In the framework of the Africa-Europe Week organized by the European Commission (DG INTPA) on the occasion of the 6th European Union-African Union Summit, the Belgian development agency Enabel, the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles/Wallonie-Bruxelles International and Bozar in cooperation with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) are organizing a panel debate on “Culture and creativity for the future of cities”.
The one hour online discussion is integrated in the Africa-Europe Week’s day dedicated to civil society and local governments, and addresses the city as cradle of innovation to imagine the human-centered sustainable city of tomorrow with specific reference to the African continent.
Tuesday 15 February 2022, from 12:15 - 13:15 (Brussels time UCT +1)
Nouhoun Diarra (Mayor of the city of Segou, Mali), Jean Van Wetter (Managing Director of Enabel), Dorcy Rugamba (Director of Rwanda Arts Initiative), Mark Olweny (Professor of Architecture at Martyr’s University, Uganda), Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi (Secretary General of UCLG-Africa), Orla Murphy (Architect, New European Bauhaus Initiative), Louise Haxthausen (UNESCO) and a representative of the European institutions.
The debate will be moderated by Hervé Kimenyi (Rwandan comedian).
This panel debate is also the official launch of the publication "Culture and Creativity for the Future of Cities: Theory, Practice and Methodologies from African, Asian and Latin American Countries"
Although the mainstream understanding of sustainable development has focused particularly on economic, social and environmental dimensions, an increasing number of academics, organisations and cultural industry leaders have stressed the essential role of cultural aspects. Policy approaches emphasising the importance of culture for sustainable development support the role of cultural rights, a dynamic notion of culture, the interconnectedness of economic, social, environmental and cultural factors and the value of core aspects of culture (e.g., heritage, diversity, creativity).
Applying this at urban and local level becomes important because of the increasing ‘localisation’ of development goals, as outlined in the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. Cities operate as ‘laboratories’ in addressing emerging challenges, the effective role of local governments and their associations, and mobilise all local stakeholders in connecting culture with sustainable development.
The proposed discussion engages leading artists, architects and local authorities of Africa and Europe to reflect on the role of culture and creativity in cities, and the inter-continental synergies to be made between initiatives and visionary frameworks as the New European Bauhaus* and the Agenda 2063 (The Africa We Want)**.
It aims to understand how Africa, projected to top 2.5 bio inhabitants by 2050, faces the current global challenges of sustainable urban development, given the continent’s great income disparities, uneven governance levels, and gaps in urban planning training. How is it tackling simultaneously environmental priorities with recovery of economic losses incurred with the pandemic crisis, adapting urban features for living with climate change and pandemic risks, all the while maintaining quality of life for citizens and attractiveness for investors? And what role do culture and creativity in cities play so that Africa contributes to the planet’s global solutions?
Our guest African specialists will present recent and innovative urban cultural projects (detailed in the publication promoted) and enter into a dialogue with their European counterparts on how to design the cities of the future, making reference to other initiatives such as the UNESCO Creative Cities Network*** and African Capitals of Culture****, and addressing these specific questions:
- How can African cities best capitalize on their heritage, arts & creative industries to generate a sustainable city and socio-economic growth ?
- How are science, education and digital technologies contributing to capitalized growth?
- What improved housing models could offer basic dignified housing that reduces inequalities and fragile living, harmonizes basic infrastructure access, promotes social cohesion, while protecting from future pandemics, especially in contexts of high density and minimal mobility?
- What synergies or expertise exchange is possible between EU and AFR so that both continents collaborate on the global environmental challenges and affect transformative changes in the key sectors concerned by the Green Deal?
- What concrete long-term development methodologies could be supported by EU and AU?
*The New European Bauhaus
, launched in 2021, encourages, promotes and rewards urban solutions to environmental challenges in Europe. “If the European Green Deal has a soul, it is the New European Bauhaus” (EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel).
***The UNESCO Creative Cities Network
(UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 246 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/home
****The African Capitals of Culture is a programme
led by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa). Created by Africans for Africans, the African Capitals of Culture aim to design alternative development scenarios for the continent and the world, based on unparalleled cultural depth and addressing the challenges of transition, which are the key to our common future. https://africapitales.org/a-propos/