The Creative Youth as the Bridge Towards the Future

Culture plays a crucial role in connecting communities and defining humanity. In fact, the EU’s Rome Declaration of 2017 recognises culture as a key component for Europe’s future and, similarly, in 2010, the Mexico City Declaration by the United Cities and Local Governments Organization stressed the importance of including culture as the fourth pillar in the global sustainable development model. This statement acknowledged that focusing solely on economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental balance was insufficient to fully encompass the complexities of modern society (OECD, 2018: 7).

Furthermore, the importance of culture and creativity as facilitators for sustainable urban development has gained increasing recognition globally, especially after the adoption of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, which marked the first time that culture was integrated into the international development agenda (UNESCO & World Bank, 2021: 29).

What role can culture play in sustainable development?

Moreover, growing research highlights the positive impact of culture on a variety of policy areas, including urban regeneration, citizens’ health and well-being, equality, social unity, education, and youth (OECD, 2018: 9). Thus, since then, policymakers and practitioners have been promoting an agenda that prioritises supporting the growth of a strong foundation for the cultural sector, which encompasses heritage, creativity, cultural industries, crafts, and cultural tourism (OECD, 2018: 13).

What is more, in a world increasingly polarised by the confrontation of narratives, belief systems and lifestyles, cultural awareness emerges as an essential element for fostering democracy, as well as enhancing active citizenship and intercultural dialogue. In this line, the creative economy offers a solution to adapt to rapidly changing economies and societies.

The power of creative economy

The creative economy is a model of economic development and innovation where value creation is derived from transforming creative ideas into products or services (Fachinelli et al, 2014: 5617). The creative industries, including a wide range of activities such as the visual and performing arts, audio-visual, advertising, photography, architecture, fashion design, R&D, software, and electronic publishing, are essential for economic growth, job creation, and international trade (Rodríguez-Insuasti et al, 2022: 2). The creative economy enhances job skills and qualifications, provides career opportunities in the arts, culture, and sciences, and advances social inclusion. In addition, the creative economy changes the environment in which people aspire to live, work, and study, as well as where they think, invent, and create (UNESCO & World Bank, 2021: 29), and Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) are at the heart of the creative economy.

CCIs domains are the Audio-visual and Interactive Media; Literature and Press; Performing Arts; Visual Arts and Crafts; intangible cultural heritage; Design and Creative Services; and Heritage and Tourism Activities (UNESCO & World Bank, 2021: 30).

As mentioned, the CCIs are a crucial platform for cities to tackle the challenges they face and will continue to face, such as the ongoing global health crisis, economic recession, climate change, population growth, and social conflict; this being particularly significant in cities where urbanisation exacerbates these challenges for young people. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the need for cities to facilitate cultural and creative expression and production. Therefore, we need to recognise the youth as a crucial part of this reality; moreover, young people are particularly impacted by development challenges, frequently encountering high rates of unemployment, limited access to education and professional training, economic instability, and crises, among other issues.

Youth as agents of change in the cultural and creative industries

Emphasizing creativity and promoting the creativity of young individuals must be a top priority in our agendas in order to address many current issues. Young people worldwide are more and more engaged in preserving and promoting their heritage, recognising that it does not only represent the past, but it is also part of their identity. Youth can act as a bridge between cultures and serve as key agents in promoting peace and intercultural understanding (UN, 2013: 2).

In this direction, our project Escape Rooms for the Cultural and Creative Industries appreciate youth’s role as vital actors and partners, instead of recognising them as simple beneficiaries or target groups (UN, 2013: 5), and proposes an initiative in which to enhance youth’s entrepreneurship by implementing a gamified training program through the use of Escape Rooms (ERs), with which we expect to provide a fun and interactive framework for young people and CCI trainers, ultimately leading in an increased engagement and success in the field.

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Fachinelli, A.C., Carrillo, F.J., D’Arisbo, A. (2014). Capital system, creative economy and knowledge city transformation: Insights from Bento Gonçalves, Brazil, Expert System with Applications, 41(12), 5614–5624.

OECD. (2018). The Value of Culture and the Creative Industries in Local Development.

Rodríguez-Insuasti, H., Montalván-Burbano, N., Suárez-Rodríguez, O., Yonfá-Medranda, M., & Parrales-Guerrero, K. (2022). Creative Economy: A Worldwide Research in Business, Management and Accounting. Sustainability, 14(23), 1-27. MDPI Sustainability.

UN. (2013). Culture as a vector for youth development.

UNESCO & World Bank. (2021). Cities, culture, creativity: leveraging culture and creativity for sustainable urban development and inclusive growth.


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