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UCLG releases a paper on the role of Culture for sustainable development

Highlighting the role of culture in the production of new sustainable development models and urban planning is a core focus of Culture Action Europe’s activities.
At the beginning of 2015, Culture Action Europe, jointly with its partner, the Agenda 21 for Culture (UCLG), launched the Pilot Cities programme entitled “Culture in Sustainable Cities: Learning with Culture 21 Actions”.

Today, we wish to draw your attention to the January 2016 policy paper published by the Agenda 21 for Culture (UCLG). Examining “why must culture be at the heart of sustainable urban development?“, the paper strongly contributes to the acknowledgment of culture as a central element in the paradigm of sustainable cities.

Inspired by the three models for Culture and Sustainable development, the analysis clearly shows that “there are multiple ways of viewing culture’s relationship with sustainability, and [that] myths about culture present obstacles to fully integrating culture into urban development planning and strategies.”

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Culture should be fully integrated in urban development planning, while taking care that it is not “made invisible” in this process, the study says. “The distinctive features and benefits of cultural expressions, activities, and a diversity of approaches must be appreciated and nurtured, and culture and cultural heritage conserved and safeguarded through informed, intelligent, and sensitive cultural policies”.

Alongside the global conversation on sustainable development, and the approval of the new “Habitat III” urban agenda, this Culture 21 policy paper brings important reflections on myths, counter-narratives, but also challenges and recommendations on the role of culture in sustainable development. It reminds local governments of their responsibility in facilitating this specific equilibrium between integrating culture in urban development, while appreciating it as a whole and recognizing its belonging to citizens and communities.