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Culture, Identity and Equity in World Cities
Findings from the 2019 World Cities Culture Summit, Lisbon

A month ago, 38 world cities came together in Lisbon to discuss, challenge and share ideas about culture and their cities’ urgent role under the theme: ‘Culture, Identity and Equity in World Cities’.

World cities are sites of significant change. Over the past two decades, patterns of migration from rural areas, between regions, and internationally, have become larger and more complex. Simultaneously, communities are displaced, fragmented and isolated by transforming urban landscapes and a loss of affordable residential and commercial space.

Change can result in unequal benefits and challenges across different communities. Both real and perceived differences can also amplify and lead to discrimination, exclusion, conflict and in turn, increased inequality.

Everyone agreed on a common agenda that it is the urgent role of city governments to ensure that there is a place for every citizen to belong in their city, and that culture can enable cities to reflect and support all of the people they represent.

Some key takeaways emerged:

1. Whose culture makes the city? It is critical to recognise, validate and support multiple, identities and memories that make up a city. We must acknowledge different understandings, different experiences, different types of knowledge and different world views in order to deliver public places for all.

2. Who should include who? Inclusive cultural policy is not just about extending access to existing cultural institutions and practices. It is about recognising and supporting the cultural practices and needs of groups and constituencies within the community, and co-producing culture.

3. Equality or equity? While our cities have a shared agenda, distinct approaches have emerged in diverse historical and social contexts. Equality-based policy recognises and respects differences, and strives to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities. Whereas Equity considers the degree to which everyone has the same opportunities to reach the same outcomes, and aims to ‘level up’ the uneven playing field accordingly.

The World Cities Culture Summit is an initiative of the World Cities Culture Forum. WCCF is convened by BOP Consulting, and is a network of senior policy-makers from 40 world cities providing global leadership on culture. WCCF members have a shared commitment to harnessing the power of culture to enhance urban policy and improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Download the full Summit brochure here.