Friday 31st October 2020 marked World Cities Day

David WilsonBradford, Collaborative, Network

Friday 31st October 2020 marked World Cities Day – a number of events took place around the world to commemorate the role cities play in many aspects of life from sustainable development to responses to the current pandemic.


The Theme for 2020 was World Cities Day: Value communities, today and for the future

For World Cities Day 2020, held under the global theme “Valuing our communities and cities”, UNESCO, in the framework of its Cities Platform, organised an online event on ‘Community-centred urban development: A paradigm of inclusive growth’, on Friday, 30 October.

The event highlighted by an ‘Urban Dialogue’ brought together speakers from academia, the public and private sectors, and civil society to further discuss the essential role of communities in building sustainable and resilient cities.

Watch the event in English:


The UK is home to 11 UNESCO Creative Cities

There are 11 UNESCO Creative Cities in the UK across five artforms – literature, film, music, design, and media arts. Their work supports local communities and creates international opportunities, with an estimated £24 million in economic value to the UK.

The cities form part of a larger global network made up of 246 member cities spanning seven artforms, with a UK city being the founding member of the Network.

The UK has world firsts in Literature and in Film

The world’s first UNESCO City of Literature was founded in 2004 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the world’s first UNESCO City of Film was designated in 2009 in Bradford, England.

The concept of a ‘City of Literature’ was devised in Edinburgh and taken to UNESCO, with Edinburgh as the founding city of the Creative Cities Network.


Bradford has recently celebrated 10 years as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film (2019) and has been instrumental in helping other cities attain the UNESCO designation. There are now 18 UNESCO film cities across the world

Bradford UNESCO City of Film continue to develop initiatives at a local and an international level to ensure that the designation continues to contribute towards the sustainable development goals: enhancing and promoting community development through a thriving community cinema network / encouraging learning and critical thinking through film and media literacy programmes in schools / supporting professional development through the work of the Bradford Film Office / providing strategic leadership for the film cities cluster at a global level by hosting the UNESCO Film Cities online forum / supporting ongoing development of further and higher education in the screen sectors / supporting the UK Commission to UNESCO

David Wilson – Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film and expert advisor to the UK Commission for UNESCO on the development of Creative Cities said; World Cities Day gives us a chance to reflect on the work undertaken in cities around the world to address the challenges we all face. This year in particular is like no other as cities and citizens around the world continue to grapple with the pandemic. There has never been a stronger message on World Cities Day than that of valuing communities today for the future. Through the work we are doing with other cities in the UK and across the world we take comfort that we are not alone in our approach to these challenges and that culture and creativity continue to play a key part in the ongoing sustainable development of cities.


Designations marking Excellence in Design, Film, Literature, Music and Media Arts

Bradford, UNESCO City of Film since 2009 –

Bristol, UNESCO City of Film since 2017 –

Dundee, UNESCO City of Design since 2014 –

Edinburgh, UNESCO City of Literature since 2004 –

Exeter, UNESCO City of Literature since 2019 –

Glasgow, UNESCO City of Music since 2008 –

Liverpool, UNESCO City of Music since 2015 –

Manchester, UNESCO City of Literature since 2017 –

Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature since 2012 –

Nottingham, UNESCO City of Literature since 2015 –

York, UNESCO City of Media Arts since 2014 –


UK part of a Global Network working to Transform the World

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network has 246 members worldwide (11 in the UK) working across seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music.

Together they are implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the General Assembly in the 2030 Agenda. Through approaching these goals, the cities are working to help transform the world, having identified creativity and innovation as key drivers in creating more sustainable and inclusive urban developments.


Community development – Professional development – Sustainable development

Today, more than half of humanity – 3.9 billion people – lives in cities. By 2050, cities will host 2.5 billion more urban dwellers, making the world almost 70% urban.

By joining the Network, cities acknowledge their commitment to sharing best practices, developing partnerships that promote creativity and the cultural industries, strengthening participation in cultural life, and integrating culture in urban development plans.

The Network further commits to supporting the United Nations frameworks, particularly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.