The 2020 Rome Charter is an unprecedented document promoted by Rome the Capital City, United Cities and Local Goverments (UCLG) and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo.

Designed to influence local governments' cultural policies and to fuel the global dialogue on cultural participation and human development, the document is based on the most effective and valid narratives relating to cultural rights and is a pledge to the citizens of Rome and of those cities that have let themselves be inspired or will let themselves be inspired in the future, to launch a new wave of cultural policies capable of interacting in a more direct and impacting manner with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Agenda 2030.

The process leading to the drafting of the Rome Charter kicked off in late 2019 thanks to a coordinated effort involving Rome the Capital City – Department for Cultural Development and the UCLG – Culture Committee. Formally launched in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project instantly attracted an astonishing amount of spontaneous support. Today over 45 cities throughout the world, 95 advisors and 40 networks are involved in it.

In May 2020 the Charter achieved its first public mention at the UCLG's Global Executive Bureau with over 100 mayors from all over the world. In November the UCLG's World Council wound up with the announcement of a Pact for the Future (resting on three axes: People, Planet and Government) which the UCLG will be setting up in 2021–22 and in which the Charter will hold a strong position.

In 2021 the Rome Charter 2020 will continue to pursue its journey of dissemination through dialogues, encounters and artistic practices inspired by it, which will all come together in the Charter's website.

The Charter aims to be the concrete manifestation of an approach taking its cue from Article 27 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which commits city administrations and cultural institutions to move towards the concrete implementation of that right and of the SDGs: making cultural life a necessary and fundamental condition for a fair and cohese society means fuelling a dialogue capable of interweaving both international and local experiences and areas of expertise.

The Rome Charter is published at a dark and uncertain time. The COVID-19 crisis showed that the current development models and their basic assumptions need to be rethought.
Culture is the ever-renewable, specifically human resource to which we have turned, and still turn today, during this emergency. It is in culture that we tell stories, make sense, dream and hope. It is culture that will shape the values and conduct of the cities we must renew after the trauma of COVID-19.

The Charter, written in simple and concise language in the course of a process lasting from March to October 2020 (download it here), identifies 5 interdependent and mutually supporting cultural capabilities, each one of which may appear to be more or less important at different moments, in different situations and to different people: Discover, Create, Share, Protect, Enjoy the city's cultural resources. The identification of five interdependent cultural capabilities provides a solid conceptual basis for addressing the issue of the relationship between the state and people in the sphere of cultural policies and planning.

Rather than a legal tool, this is a practical guide for sustainable cultural development. It consists of an opening statement, a section on "why" such a Charter is more necessary today than ever before and a practical user's manual that allows for the fact that the answers to the questions the Charter raises are going to be different in Mexico City, Cape Town, New Delhi and Rome, just as they are going to be different in cities with millions of inhabitants and in rural areas that count their population in thousands or even in hundreds. The common ground – the universal commitment – is in recognising that the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives – and in doing that, to leave no one behind.

In October 2020, the three-day Conference at the MACRO witnessed the participation of over 100 cities, 40 communities and international speakers from 138 countries all over the world in the course of 11 live sessions: despite the restrictions enforced by COVID-19, The Rome Charter 2020 was an international success. The conference was held in hybrid mode and attracted an audience of over 1.500 spectators.

Representatives of governments and institutions from such internationally symbolic cities as Barcelona, Bilbao, Brussels, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Geneva, Lisbon, Medellin, Mexico City, Rabat, Smirna and Washington interacted with Italian and international exponents from the worlds of culture, politics, business and the institutions discussing the five cultural capabilities listed in the Rome Charter, addressing specific issues associated with active cultural participation, an extension of the ways culture can be enjoyed, patronage and overcoming obstacles with a view to achieving increasingly inclusive and creatively shared urban realities.


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