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Symposium On Culture Places Culture-Inks in The Mainstream of Sustainable Rural-Urban Development Linkages




Posted: 08 October 2019

SALGA in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation, Tshwane University of Technology and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) hosted a Symposium on Culture and Sustainable Rural-Urban Development to place culture-IKS in the mainstream of sustainable rural-urban development linkages.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 marked a turning point by reflecting for the first time the global community’s recognition of the role of culture for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Therefore, the Symposium seeks to engage on culture-led, people-centred, age and gender-responsive and integrated approaches to urban and territorial sustainable development. It is held to instil awareness on the centrality of culture, Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in the quest for sustainable rural-urban development; and to stimulate a discourse on fostering spatial equity as a priority inequitable rural-urban development in South Africa.

In his opening address Acting Portfolio Head for Infrastructure Delivery, Spatial Transformation & Inclusive Communities, Mr Sabelo Gwala, explained “culture as an expression of one’s heritage” as it cannot be observed with a naked eye. Gwala further differentiated heritage from culture stating that “it is how one values where they come from.”

Culture has not only become increasingly important in the last decade but has taken centre stage in narratives of sustainable rural-urban development. As a result, cultural policies are no longer developed in isolation, but in partnership with other relevant stakeholders and cognisance of other policies for the sake of sustainable development.

Prof. Giulio Verdini from the University of Westminster said: “There is a real turn in agendas in the issue of culture." The shift that has placed culture on the urban agenda recognises that culture and cultural diversity are sources of enrichment for humankind and provide an important contribution to the sustainable development of cities, human settlements and citizens.

When integrating policies to strengthen rural-urban linkages the interpretation of small settlements should be beyond their size. Look at their function in the extended networks and understanding their rural-urban linkages.

Prof. Khumbulani Mpofu from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) said that technologies not only need to be advanced for rural community development, but citizens should be trained on how to maintain and monitor them. This practice will create smart villages made of manufacturer instead of outsourcing the services from other countries.

When developing a community it is vital to study the setting of the area. For integrated policies to be harmonious in their territorial development they need to be beyond physical connections and focus on culture, knowledge, and local authority. Consequently, the revolution and evolution of digitisation and smart cities through urbanisation should not be seen as a threat to undermine sustainable development in rural areas, but be viewed as an opportunity to roll out the premier smart rural village model in rural areas.
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