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Three Philippine cities have achieved a significant milestone by becoming part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Iloilo City recently made history by being declared the first-ever Philippine city to earn the title of a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Iloilo’s achievement followed the earlier designations of Baguio as a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2017 and Cebu as a Creative City of Design in 2019.
But what exactly is the UCCN, and why is this achievement such a big deal for the Philippines?
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network, established in 2004, aims to promote international collaboration among cities for sustainable development. Given that seven in ten people in developing countries are projected to reside in urban areas by 2050, the network seeks to harness the power of culture and creativity to achieve this goal.
UNESCO selects cities for membership based on their innovative and strategic approaches to initiatives that have positive social, cultural, economic, and environmental impacts. These initiatives fall into seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music. The recent inclusion of 55 new cities brings the total UCCN membership to 350 cities from over 100 countries.
Member cities collaborate with civil society, public and private sectors to achieve six key objectives, including strengthening international relations, nurturing cultural goods and services, promoting creativity-oriented initiatives, and incorporating culture and creativity into sustainable development plans.
With Baguio, Cebu, and Iloilo joining the network, the Philippines gains a global platform to showcase its diverse creative talents and innovations, ensuring that Filipino ingenuity continues to shine internationally.