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"UNESCO Creative Cities Network Conference, Seoul 2011" Held on Nov. 16-17
Seoul & Its New Mayor Embrace Urban Creativity
By Millicent Omollo
Staff Writer
Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon

A total of 41 cities from around the world took part in Seoul Conference of "UNESCO Creative Cities Network Conference" hosted by the Metropolitan Seoul City Administration from Nov. 16 to Nov. 17, 2011.

Nearly 1,000 representatives including mayors attended the conference held Seoul's COEX Intercontinental Hotel in Samsung-dong. This year's theme was "Sustainable Urban Development Based on Creativity."

Park Won-Soon, the new mayor of Seoul, presided as main host in the opening ceremony on Nov. 16, 2011.

UNESCO officials in attendance were Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO and Chun Taeck-Soo, Secretary-General of Korean National Commission for UNESCO.

Other officials who presided over the plenary session included Young Kim, president and CEO of INNODESIGN, Inc; John Rajchman, professor at Columbia University; Lee Soon-In, president of International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID); Rebecca Wurzberger; mayor pro tem of Santa Fe; Yun Young-Mi, director of Hankyoreh Media Company; Young Kim, president and CEO of INNODESIGN, Inc.

The event was organized by Seoul Design Foundation and sponsored and sponsored by Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in conjunction with Korea Tourism Organization and KIA Motors.

It was a conference organized to further strengthen network between cities and discuss ways for all cities to move forward together and to contribute to the prosperity of humanity as a whole.

The first session comprised of keynote speeches from Mayor Park and the UNESCO officials and finalized with the questions forum from the audience.

The second, plenary session comprised of speeches from mayors of different cities and other officials with an interest in urban development based on creativity.

Mayor Park noted that an idea could develop from anyone and eventually become a source of city development, thus the key factor of creative development according to him are exchanges, trust and collective thinking.

The two-day conference focused on seven thematic networks which could be chosen by the cities and according to their preference for a specific creative industry sector to which they would devote their talent .

These themes included: Literature, Cinema, Music, Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Media Arts and Gastronomy.

Lee Soon-In noted that 2.3 billion people live in the urban cities of the world and that the figure is expected to rise by the year 2050 to 6.4 billion, thus several things like eating, behaviour and architecture must be maintained, transformed and developed.

With support from other officials, he noted also that the younger generation needed to be given a chance to explore their creativity, explaining that "the younger generation has a huge capability of portraying development in relation to the time changes in their way, style and test through design."

He interpreted his idea using an acrostic of the word UNESCO, with U for Universal, N for Networking, E for Economics, S for Serviceability, C for Community, and O for Originality.

Mayors of the 41 cities around the world agreed to hold meetings regularly to foster cooperation to promote diverse cultural products and seek creative solutions for sustainable urban development.

This network was launched in 2004 and has provided member cities with opportunities to exchange ideas and foster creative urban development.

The next conference will be held in Montreal, Canada in 2012.

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