Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) fosters international cooperation across cities of the world that invest in culture and creativity as accelerators of sustainable development in the following seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music.
Exploring Creative Cities
Application Guidelines
  • General Principles
  • Guidelines for Applying
  • A Preparatory Timeline



The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to foster international cooperation within and across cities worldwide that utilize culture and creativity as a strategic lever for sustainable urban development. The Network brings together cities from all continents and regions with different geo-demographic, economic, social, cultural and environmental settings. They work together towards a common mission: placing culture and creativity at the core of their urban development plans to make cities safe, resilient, inclusive, sustainable and future-proof in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network is composed of cities committed to pooling their resources, experiences and knowledge for the common objectives set forth in the Network's Mission Statement, and to actively cooperating at the international level through inter-city partnerships. As a laboratory of ideas and innovative practices, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network brings a tangible contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through people-centered policy making as well as place-based projects and initiatives. The Network further brings forth cities' central role in sustainable development, highlighting the importance of the local dimension in the process, in line with UNESCO's programmatic priorities in the field of culture. As a follow-up to the adoption of the MONDIACULT 2022 Declaration at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development in September 2022, which reaffirmed culture as a "global public good", the Network is committed to supporting the systemic anchoring of culture in public policies at the local level through strengthened engagement and mobilization of local stakeholders and partners.




The Call for Applications is open to all cities of UNESCO's Member States and Associate Members.


UNESCO reserves itself the right to restrict the Call for Applications, by taking into account specific geographical or thematic priorities, and may limit the maximum number of designations. For the 2023 Call, a maximum of two applications from a same country, and in two different creative fields, can be eligible for designation. Moreover, applications from under-represented regions within the Network, especially those from Africa and the Arab States, will be encouraged in order to enhance the Network's geographic representation. The specific Cooperation Framework will be made available to cities from these two regions in the current Call (please refer to the Annex for further details on the Cooperation Framework). Cities that have submitted two consecutive unsuccessful applications to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, shall respect a moratorium of 4 years before presenting a new application. UCCN member cities recognize the importance of sustainable and inclusive urban development, and therefore commit to enhancing the contribution of culture and creativity to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The Call for Applications is open to cities of UNESCO's Member States and Associate Members.


Each application shall include, among other required documents, an official letter of intention signed by the Mayor of the city, as well as an official letter of support by the National Commission for UNESCO concerned.


For the 2023 Call for Applications, a maximum of two applications in two different creative fields from a same Member State or Associate Member can be submitted. Consequently, the National Commission concerned can endorse a maximum of two applications in two different creative fields from the country.


In order to strengthen the geographical representation of the Network, please note that the Cooperation Framework specifically targeting applicant cities from Africa and Arab States, which are currently underrepresented within the Network, is being continued for the 2023 Call. Please refer to the Annex hereto.




A city may be designated as a UNESCO Creative City based on its assets and capacity in culture and creativity, but also on the content, impact and outreach of its proposed action plan.It shall also demonstrate its potential contribution to the Network's overall vision and objectives, as well as its commitment to UNESCO's mandate and priorities, including that of promoting cooperation, solidarity and dialogue at all levels, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The Director-General of UNESCO is responsible for the designation of the cities in conformity with the guidelines set out below, following an internal technical pre-screening and an external evaluation by:


(i) UNESCO-designated independent experts specialized in the seven creative fields covered by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and other cultural and creative sectors,and/or in urban development;


(ii) The member cities that are representative of the seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music.


The UNESCO designation indicates recognition of the quality, relevance and feasibility of the strategy and the proposed action plan outlined in the application to implement the objectives of the Network.


Applications shall focus primarily on the chosen creative field among the seven creative fields covered by the Network. Applicant cities are nevertheless also encouraged to address other creative fields covered by the Network, highlighting existing and/or potential synergies between them.


