Launched in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Project aims to promote cooperation between cities around the world whose common characteristic is the use of creativity to promote sustainable urban development. The UNESCO 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on us to imagine more sustainable, more human, more creative cities. The network covers seven creative areas: handicrafts and folk arts, design, cinema, literature, media, music and gastronomy.
In our changing world, the designation is significant. It is official recognition that Launceston and Northern Tasmania have become one of the great food regions around the globe. It is an opportunity for us to raise our international profile, increase visitation and further our export connections.
It is also an opportunity for us to participate in the conversations around the challenges of sustainability that the world now faces. While here in Northern Tasmania we have much to be grateful for, no one has all the answers. Our membership of the Creative Cities network across 72 countries is an opportunity for us to learn from others, and do our part in contributing to the making of a better world.
You can see a short video on the UNESCO Creative Cities Network here.
In November 2021 Launceston was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, one of only 49 around the world.
Sometimes you need an outsider to tell you just how special you are.
The bid to be recognised as a City of Gastronomy was developed by the Creative Cities Steering Group, whose members represent industry, community, local government, educational and regional organisations. The bid was enabled by funding from the University of Tasmania and the Great Regional City Challenge and contributions in kind from organisations such as FermenTasmania. It was well-supported across the food community because it confirms something that has been emerging here anyway – the identity of this region, including the city at it’s centre, as a great food region of the world.
To be approved as a City of Gastronomy, cities need to meet a number of criteria: 1) a well-developed gastronomy that is characteristic of the urban centre and/or region, 2) a vibrant gastronomy community with numerous traditional restaurants and/or chefs, 3) use indigenous ingredients used in traditional cooking 4) possess local know-how, traditional culinary practices and methods of cooking that have survived industrial/technological advancement, 5) possess traditional food markets and traditional food industry, 6) have a tradition of hosting gastronomic festivals, 7) show respect for the environment and promotion of sustainable local products and 8) as a community nurture public appreciation, promotion of nutrition in educational institutions and inclusion of biodiversity conservation programmes in cooking schools curricula.
The designation effectively formalises an identity for our city and region that is exciting, accessible, internationally relevant, resilient, and most importantly, something everyone in Launceston and Northern Tasmania can be proud of. Food touches us all.
Launceston Gastronomy grew out of the Creative Cities Steering Group. By building local, national and international connections, and now through becoming a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, we aim to share our expertise in areas such as fermentation. Learnings from the Creative Cities Network will help our region build the creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, diversity, and inclusion essential to a vibrant and prosperous food system. Four foundational areas will be the focus of our work, and you can read more about that here.