Culture and Sustainable Cities

“Culture takes humanity into the future” said Marcel Pandin after his session on Cultural Policy and the importance of beautiful development. “Culture is a verb – it’s what we do”. This added a future layer to the many definitions of culture woven into the recent United Cities and Local Governments Culture Summit on Culture amd Sustainable Cities. Marcel’s belief that culture is an unravelling process goes to the heart of the conference theme: if we do not sustain a healthy culture, we will not have a healthy future.

Leaders of local and international cultural organisations met on the beautiful island of Jeju, South Korea, to discuss culture as a key dimension of sustainable development. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals references to the importance of local culture gave the summit a sense of significance and urgency. So too did the inspirational projects of the hundreds of international delegates and speakers.

I was particularly taken by urgent need for good cultural activity in our cities. That is to say, we have few resources for mediocre activity. Our goals should be directly driven by the outcomes John Smithies powerfully presented at the summit:

  • Creativity Stimulated
  • Aesthetic enrichment experienced
  • New knowledge, ideas and insights generated and shared
  • Cultural diversity appreciated
  • Connection to shared heritage experienced

With these outcomes guiding cultural activity, a more sustainable, more tolerant world is possible.

David Caffery.

I travelled in a group of five Australian cultural experts to South Korea, coordinated by the Cultural Development Network. 

View my notes from the conference session on culture in Agenda2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals hereUCLG Summit Logo

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