Applicant cities must commit to the implementation of all the objectives laid out in the Network’s Mission Statement, as well as respond to all the criteria set out below, which will be used to guide the evaluation process:


(1) Motivation for the application and the primary development opportunities and challenges to be met, global development vision, strategies and policies as well as expected impact of the designation (Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Application Form):


– Demonstrated commitment of the applicant city to helping achieve the Network's objectives, at both the local and international level;


– Existing development strategies and policies that strengthen the role of culture and creativity in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;


– Coherence of the objectives and priorities of the applicant city with the objectives and fields of action of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network; and


– Expected mid- and long-term impacts of the designation on the sustainable development of the city.


(2) Process for preparing the application (Section 9 of the Application Form):


– Demonstrated involvement of the municipality in the design and preparation of the application and in the potential implementation of the proposed strategy and action plan in case of designation;


– Association of public, private and civil society stakeholders on a common project supported by the city; and


– Participation of the local creative sector concerned (creators, professional organizations, cultural enterprises, etc.) in the design and preparation of the application.


(3) Comparative assets that the applicant city would bring to the Network (Section 10 of the Application Form):


– Existence, at the time of application, of a development strategy or actions and initiatives aimed at strengthening the role of culture and creativity in the socioeconomic development of the city and in urban regeneration;


– Historical importance and role of the creative field concerned for the applicant city as well as the field's contemporary economic and social context;


– Potential contribution of the cultural and creative assets of the applicant city, particularly in the creative field concerned, towards achieving the Network's objectives;


– Expertise of the city in organizing local, national and/or international fairs, conferences, conventions, exhibitions and other activities aimed at professionals and experts, as well as the general public;


– Quality, diversity and impact of mechanisms set up to promote creativity, arts education, professional training, capacity building and research in the creative field concerned;


– Existence and/or development of cultural facilities and infrastructures aimed at professionals and the general public dedicated to the practice, production, promotion and dissemination of cultural activities, goods and services in the creative field concerned;


– Quality, relevance and impact of programmes to foster greater participation in cultural life, especially those aimed at disadvantaged or vulnerable groups of society;


–Capacity to involve main professional organizations and non-governmental organizations representing civil society in realizing the proposed plan of action;


–Scope, quality and diversity of the international cooperation initiatives developed by the city in the creative field concerned;


–Quality, impact and innovative nature of the policies and measures implemented to support the creation and growth of dynamic local cultural and creative industries,notably in the creative field concerned; and


–Experience in local and international development of cross-cutting projects creating synergies between the creative field concerned and other creative fields covered by the Network.


(4) Contributions to achieving the objectives of the Network (Section 11 of the Application Form):


–Fostering and making use of the principal cultural and creative assets of the city in the proposed action plan;


–Relevance, coherence and feasibility of the proposed action plan in terms of achieving the Network's objectives at local and international level;


–Scope, quality, diversity and innovative approach of the initiatives proposed in the action plan to achieve the Network's objectives at both local and international level;


–Inclusion of inter-city cooperation initiatives involving cities from the global south;


–Capacity to create synergies between the creative field concerned and other creative fields of the Network;


–Adequacy, feasibility and sustainability of the funding strategy and the proposed budget;


–Establishment of a specific structure to manage and execute the action plan involving stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society; and


–Quality and relevance of the communication and awareness-raising plan regarding the Network and the impact of the proposed action plan, aimed at attracting the interest of a broad public.


The designated cities must commit to submitting the quadrennial Membership Monitoring Report. This exercise ensures their full engagement and active contribution to achieving the Network's objectives and UNESCO's mandate and priorities, as well as to promoting the exchange of information and good practices between member cities. The information collected through the monitoring exercise will also contribute to the comprehensive Global Report on Cultural Policies to be developed in line with the MONDIACULT 2022 Declaration, which will help support evidence-based global advocacy for culture in the international post 2030 agenda.



To become a member of the UCCN, applicant cities must submit an application that clearly demonstrates their assets, commitment and capacity to contribute to the Network's objectives through the implementation of the city's action plan proposed in the application.


These guidelines are intended to assist applicant cities in developing and completing the Application Form.




In the preparation of an application to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, it is highly advised that applicant cities carefully consider the following factors:


▪ Participatory process: the preparation and formulation of the application must be led by the municipality and should result from a participative process involving relevant stakeholders and partners of the public and private sectors as well as civil society.


▪ Forward-looking approach: the cultural heritage and current creative assets of the applicant city should be the pillars to build a consistent and progressive action plan, which contributes to the sustainable urban development of the city in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 


▪ Inclusive sustainable development: UNESCO Creative Cities foster sustainable urban development building on culture and creativity as levers to achieve development goals. In this context, when formulating their activities and programmes of the action plan, applicant cities are required to demonstrate their engagement to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development notably at the city level, building on an inclusive and transversal approach encompassing the economic, social and environmental dimensions.


▪ Long-term commitment: cities should take note that the designation as a UNESCO Creative City implies a continuous and active commitment towards UNESCO’s value and mandate, as well as the implementation of the UCCN's objectives as outlined in the Mission Statement. In particular, applicant cities must be committed to preparing and consistently implementing their action plans, regularly reporting on their achievements through the quadrennial Membership Monitoring Report, actively participating in the UCCN Annual Conferences, as well as supporting and contributing to activities undertaken by UNESCO and the UCCN Secretariat through direct participation and/or voluntary contributions, amongst others.


▪ Sustainable action plan, capacities and resources: the application should include a proposed strategy for the city, accompanied by a four-year action plan setting out specific projects and initiatives at the local and international level to be implemented following the possible designation. The action plan should also provide detailed indications of priorities, capacities and resources (both financial and human). The expected outcome and impact of the proposed initiatives and projects to be undertaken by the city (if designated) will be subject to an evaluation through the aforementioned monitoring and reporting process.


▪ Exchanges and cooperation: exchanges among member cities are critical for the development, reinforcement and credibility of the Network. It is therefore important for applicant cities to demonstrate both their commitment and capacities to develop collaborative activities and initiatives at the national, regional and international level with UNESCO and other UCCN member cities.




Who should be involved in the application process?


The city should first establish a management/coordination team within the municipality or designate a specific department, centre or entity in charge of developing the application. A focal point should be designated, acting as the liaison person with UNESCO. This team will be ultimately responsible for drafting the application. In case of designation, the team along with a representative of the municipality may also be responsible for carrying out the day-to-day management of activities related to the Network.


Although the application must be led by local public authorities, it should also reflect wide stakeholder consultation and support across the city and genuinely speak on behalf of the communities concerned, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society of the city. It is therefore important to elaborate the application in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders and actors such as creators, professionals from the cultural and creative industries, universities and academia, policy makers, youth leagues, non-governmental organizations and associations, as well as different relevant public authorities or departments in the areas of culture, education, social affairs, economic development, urban infrastructure, communication, planning, etc.


Once relevant stakeholders have been identified, it is strongly advised to establish a consultative group that will support the preparation of the application. Such a consultative group can be made up of a diverse range of stakeholders and actors, including high-level representatives from the municipal government, representatives from civil society, cultural practitioners and producers, key operators of the creative sector, and other related professional associations and organizations. 


Sequence for preparing an application


When adapting this proposed sequence to an applicant city's context, please consider the following issues:


▪ Drafting and submitting an application can take longer than anticipated. Adequate time needs to be dedicated to the preparation phase, the constitution of a management team and the consultative group.


▪ The management team and the focal point should start by reading carefully the UCCN Mission Statement, Application Form and the present Application Guidelines. Additional information on the Network and its activities is available on the website:


▪ It is important to ensure an active participation of all the relevant local stakeholders and actors to reinforce engagement and ownership of the process. It also serves to gather the necessary information on the cultural assets, experiences and expertise of the city, sketch out the main lines of the city’s vision, strategy and action plan.


