Over a year of public-private preparations for Macao’s application to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

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MACAO, November 1, 2017 – The designation of “Macao, China” as a new member city of UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in the field of Gastronomy comes after more than a year of preparation that involved Macao public and private sectors working together to support the application work.

Among all creative fields of the network, Gastronomy was selected as the creative area where Macao could seek to maximize more potential for sustainable urban development, in line with the network objectives, in order to preserve the city’s cultural identity, amid strong economic development, since cuisine is tied closely to culture and traditions, as well as tourism industry.

Preparation works for application initiated in 2015

In preparation for the 2017 UCCN Call for Applications, Macao SAR Government launched the procedures and related work by end of 2015. The application works received the support of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC and the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the Macao SAR. The local Tourism Development Committee, along with the European Oenogastronomic Brotherhoods Council and the China Cuisine Association also supported the application.

With the support from the Central Government and local stakeholders, in July 2016, an Application of Macao, China for the UCCN Committee (Macao’s Application Committee) was set up, led by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture to formulate directions for the application. Macao’s Application Committee included several working groups, with a total of 48 members from 18 entities, such as government departments, tourism tertiary institutions, related associations, catering industry, among others. Plenary and specialized working group meetings were held to discuss and work on the application work, with Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture entrusting Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) with the overall coordination.

Since then, Macao’s Application Committee representatives also visited six UCCN cities to exchange ideas with city representatives in support of the preparation process and participate in their international meetings. The cities included Beijing (China), Östersund (Sweden), Jeonju (Korea), Phuket (Thailand), Enghien-les-Bains (France) and Dénia (Spain). Study field visits were also carried out by MGTO to the two Creative Cities of Gastronomy in China – Shunde and Chengdu.

Surveys and meetings were conducted with various local stakeholder bodies to collect data and opinions, and actions were taken to raise public awareness of the potential of gastronomy as a driver for a city’s sustainable development.

In addition, Macao hosted the first edition of the “International Gastronomy Forum, Macao” in November last year. The forum gathered in Macao representatives from 16 Creative Cities of Gastronomy and one Creative City of Literature, along with experts and academics, for exchanges and to enable participants to experience the city’s gastronomical diversity and cultural heritage. At his  keynote speech at the event, the Secretary-General of National Commission of the People’s Republic China for UNESCO, Du Yue, showed his full support to Macao’s application.

Another important task accomplished in preparation for the candidature was the production of a Macao Gastronomy Website (www.gastronomy.gov.mo) featuring the city’s history, culture, festivities, cuisines, related videos and more. The website was launched in English last June to serve the application.

Macao becomes third Creative City of Gastronomy in China

After more than a year of preparation, Macao submitted the application to UNESCO Secretariat last June 14, under the name of “Macao, China”, with the endorsement of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO. The application was also supported with recommendation letters from the European Oenogastronomic Brotherhoods Council and the China Cuisine Association.

Following a vigorous evaluation process carried out by internal and external consultations with independent experts and the member cities of the network, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, designated on the early morning of November 1, Macao time, 64 new UNESCO Creative Cities, including eight new Creative Cities of Gastronomy.

Macao became the third city in China to join UCCN in the field of Gastronomy, after Chengdu and Shunde that entered the network in 2010 and 2014, respectively. The Creative Cities Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts.