The value of culture and creativity in urban development
- The populations of cities in developing counties are exploding.
- Culture and creativity must be considered in urban planning.
- Public spaces and the arts create social cohesion.
- Involving citizens and communities in creative urban planning helps avoid exclusion.
Approximately 80 % of the population in the developing world will live in cities by 2030. Most of these cities are ill equipped to cope with rapid growth. Urbanisation brings benefits, but it also brings problems and challenges, including slums, poverty, inequality, sprawl, overcrowding and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
How can creativity in its widest sense be used to make cities more sustainable and liveable?
People ‘cannot live on bread alone’. They also need ‘food for the soul’, which is provided by art in all its manifestations, including performing and visual arts, literature, architecture and music. Appreciation of art and culture should be fostered by education systems. Appreciation of the arts also creates more tolerant and cohesive societies.
Public spaces are extremely important – they can give shape and form to a city and help to define the quality of life for its citizens. Roads, parks, plazas, beaches, waterways and government buildings that are open to the public, such as public libraries, are considered public spaces and are important for social cohesion. Planners should ensure that cities are inclusionary, not exclusionary. There should be some public multi-use spaces and some collaboratively owned spaces that people can use in a variety of different ways and for different purposes.
Speakers presented two examples of creative thinking about public spaces and direct citizen engagement.
The GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi collaborated with a Swedish architectural firm on a project to influence the transformation of a large urban area around the godown (warehouse district) and central railway station. Through workshops with residents, businesses, artists, urban development professionals and city officials, the workshops sought to understand what people wished to see in this area.
One major theme from the workshops was the question of the relationship of residents to the city. Through a three-month project, Nai ni who? (Who is Nairobi?), neighbourhoods held concerts, parades, sports, charity events, walking tours, picnics, film screenings, churches, community clean-ups and tree planting. A number of these activities took place in privately-owned spaces – an indication of the shortage of public space. At the end of the project, residents came up with an answer to the question: Nai ni sis (Nairobi is us). Much goodwill came out of the project because everyone was able to participate and play a role. The community began to look at their city in a different way and to take ownership and pride in where they live.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Medellín, Colombia, was a city of corruption and gun and drug violence. In the mid-1990s, city officials held workshops with communities to identify their hopes for their city. Over the next decade the government worked to gain the public’s trust. It developed peace agreements with gang members, provided free water, kindergartens and food supplements for children, created new programmes to prevent teen pregnancy, built health centres and sports and cultural clubs, and implemented what is widely considered to be a world-class, innovative public transport systems. Direct citizen engagement helped make Medellín a less violent and much safer city.
Before the speakers began their presentations, the audience watched Nai no who? (Who is Nairobi), a short film showcasing Kenya’s capital city as a metropolis of diverse cultures. Watch the three-minute film and learn more about the project here: www.nainiwho.com
Body: Key to urban planning is respecting local culture and harnessing local creativity. Space needs to be integrated for different types of creativity.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1674
Body: Urbanisation can lead to an inclusive city if well-designed and well-connected public spaces are included.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1673
Body: In addition to ensuring that cities function as a vector of growth, they should also function as a base for social growth and well-being for the citizens living there.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1672
Body: We can all participate in the post-2015 debate. It is the world's future. We must ensure that arts and culture make it into the debate. Anything else is failure.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1671
Body: The post-2015 era will look very different – it will be more city focused.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1670
Body: The question to all of us is whether culture in cities costs too much? Is indifference in an urban no-man’s land sustainable?Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1533
Body: A key question is the relationship of the residents to a city. This idea of whether they belong to the city or not, whether they felt they have ownership or not.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1526
Body: When it comes to city planning in cities affected by high levels of crime, the opposite of insecurity is not security but co-existence.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1525
Body: The use of mobile broadband can reduce one of the everyday frustrations of city living – commuting. The next step is to reduce the need for commuting altogether with improved communications networks.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1524
Body: ICT businesses can use their employee engagement programmes to help artists reach out to the community, to share, collaborate and even sell their work.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1523
The eradication of poverty and ensuring that prosperity and wellbeing are sustainable are two of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. These challenges are universal, interrelated and need to be addressed together by all countries.
The European Union (EU) is involved in global discussions on the development agenda after 2015 – the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – placing particular emphasis on building towards an intensive exchange with non-state actors.
Public consultations, dialogue with strategic partners and wide-ranging research have fed into the EU position on an overarching framework. Through its February 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’ and the ensuing Council Conclusions, the EU states five building blocks for a post-2015 agenda:
- Basic, universal living standards under which no-one should fall. Even if all MDGs are reached, much unfinished business will remain to eradicate poverty and further human development.
- The promotion of ‘drivers’ of inclusive, sustainable growth. Investing in infrastructure or energy, for example, creates growth and decent jobs, whilst boosting human development.
- Sustainable management of natural resources. This is vital if we are to halt environmental degradation.
- Equality, equity and justice. Not only are these values in themselves, but also fundamental for sustainable development.
- Tackling insecurity and state fragility, which impede sustainable development.
Several international processes relevant to the post-2015 agenda are ongoing. Commitments made at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 initiated work to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); a High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda recently published its recommendations for the post-2015 agenda; and a broad United Nations-led consultation process is ongoing. Recently, the UN Secretary-General published his report ‘A life of dignity for all’, which builds on these inputs. In addition, an MDG Special Event will take place in New York, USA on 25 September, which will also give recommendations on the way forward towards a post-2015 agreement.
This work will provide further impetus for the development of a framework that would offer a coherent and comprehensive response to the universal challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions.
Against this backdrop, the eighth edition of European Development Days will discuss, debate and foster consensus on the EU’s objective to set a globally-agreed, ambitious framework that addresses poverty eradication and sustainable development, and ensures a decent life for all by 2030.
Under the thread of this year’s edition – ‘A vision for the post-2015 agenda’ – this year’s forum is structured around four themes. Each theme will be composed of three topics and each topic will be highlighted by an auditorium panel and a series of lab sessions.Image: