X Annual Meeting in Östersund: objectives, outcomes and perspectives
The X UCCN Annual Meeting took place in Östersund, Sweden, from 14 to 16 September 2016. This event gathered over 250 participants, including 22 mayors, representing nearly 100 Creative Cities. This was the largest meeting in the Network’s history, which is now, as one knows, made up of 116 cities from 54 countries worldwide.
For the occasion, Alice Bah Kuhnke, Sweden’s Minister for Culture and Democracy, has defined the Network as follows:
“UCCN is an important meeting arena, connecting people from around the world with a focus on the future. We need to use all of our creativity, sympathy and innovation to meet future challenges; the new ideas shared here can be taken up by the delegates and implemented in their home cities.”
Exchanging ideas and projects, sharing knowledge and practices, developing future inter-cities partnerships to make culture and creativity essential drivers of sustainable urban development have given the tempo to this X Annual Meeting, which has also explored the links between urban and rural areas. AnnSofie Andersson, Mayor of Östersund, said in this regard that:
“This meeting was a great opportunity to broaden the understanding that urban and rural spaces are mutually connected to each other, and that this linkage is a future issue of sustainable development in all regions worldwide.”
This X Annual Meeting has been, first and foremost, a dialogue platform for establishing an overview of insights and partnerships developed by the members of the Network to implement the Mission Statement, for further directing the actions towards the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, and for exploring the perspectives of cross-cutting and multi-stakeholders cooperation. In key points, the Annual Meeting in Östersund enabled to:
- Integrate the Network’s new members, designated in December 2015;
- Strengthen the Network’s governance, notably with the first renewal of the Steering Group;
- Define the Network’s priorities for the coming year;
- Reflect on the future development and strategic objectives of a growing and geographically balanced Network;
- Review the numerous initiatives undertaken by members to promote the contribution of creativity to sustainable urban development and establish the building blocks for developing cities’ actions aimed at achieving the Network’s objectives;
- Review the first round of Membership Monitoring Reports submitted by the cities that have joined the Network between 2004 and 2006;
- Coordinate the management and activities of the 7 sub-networks, with the recommended organization of at least one sub-network meeting per year;
- Establish working methods enabling Creative Cities to actively contribute to UNESCO’s Culture and Sustainable Urban Development Initiative, with the local implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda to be soon adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, 17-20 October; and
- Reflect on the future strategy of the Network.
A highlight of the Meeting was the Mayors’ Meeting gathering 22 local authorities and enabling the sharing of diverse approaches and practical experiences from different regions around the world aimed at harnessing creativity for social, economic and environmental development and reinforcing support for the Network at the political level.
The X Annual Meeting concluded with Creative Cities adopting the Östersund Declaration which, builds upon the Hangzhou Outcomes, has reaffirmed the importance of culture and creativity as vital and transformative drivers of sustainable development. As Jyoti Hosagrahar, Director of the Division for Creativity, said:
"The Creative Cities have expressed their strong commitment to heightening the role of culture and creativity as enablers for sustainable development in urban environments, particularly in this lead-up to the Habitat III meeting.”
The Secretariat wishes to reiterate its sincerest thanks and congratulations to Östersund, Creative City of Gastronomy since 2010, as well as to the Region Jämtland Härjedalen, to have hosted this successful X Annual Meeting.
See you next year in Enghien-les-Bains, France, from 29 June to 2 July 2017 for the XI Annual Meeting. Click to watch the trailer.