by UNESCO Publishing, Paris, 2016. ISBN 9789231001703.
With over half of the world's population now living in urban areas, the road to sustainable development passes through cities in every corner of the globe. As the United Nations works to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, to be adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in October 2016, it is critical to bring together the best policies to make the most of our cities.
The challenges we face are steep and cities are on the frontlines of sustainable development issues such as education, food security, water management, the development of inclusive societies, and effective institutions. Yet cities are also one of humanity's most brilliant inventions for crafting solutions for the future. Fundamentally, cities bring creative and productive people together, helping them to do what they do best: exchange, create and innovate. From the ancient cities of Mesopotamia to the city-states of the Italian Renaissance and the vibrant metropolises of today, urban areas have been among the most powerful engines of human development. Today, we must once again place our hope in cities.
Culture lies at the heart of urban renewal and innovation. This Report provides a wealth of insights and concrete evidence showing the power of culture as a strategic asset for creating cities that are more inclusive, creative and sustainable. Creativity and cultural diversity have been the key drivers of urban success. Cultural activities can foster social inclusion and dialogue among diverse communities. Tangible and intangible heritage are integral parts of a city's identity, creating a sense of belonging and cohesion. Culture embodies the soul of a city, allowing it to progress and build a future of dignity for all. This reflection has been at the core of UNESCO's work over the last decades, notably through the development of programmes such as the Creative Cities Network, the Learning and Smart Cities initiatives and the protection of historic urban landscapes. This vision has received new energy with the explicit recognition of the role of culture as an enabler of sustainable development, and as one of the key conditions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11 to 'Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable'.
A human-centred city is a culture-centred space. We must translate this reality into more effective policies and sustainable urban governance. Cities have become living laboratories for determining how some of the most pressing challenges we face are negotiated, managed and experienced. We must strengthen the cultural assets of cities, the heritage that provides a sense of meaning and identity to their inhabitants, and the creative opportunities that enhance the vitality, liveability and prosperity of our cities.
This Report would not be possible without the contributions of a number of key partners of UNESCO. In this regard, I particularly wish to thank the Government of the Kingdom of Spain and the Hangzhou Municipal People's Government, whose support for UNESCO's work in the field of culture and sustainable urban development has been instrumental in bringing this publication to fruition.
Table of Contents
Part II | Culture for sustainable cities: a thematic approach
Section A People Building on the power of culture to promote human and inclusive cities
Section B Environment Improving the quality of the built and natural environment through culture
Section C Policies Integrating culture in urban policies to foster sustainable urban development
Conclusions and Recommendations | Culture for transformative change in cities