Nairobi, 27 September 2021 – Global experts meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations 76th General Assembly discussed the role of culture and creativity in urban development and how worldwide crises such as a pandemic can shape the discussions.

The virtual experts group meeting, organised by UN-Habitat and the Chinese city of Shenzhen, looked at the development trajectory of different cities around the world to explore what inherent tendencies exist and what global and local mechanisms trigger the evolution of dynamics that also foster innovation and creativity.

Under the title “Culture, Creativity and Urban Innovation: What Next?” the experts examined “The Story of Shenzhen project team” as a research case to study the cultural power of cities, their inherent “genes” and whether other cities can learn from such knowledge.    

Globally, the stage is set for taking culture and creativity to a new level as key considerations for urban development but also raised questions: What is culture? Do we take a narrow and broader definition? What is innovation? And what is its relation to creativity? What is the role of culture and creativity playing in urban development and its innovative capacities?

Crises such as the pandemic provoke a dramatic reordering of priorities, as well as deep reflection and rethinking. Such variables have dramatically changed the context in thinking about culture, creativity, and urban development.

UN-Habitat’s Eduardo Moreno, Knowledge Management Branch Head, and Melissa Permezel, coordinator of the Innovation unit, contributed to the opening remarks, emphasising the importance of culture and innovation in global sustainable urbanization (especially the post-pandemic world). UN-Habitat considers how global cities can foster innovation and inclusive development from an anthropological perspective.

Qiang Wang, president of the Shenzhen Association for International Cultural Exchanges extended warm congratulations to the virtual event, wishing that through the Story of Shenzhen project, the experts team can get fruitful findings on culture, creativity and urban innovation based on long history of human civilisation and targeting the trajectories of global urban development.

UN-Habitat’s project coordinator Yi Zhang introduced the four sections of this virtual experts meeting, led by Charles Landry, the creator of “Creative City.”  He gave an overview of Culture, Creativity and Urban Innovation topic and brought experts to the discussion on Trajectory of Urban Cultural Development in Sample World Cities, and Reflections on the current development: Culture Innovation, Connectivity and Interaction worldwide, and finally involved further experts, meeting participants into the open discussion on “What Next?”

The deliberations will serve as input to the final report of UN-Habitat “The Story of Shenzhen - Culture, Creativity and Urban Innovation” project.

Culture, Creativity and Urban Innovation: What Next?