The fourth edition of the UCLG Culture Summit, one of the most important international events of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), started as a hybrid event on September 9, 2021, hosted by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality. The Summit, attended by local government representatives working in the field of culture from different parts of the world, started with the session titled “Local Governments and Cultural Heritage.”

In the following session chaired by UCLG-MEWA Secretary General Mehmet Duman, the panelists were Zeynep Gül Ünal, Vice President International ICOMOS; Recep Gürkan, Mayor of Edirne; Evgeniya Lodvigova, Deputy Mayor of Kazan; Zhasur Azimov, Deputy Mayor of Osh; Navin Piplani from Intach; Rena Baledi from Malmö Culture Department; Carles Sanchez, Director of the Candidacy of the See of Ègara (Terrassa) to UNESCO World Heritage, and Marc Villarubias, Director of CO18-Cultural Objective 18.

Speaking at the opening session, Secretary General Duman emphasized that cultural heritage management should be multi-level and said that full coordination between local, national and international authorities should be ensured and local governments should be at the heart of heritage management.

On the same day which witnessed several parallel sessions, the session “The Cultural Power of UCLG’s Sections” was held under the moderation of Salim Korkmaz, UCLG-MEWA General Coordinator. The panelists speaking during the session were Mustapha Moufid, Director of Culture, Migration, Peace and Security Department at UCLG Africa; Rasikh Sagitov, Secretary General of UCLG Eurasia; Dmitry Polyanin, Chairman of the Culture Committee of the Volgograd; John Smithies, Director of the Cultural Development Network, and Eunhae Jung, General Director of Jeju’s Global Young Creatives Residency Programme.

At the “The Place of Culture in Voluntary Local Reviews” workshop, Samira Dhayat from Greater Amman Municipality talked about Amman’s VLR preparations and the role of culture in the VLR.

The 4th UCLG Culture Summit was launched by UCLG Secretary General Emilia Saiz.

The 4th UCLG Culture Summit, one of UCLG’s most important international organizations, was launched by the Secretary General Emilia Saiz.

During the opening session of the Summit hosted by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, Tunç Soyer, Mayor of Izmir, was the first speaker to take the floor. Soyer concluded his speech by emphasizing that “Culture encourages harmony with the past and the change. Let’s spread the seeds of culture from Izmir to the entire world.”

Afterwards, Uğur İbrahim Altay, Mayor of Konya and UCLG Co-President, who took the floor representing the UCLG World Organization, said, “In order to overcome the problems, we should engage more in collaborative working and thinking and exchange of good practices, and further develop culture between cities and our people.”

Delivering his remarks at the opening session, Ekrem Imamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul, said, “While drawing attention to the unifying and healing power of culture, we have to realize the importance of culture in the development of local democracy and economic development and build our future vision on this potential.”

Later, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, said that “Culture is a cross-cutting issue and therefore affects all dimensions of development. It is necessary to pay attention to the role of culture in sustainable development and attach the necessary importance to processes besides the results.”

In addition to the speakers above, Louisa Vinton, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, also participated in the session.

Following the opening session, Prof. Alim Işık, Mayor of Kütahya, joined the session “Cultural Diversity in the Creative Economy.” During his speech, Işık emphasized that the role of local governments in the sustainability of cultural economies is indisputable.”

UCLG Culture Summit, which is hosted by the MEWA Region and will also be the  launch event for UCLG-MEWA’s recent publications in the field of culture, continued with panel sessions and events.


The second day of the Summit, organized under the theme “Culture Shaping the Future” and hosted by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, continued with diverse panel sessions and events.

Goshtasb Mozaffari, Secretary-General of Asian Mayors Forum, participated as a panelist in the session on “Cultural Diplomacy: The Role of Cities and Local Governments in the International Cultural Cooperatıon” moderated by Onur Eryüce, Advisor to the Mayor.

During his speech, Mozaffari said, “Culture is like a floating iceberg in ocean waters. It has two parts: visible and invisible. We see the tangible part but it has more than this. Cultural diplomacy connects cities and adds value to them.”

Nicola Khamis, Mayor of Beit Jala and Co-President of the UCLG-MEWA Committee on Gender Equality participated as a panelist in the session “Promotıng Local Actions on Culture and Gender Equality.”

Khamis highlighted that “We should ensure that all of our strategies are employed to empower women in cultural, social, and political fields. Traditions and culture must not be barriers to women’s empowerment.”

In the following session titled “Culture and Sustainable Tourism,” Nidai Güngördü, Mayor of Kyrenia and President of UCLG-MEWA Committee on Culture and Tourism, said “Culture is the root of love, tolerance, and peace. It is very important to ensure the sustainability of cultural sustainable and establish its connection with tourism.”

In addition to this, within the scope of the Summit, UCLG-MEWA Committee on Culture and Tourism promoted its new book titled “Cultural Heritage Glossary in English-Turkish.”

At the closing plenary of the 2-day 4th UCLG Culture Summit, Mohamed Saadie, UCLG-MEWA President, underlined that “With the corona crisis, the value of culture has grown, as it has restored communities to their originality and provided an opportunity to reconnect with one’s roots despite all other challenges.”

The Summit ended with the adoption of the “Declaration of Izmir: Culture Shapes the Future of Humanity.”

You can access the declaration here.

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