Baguio named as PH’s first UNESCO Creative City

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced Baguio City as one of 64 cities to be included in the Creative Cities Network. The “Summer Capital of the Philippines” is the first city in the Philippines to be named a “Creative City” by the organization. 

In a statement, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said, “these new designations showcase an enhanced diversity in city profiles and geographical balance, with 19 cities from countries not previously represented in the Network.”

Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) aims to create environments that foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development. Furthermore, the UCCN was created to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

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Cities that want to be included in the UCCN undergo a rigorous process of application and accreditation, much like that of the World Heritage Sites list. Applicants must demonstrate and prove its capacity to support the development of creativity in their city. 

(READ MORE: 116 Creative Cities, One Global Creative Community)

Baguio now joins a network of more than 180 cities under the Crafts and Folk Arts category. The UCCN has seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature, and Music. 

The city is well known for its artistic heritage – from Cordilleran indigenous woven art, handicraft, wood carvings, to the contemporary works of homegrown artists BenCab and Kidlat Tahimik. 

Collaborative effort

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), along with The Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), launched the ASEAN Creative Cities Forum earlier this year as a thought leadership event which highlighted the experience of ASEAN Creative Cities that use creativity to drive economic growth, income, and employment. The forum also held a series of talks and panel discussions with the central theme of culture and art serving as driving forces for sustainable development and urban regeneration throughout the region. Furthermore, the event is a key initiative to push the membership of at least one Philippine city in the UCCN. 

(READ MORE: Everyone is Creative! John Howkins at the ASEAN Creative Cities Forum)

The newly-formed Creative Economy Council of the Philippines (CECP) is also a staunch partner from the private sector to help the government and industries develop policies to grow the country’s creative economy. The CECP also aims to put the Philippines in the top five creative economies in Asia-Pacific and first in the ASEAN region by 2030. 

The CECP, in partnership with the Bureau of Investments (BOI), is already working on a roadmap for the Philippine creative economy. 

(READ MORE: Can creativity drive inclusive economic growth?)

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