Jeju Summit: Global Sustainable Development Needs More Culture


International efforts to achieve sustainable development, guarantee social inclusion and an equitable economy, and reduce the impact of climate change will only be successful if the cultural aspects of life in communities are explicitly taken into account. This was one of the conclusions of the second day of debates at the 2nd UCLG Culture Summit, an event hosted by Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and UCLG, which takes place at the Jeju Culture & Arts Center, Jeju City, Republic of Korea, until Saturday 13 May.

In the course of the day, several sessions discussed the place of culture in the sustainable development agendas adopted by the United Nations, including the Sustainable Development Goals included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015), and the New Urban Agenda emerging from the Habitat III discussions (2016). Both these documents include some references to the importance of culture to achieve sustainable development.

Several visions and approaches around this idea where exposed during the session, among them:

"If your locality is implementing the SDGs and is not working on culture, then they’re doing it wrong".

 We need to take action to make culture more thoroughly recognized in the 2030 agenda".

We must celebrate UCLG has given great support to the place of culture in sustainable development agendas".

However, in the view of most participants at the Summit, international agencies, national and local governments, and NGOs, need to strengthen their understanding and practices around creativity, diversity, heritage and cultural participation for everyone if they want further progress in sustainable development. To this end, several cultural networks and organisations participating in the Summit agreed to strengthen their collaboration. Work is already underway in some areas, including the development of indicators to evaluate progress on Target 11.4 of the SDGs, which aims to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Some of the world’s largest and strongest networks in the fields of culture and development took part in the discussions, including the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the International Music Council (IMC), the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).

(...) international agencies, national and local governments, and NGOs, need to strengthen their understanding and practices around creativity, diversity, heritage and cultural participation for everyone if they want further progress in sustainable development.

Evidence of how culture contributes to local and global sustainable development was presented in several sessions throughout the day. Among the topics addressed were the following:

  • The importance of public space to foster access to culture for everyone, with experiences from Vaudreuil-Dorion (Quebec, Canada), Lille (France), Makati (Philippines), Cuenca (Ecuador), Gwangju (Republic of Korea), and Jeju.
  • The role of tangible and intangible heritage in community cohesion and urban sustainability, with examples from the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Chignahuapan (Mexico), Konya (Turkey), La Paz (Bolivia), Kobe (Japan), and contributions by experts from Singapore, Romania and Canada.
  • The contribution that cultural industries can make to inclusive sustainable development, with a range of examples from the cities of Jeju, Trenggalek Regency (Indonesia), and Mannheim (Germany), and contributions by experts from the European Union, Mexico, South Africa, and the Global Social Economy Forum.
  • How cultural organisations and cities can contribute to addressing the impacts of climate change, as discussed by representatives of the cities of Jeju, Male (Maldives), and Catbalongan (Philippines), and organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), ICOMOS, Julie’s Bicycle (UK), Salzburg Global Seminar (Austria), Rujak Centre for Urban Studies (Indonesia), and Performing Lines (Australia).
  • The need for cultural policies to broaden opportunities for women to take part in cultural life, as discussed by experts including Lucina Jiménez (Conarte, Mexico), Ammu Joseph (India), Annamari Laaksonen (IFACCA, Australia), YOO Chulin (University of Jeju), LEE Sunhwa (Council Member, Jeju Provincial Council), and Anne Hilty (EastWest Psyche Ltd., Hong Kong).
  • How Capital of Culture programmes help to visualize the importance of culture in cities, as shown by initiatives such as the European Capital of Culture, the Culture City of East Asia, the Iberoamerican Capital of Culture, and the Arab Capital of Culture, which shared a panel at the Summit.
  • The evaluation of the impacts of culture on the social, economic, environmental, and cultural dimensions of sustainable development, with contributions from KIM Seungsu, the Mayor of Jeonju (Republic of Korea), and experts including John Smithies (Cultural Development Network, Australia), Beatriz Garcia (University of Liverpool, UK), Kiley Arroyo (Cultural Strategies Council, USA), Francisco d’Almeida (Culture et Développement, France), Randy Durband (Global Sustainable Tourism Council), and Claus-Peter Echter (Europa Nostra).

Sessions of the 2nd UCLG Culture Summit will end on Friday 12 May, with contributions that will outline recommendations to strengthen the attention paid to culture in local, national and global strategies on sustainable development. After this, on Friday and Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to explore several cultural venues and sites across Jeju island.