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INTRODUCTIONThe Agenda 21 for Culture is the first document with a worldwide mission that advocates establishing the groundwork of an undertaking by cities and local governments for cultural development. It was agreed by cities and local governments from all over the world to enshrine their commitment to human rights, cultural diversity, sustainability, participatory democracy and creating conditions for peace. It was approved by the 4th Forum of Local Authorities for Social Inclusion of Porto Alegre, held in Barcelona on 8 May 2004 as part of the first Universal Forum of Cultures
Brief background to Agenda 21 for CultureThe initial idea to form guidelines for local cultural policies was brought during the first World Public Meeting on Culture in September 2002 in Porte Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. This document was comparable to what the Agenda 21 meant in 1992 for the environment. Two years later on 8 May 2004, the final document was approved in Barcelona and consequently submitted to the UN-HABITAT and UNSECO in September 2004. However, from October 2004, the world organization United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) assumed the coordination of the Agenda 21 for culture.
UCLG Culture SummitsThe United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is an umbrella organization which represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage, regardless of the size of the communities they serve. Their mission is to“be the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government, promoting its values, objectives and interests, through cooperation between local governments, and within the wider international community”. The UCLG Culture Summit is the main meeting point at global level of cities, local governments and other stakeholders that are committed to the effective implementation of policies and programs on culture and sustainability. The UCLG organized its first culture summit in Bilbao, Spain 18th-20th March 2015 with the title “Culture and Sustainable Cities” while, the second summit was organized recently 10th-13th May 2017 in Jeju, Special Administrative Province, South Korea with the title “Commitments and Actions for Culture in Sustainable Cities”.
United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsThe Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are officially known as the “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is a set of 17 “Global Goals” which were adopted by world leaders in September 2015 after the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals have specific targets which are aimed to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity over the next 15 years. Amongst the 17 Global Goals, it is the eleventh goal and, specifically Action Point 4 that is of significance from culture sector perspective.
The Eleventh GoalThe Eleventh goal of the SDG is to “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” includes an action point to Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. This action point is where INTACH can contribute in promoting and realizing Agenda 21 in India, and as a result, contribute to the International discussion on SDG 2030.
UNDERSTANDING SUSTAINABILITYSustainable development has been defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It calls for a concerted effort towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet”.Source: United Nations
Three Pillars of SustainabilityFor sustainable development, it is crucial to harmonize three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected and all are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies.
Fourth Pillar of SustainabilityTo create a new culturally sensitive urban development model, the role of cultural practices and values in sustainable development must be explicitly recognized, supported, and integrated into planning and policy in a systematic and comprehensive way.
UNDERSTANDING THE AGENDA 21 FOR CULTUREThe mission of the Agenda 21 for Culture is to promote Culture as the Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development through the international dissemination and the local implementation of Agenda 21 for culture. The network of UCLG is spread across Europe, Latin America, Africa, North America, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and West Asia. However, no Indian city is a part of this network. The agenda has a total of 67 articles, divided into three sections – Principles (16 articles), Undertakings (29 articles) and Recommendations (22 articles). Thematically, it can also be divided into five sections – Culture and Human Rights; Culture and Governance; Culture, Sustainability and Territory; Culture and Social Inclusion; and Culture and Economy.
Culture 21 ActionsThe Culture 21 Actions is an international guide and tool that promotes knowledge, facilitates the exchange of good practices, and strengthens a global network of effective and innovative cities and local government. In order to provide achievable and measurable international guidelines and standards, the UCLG has conceived nine “Commitments” to provide guidance for the work of the local governments linked to the Agenda 21 for Culture. These commitments aim to promote processes of self- evaluation leading to the better fulfilment and more effective implementation of public policies and strategies. The “Commitments” are as follows, each with their own Action Points:
- Cultural Rights;
- Heritage, diversity and creativity
- Culture and education
- Culture and environment
- Culture and economy
- Culture, equality, and social inclusion
- Culture, urban planning and public spaces
- Culture, information, and knowledge
- Governance of culture
INTACH CITIES FOR CULTUREINTACH Heritage Academy proposes “INTACH Cities for Culture” along the lines of the Agenda 21 for Culture, its nine Commitments and their Action Points. These Commitments will aim to be a Chapters Guide which will promote knowledge, facilitate the exchange of good practices, and strengthen the Chapter network of effective and innovative cities and local government. This is an ambitious program to run over the next three years. It will provide an integrated action plan and a larger mission that will connect all INTACH Chapters, Technical Divisions, and the Headquarters. For more detailed information, please see – Agenda21_for_Culture Pilot Event in Bhopal
UCLG presents an award that is unique and the only one at a global level to recognise a city, local or regional government whose cultural policy has contributed significantly to linking the values of culture (heritage, diversity, creativity and transmission of knowledge) with democratic governance, citizen participation and sustainable development