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UNESCO Charters and Sustainable Cities

Updated: May 16, 2023

UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has developed several charters aimed at promoting sustainable cities. These charters provide recommendations for member states on how to create livable, environmentally-friendly cities that prioritize the well-being of their citizens.


One of the most important UNESCO charters for sustainable cities is the "Agenda 21 for Culture", which was developed in 2004. This charter emphasizes the role of culture in sustainable development, stating that culture is a fundamental component of human development and that it should be integrated into urban planning processes.


Another key UNESCO charter is the "Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape", which was adopted in 2011. This charter recognizes the importance of historic cities and cultural heritage in creating sustainable cities. It recommends that member states develop policies and strategies to protect and promote their historic urban landscapes, while also ensuring that they are integrated into contemporary urban planning.


The "Global Action Plan on Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda" is another important UNESCO charter for sustainable cities. This charter focuses on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, both of which emphasize the need for sustainable urban development. It provides recommendations for member states on how to achieve sustainable urban development, including through the use of green infrastructure, sustainable transportation, and energy-efficient buildings.

New Urban Agenda Charter
New Urban Agenda


By following the recommendations within these UNESCO charters, Member States can benefit in several ways. First, they can create more livable, environmentally-friendly cities that prioritize the well-being of their citizens. This can lead to improved quality of life for residents, as well as increased economic opportunities and improved environmental sustainability.


Additionally, Member States that follow the recommendations within these charters can enhance their cultural heritage and promote their unique cultural identities. This can help to attract tourists and improve the overall reputation of the city, leading to increased economic growth and development.


UNESCO charters for sustainable cities provide valuable recommendations for Member States on how to create livable, environmentally-friendly cities that prioritize the well-being of their residents. By following these recommendations, Member States can benefit in several ways, including improved quality of life for residents, increased economic opportunities, and enhanced cultural heritage.

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