Culture, Sustainability and Urban Innovation

Without culture, cities as vibrant life-spaces do not exist; they are merely concrete and steel constructions, prone to social degradation and fracture. It is culture that makes the difference. It is culture that defines the city as what the ancient Romans called the civitas, a coherent social complex, the collective body of all citizens.

UNESCO, 2016

This note highlights the importance of valuing the cultural dimensions of sustainability and the role of culture in urban innovation and wellbeing. It is intended to support the City of Cape Town (CCT) and Arts & Culture Branch (ACB) in developing a strategic positioning for culture.

A strategic approach to culture can:

  • Build innovative cultural and social capacities and capabilities
  • Promote creative forms of governance
  • Stimulate citizenship through democracy, diversity and inclusion
  • Support inclusive and sustainable cultural industries and creative economies
  • Foreground the importance of cultural and natural heritage assets that integrate tangible and intangible heritage
  • Elevate the role of culture in supporting environmental responsibilities
  • Meet the objectives of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11
  • Identify strategic partnerships for culture-led planning