UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA) are launching an initiative to associate UNESCO with the designation of the host cities of the UIA World Congress as World Capitals of Architecture. UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone R., and UIA President Thomas Vonier signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Paris on 23 November 2018 to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations, which dates back to 1956.

UNESCO and the UIA have been at the forefront of the challenges of our time: mass urbanization, climate change and the need to preserve architectural heritage. The new Agreement between UNESCO and the UIA aims to extend the response to these challenges by developing opportunities through the mobilization of local and national governments, the media and communities.

As cities expand and develop at a rapid pace around the world, the initiative reflects the commitment of both organizations to promote urban issue, in line with Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

“UNESCO’s association with the UIA’s World Capital of Architecture initiative marks a new step in our long-standing partnership. The aim is to create new synergies between culture and architecture in an increasingly urban world, in which cities are hubs for ideas, trade, culture, science and social development in particular. Through this initiative, our ambition is to ensure that these cities are also perceived as open and creative spaces for exchange, invention and innovation,” said Ernesto Ottone R.

The city designated as World Capital of Architecture will become a global forum for discussion on the pressing challenges of our world, through the prisms of culture, heritage, urban planning and architecture. UNESCO, UIA and local institutions will organize activities and events to promote projects that will involve not only architects and urban planners, but professionals from related sectors as well.

“We want to highlight how architects, with the help of local governments and communities, can play a key role in identifying solutions that benefit communities,” said Thomas Vonier. “Connecting culture and architecture is essential to create inclusive, productive and sustainable cities and communities for all.”

Through this initiative, UNESCO and the UIA are joining forces to develop urban solutions for the benefit of future generations through culture.

*Photo: Christelle ALIX/UNESCO