Jeju Summit: World Cities and Networks Cooperate to Promote Culture in Sustainable Development


The world’s largest gathering of cities for culture closed today in Jeju, Republic of Korea, with the commitment to strengthen international collaboration to make culture a core area of approaches to sustainable development in cities.

Over three days, the second UCLG Culture Summit has gathered over 700 participants, representing local governments, international organisations, national governments, non-governmental organisations and networks, artists, academics, and other professionals.

Speaking at the Closing Plenary, UCLG President Mpho Parks Tau, said “Local and regional governments are essential in ensuring a better future for all, everywhere. And cultural life and cultural rights are part of the cities we want”. He added that "“We must strive for people-centred cities that allow residents to co-create the city they want”".

Maria Victoria Alcaraz (Buenos Aires, representing the Co-presidencies of the UCLG Committee on culture) stated at the Closing Plenary that “sustainable development cannot happen without local policies explicitly addressing heritage, diversity and creativity”.

The Governor of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, Won Hee-ryong, highlighted how traditional and contemporary culture are essential ingredients in the quality of life enjoyed by citizens of Jeju, this being a model that other cities and regions in the world could draw inspiration from. On his own words: “the wind of change is blowing all over the world (…) our goal is to achieve UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and great efforts are required, efforts to count on the involvement of all cultural actors in cities and territories”.WON is also the President of the Asia-Pacific section of UCLG (UCLG-ASPAC) and the Vice-President of UCLG.

Mpho Parks TAU, said “Local and regional governments are essential in ensuring a better future for all, everywhere. And cultural life and cultural rights are part of the cities we want”.

Enriched by three days of high-level debates, project presentations, and networking, UCLG has strengthened its commitment to continue advocating for a stronger role of cultural aspects in global sustainable development agendas. In particular, the following steps are foreseen:

  1. Fostering policy innovation and peer-learning on culture and local sustainable development, through the strengthening of the Culture 21 Actions learning programmes, including Leading Cities, Pilot Cities, and Culture 21 Lab.
  2. Recognising excellent experiences and contributions to culture in sustainable cities, through the forthcoming launch of the third edition of the International Award UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21. The Award acknowledges significant contributions made by cities and by leading personalities.
  3. Advocating for the place of culture in global agendas, including the monitoring frameworks of the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and its local and national implementation, as well as the implementation of the New Urban Agenda adopted at the UN Habitat III conference, and the planning of other global agendas and frameworks on sustainable development.
  4. Enhance cross-sectoral networking on culture and sustainable development, through the reinforcement of collaboration among global cultural networks and with other civil society organisations active in the areas of human rights and sustainable development.
  5. Strengthen global debates and partnerships, including by broadening participation to more cities in lesser-represented regions, strengthening collaboration with UNESCO and with regional organisations and finding new opportunities at local, regional and global level.

Meeting at the end of the UCLG Culture Summit, the UCLG Committee on Culture discussed its work programme for 2017, which includes measures in these areas.

The final day of debates at the Culture Summit also involved a debate in which representatives of major international cities, including Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Rome, Istanbul and Bilbao, and civil society activists, including Lucina Jiménez, Jon Hawkes and Katherine Watson, discussed the role of cultural rights and local partnerships for culture in improving local sustainable development.

Earlier in the day, representatives of the cities of Taichung, Lyon, Busan, Daegu and Strasbourg, along with several experts and organisations active in the cultural field (Kseniya Khovanova-Rubicondo, an advisor to the Council of Europe; Francisco d’Almeida, the Co-Director of Culture et Développement; Kotaro Nakamura, Director of the School of Art and Design, San Diego State University; and Jeong-hoo Kim, Professor, University College London) discussed the place of cultural policies in urban neighbourhoods.

Other morning sessions involved a discussion on the strengthening of a “Culture Coalition” in the context of the forthcoming COP23 Conference on Climate Change, due to be held in Bonn in November 2017, and a workshop on the existing narratives and discourses on culture and sustainable development.

Following the end of official discussions, on late Friday and Saturday, participants of the second UCLG Culture Summit have the opportunity to meet with cultural actors and devote time to in-depth visits to cultural venues and sites across Jeju island.