promoting a culture-based approach to urban planning, regeneration and development through the New Urban Agenda, adopted in October 2016 at the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat-III), in Quito, Ecuador.

Download full report (PDF).

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