Filling the Application Form


Applications must be submitted using the official 2023 Application Form available on the UCCN website. The standard Application Form is prepared by the Secretariat of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and shall not be altered in any way. Applicant cities should only use this standard form for submitting their application.


Please note, a word limit has been set in each section of the Application Form. Therefore, it will not be possible to enter additional text once the limit is reached. Applicant cities can use the 'Word Count' function to keep track of the word limit.


All the sections of the Application Form must be completed to be considered complete and valid.


Applicant cities are encouraged to provide relevant information following the instructions provided in the Application Form. The information provided should not be repeated across different sections unless it is relevant to the concerned sections. It is thus important to note that providing irrelevant information is strongly discouraged.


Applicant cities should provide brief answers to each section and avoid a simple listing of activities, initiatives or infrastructures. Information provided should be updated and relevant in order for the evaluators to assess the city's cultural and creative assets as well as the feasibility and potential of its proposed action plan.


In case the applicant city has no relevant information related to a particular section or field, the city is requested to enter the following phrase "No relevant information to provide" for the part concerned.


The application must be consistent and succinct, and written in clear and fluent English or French. Applications submitted in other languages will not be taken into consideration. When neither of the working languages is familiar to the team/person drafting the application, we recommend writing the application in a native language and then translating the final version through a certified translator. Poorly translated applications may lead to confusion in the evaluation phase.


The application must be submitted via email to, with the subject: "2023 Application of [name of the applicant city]". This email must include the following attachments:


(i) A complete list of all the documents included in the application file;


(ii) The completed formal 2023 Application Form in its standard Word format (.doc) available on the UCCN's website;


(iii) A formal letter of intention from the Mayor of the applicant city presenting the candidature and the support of the municipality;


(iv) A formal letter of support of the candidature from the National Commission for UNESCO of the country in which the city is located;


(v) Two formal letters of support from active main national professional associations in the creative field concerned;


(vi) Three photos of the applicant city closely related to the creative field concerned (JPEG, max. 3MB each); and


(vii) The form "Cession of Rights and Register of Photos", which is annexed to the Application Form, dully filled for each of the three respective photos.


NOTE: There is no form or precise format requirements for the above-mentioned letters. However, it is recommended that they should be brief (no longer than 2 pages each) and that they clearly indicate the main reasons of the signatory's full support to the application. The total size of the email with all required attachments included must not exceed 30MB.


No other document or attachment will be accepted and considered in the evaluation process. A maximum of 2 URL links to related websites may be included in the Application Form, providing additional information about the city and/or the creative field concerned (please refer to the Form). The applicant city is also encouraged to provide information related to social media handles for the city (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). 


Applications that are not received in the required standard format, as well as those that are incomplete and/or received after the above-mentioned deadline will not be considered.


UNESCO will not be responsible for the late delivery of submissions due to the lack of anticipation or possible technical difficulties (such as due to the size of the attachments). It is the sole responsibility of the applicant cities to ensure that submissions are received by the Secretariat on time. Please note that a strict deadline is applied with no exceptions made. An acknowledgement of receipt will be sent to the applicant city through email once the UCCN Secretariat receives the submitted application file.


For the 2023 Call for Applications, a set of tutorials has been updated to assist applicant cities to better understand the UCCN application process. These tutorials provide a comprehensive overview of: i) the objectives of the Network; ii) the main activities of the Network; and iii) what a UNESCO Creative City is; amongst other significant issues closely related to the Network. 


Applicant cities are highly encouraged to go through these tutorials before commencing the application the preparation. The video tutorials can be accessed using the following link: 2023 Call for Applications | Creative Cities Network ( 

A Preparatory Timeline_fororder__cgi-bin_mmwebwx-bin_webwxgetmsgimg__&MsgID=3953126390799051470&skey=@crypt_9a92517d_958f964710b38d86e529357980400c40&mmweb_appid=wx_webfilehelper