The Opening Ceremony of the Forum took place on Monday evening (May 21) with over 900 persons in attendance. The agenda opened with speeches by high level officials, including the Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board, Ambassador Lee of ROK; Secretary General of the Changsha Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Hu; and UNESCO Beijing Office Director and Representative to China, DPRK, Japan, Mongolia and ROK, Ms. Marielza Oliveira. The audience was treated to a stunning cultural performance by youth from Changsha, showcasing different aspects of culture in this creative city.
On Tuesday, Forum discussions began with a High Level Panel discussing the theme of “Advancing Creativity for Development”. Mayors from the cities of York, UK; Enghien Les Bains, France; and the host city of Changsha, China, joined by Ms. Oliveira of the UNESCO Beijing Office on the panel, and shared cities strategies and programs for advancing creativity and creative industries especially with youth as the actors and beneficiaries. The panel also engaged in a lively questions and answers session with participants, noting that creativity is about the power of ideas and is needed to exploit the growth of cities; creativity is the motor of sustainable development; creativity is needed to transform traditional industries, productivity and life; that curiosity drives creativity and innovation; youth are a creative group; youth are the present – not the future; and youth can provide the vitality, ideas, and energy needed to help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
An accountability session ended the morning’s proceedings. During this, UNESCO reported on what has been done in follow-up to the commitments made at the first IYF in 2017, particularly in terms of promoting platforms for youth exchange and dialogue, and for capacity building. Eight youth who will participate in a three-week immersion programbeing generously sponsored by Changsha City, which will allow them to experience in-depth the creative and cultural heritage industries in Changsha,had the opportunity to introduce themselves to all IYF participants, and to give an overview of the projects on which they plan to work during the capacity enhancement program.
Following a visit to the P8 Innovation Laboratory in the afternoon, participants took a Xiang River cruise and were treated to a spectacular fireworks show, unique for combining traditional methods and media arts to produce the visual displays. On Wednesday the participants will discuss and make recommendations on how youth skills and competencies can be better harnessed in advancing creativity and heritage for development. They willthen fly onto the City of Nanjing in the evening, for the second leg of the International Youth Forum on Creativity and Heritage along the Silk Roads.