Culture: a catalyst for sustainable development of Asian and European cities


International civil society experts from Asia and Europe emphasised the role of creativity and the arts as catalysts for innovation in cities.

Cities are increasingly acting as catalysts for culture-led urban development in Asia and Europe. Through people-centred policies, inclusive governance and speedy decision-making, cities are proving to be innovative hubs for creativity.

This message was at the core of the findings that emerged from the AsiaEurope Foundation (ASEF) 8th Public Forum on Creative Cities in Asia and Europe – Cities: Living Labs for Culture? held on 24 November 2015 in Gwangju, Korea, at the Asia Culture Center, the single largest cultural project in the history of Korea.

Over 15 experts from about 13 Asian and European countries gathered in Gwangju for this bi-regional dialogue and exchange. The participants included representatives of governmental bodies, researchers, and international civil society organisations, such as Google Cultural Institute and the Korean National Commission for UNESCO.


At the Official Opening, Mr. Mun in, Vice-Mayor of Gwangju city, Korea, announced that “the 7th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting will be held in 2016 in Gwangju. We believe that this forum will support the success of ´2016 ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting”.

ASEF Executive Director, Ambassador Zhang YANG, Ambassador Zhang highlighted on his speech that “cities are evolving fast as epicenters for effective policymaking, as they are often able to act quickly and offer more integrated responses. In light of these crucial debates on the future of cities, it becomes very important to exchange ideas and share good practices from across Asia and Europe.”

The publication, Cities: Living Labs for Culture? – Case Studies from Asia and Europe (2015, ASEF) was launched at the forum. It presents 27 case studies and 5 essays, which draw upon the experiences of 40 cities.

The report of the meeting will be widely disseminated in January 2016. Key messages from the forum will be presented at the 7th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM CMM7) in 2016 in Korea, organised in the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

The 8th ASEF Public Forum on Creative Cities in Asia and Europe – Cities: Living Labs for Culture? was co-organised by ASEF in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea; Gwangju Metropolitan City; the Asia Culture Forum; and the Asia Culture Center among others.