Agencies, LAC Officials, Promote Culture and Resilience for Sustainable Cities and Tourism
UN Photo/Kibae Park
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UNESCO and the World Bank agreed to cooperate on urban development, resilience and cultural industries, including tourism.

Housing and urban development officials from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) called for urban development to be guided by national frameworks that promote inclusive, secure, resilient and sustainable cities.

The World Tourism Organization and partners are highlighting the potential for LDCs to develop tourism as a global export.

13 July 2017: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank have agreed to cooperate on urban development, resilience and cultural industries, including tourism. Housing and urban development officials from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have called for urban development to be guided by national frameworks that promote inclusive, secure, resilient and sustainable cities. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and partners are highlighting the potential for least developed countries (LDCs) to develop tourism as a global export.

UNESCO and the World Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 13 July, stating their intent to work together to achieve the urban dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The agencies will cooperate over the next six years on three areas of action: historic urban landscapes and urban regeneration; cultural and creative industries; and resilience and disaster risk management (DRM). Their focus will be on building global knowledge and providing policy guidance and emergency responses, working at the country level and in post-disaster and post-conflict situations. The MoU, which was signed during the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism, also highlights the potential for tourism and cultural industries to generate revenue and job growth.

At the signing of the MoU in Paris, France, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova noted the critical role of culture in countries’ ability to achieve the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, which was agreed at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) conference in October 2016. Sameh Wahba, World Bank, highlighted cultural heritage and sustainable tourism as economic drivers for poverty reduction and job creation.

The UNWTO report provides guidance on designing tourism to ensure its contribution to achieving sustainable development and fulfilling the SDGs.

On the same day, UNWTO launched a report, titled ‘Tourism for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries.’ The report calls for greater recognition of tourism as a service export. UNWTO highlights that tourism accounts for 7% of all international trade and 30% of the world’s services trade, and represents an important part of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) economy. The report provides guidance on designing tourism so that it contributes to sustainable development and fulfillment of the SDGs. The report also includes guidance on designing trade-related technical assistance to the tourism sector.

The UNWTO, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) are working together to provide help LDCs develop their own tourism sectors. Their work seeks to contribute to SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals), which includes a target to double LDCs’ share of global exports by 2020.

In late June 2017, housing and urban development ministers discussed implementation of the New Urban Agenda at the 26th General Assembly of Ministers of Housing and Urban Development of Latin America and the Caribbean (known by its Spanish acronym MINURVI), an intergovernmental forum currently chaired by Argentina. Ministers and senior officials at the meeting issued a Buenos Aires Declaration, which calls for advancing inclusive, secure, resilient and sustainable cities. The Declaration highlights the need for countries to have national frameworks to guide urban development, which should promote links between national, subnational and local levels of governments, and should be participatory in nature.

The Inter-American Development Bank supported the meeting, which convened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and had representation from 22 countries in the LAC region, as well as representatives from CEPAL and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). UN-Habitat Executive Director, Joan Clos, said there are no “fixed recipes” or answers to the region’s urban problems, but stressed the existing sets of strategies can contribute to generating jobs and wealth. [UNESCO Press Release] [UNESCO-World Bank MoU] [UN Press Release on WTO Report] [Publication Webpage] [UN-Habitat Press Release]

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