Stockholm+50: Culture as an enabler for sustainable urban development

On 2–3 June 2022, the UN High Level Meeting Stockholm+50 was held, co-hosted by Sweden and Kenya. During the meeting, White Arkitekter invited an international crowd to a conversation on the power of culture when creating sustainable cities and communities – in a global context.

Stockholm+50 commemorates the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. By recognising the importance of multilateralism in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution – the international meeting aims to drive action towards a healthy planet for the prosperity of all. The ambition was to contribute to an increased pace in the transition to sustainable and green societies, more jobs and a balanced environment.

During Stockholm+50, White Arkitekter invited international guests to a conversation on how culture can be an enabler in sustainable development and urban planning. During the conversation, two award-winning and acclaimed projects were presented; The GoDown Arts Center in Nairobi which has been acknowledged at the World Architecture Festival (WAF), an architectural prize competition often called “the World Cup in architecture”, and Sara Cultural Center, celebrated as ”Best Architecture of the Year” by The Guardian in 2021.

The GoDown Arts Centre is Kenya’s leading platform for cultural exchange.

Sara Cultrual Centre positively contributes to the local community and is an international showcase for sustainable design and construction. Image: Visit Skellefteå

Participants in the conversation included Joy Mboya, CEO and Founder of The GoDown Arts Center, and Fransesca Quartey, acting CEO of the Västerbotten theater company.

– An inspiring dialogue across the continents of Africa, Americas and Europe shows we are dealing with same challenges, slightly different amplitudes but most importantly we learn a lot from each other when sharing our different experiences, says Carl Bäckstrand, Deputy CEO at White Arkitekter.

The idea of coming together on this eve of Stockholm+50 was to bring two very contemporary projects to the table; GoDown in Nairobi and Sara Kulturhus in Skellefteå, mirroring the co-hosting countries of Stockholm+50 Kenya and Sweden, but also reflecting on the cultural scene in Stockholm that took a step forward in 1972 thanks to the newly opened Stockholm House of Culture.
Carl Bäckstrand, Deputy CEO at White Arkitekter

– In Europe we have just seen the launch of New European Bauhaus where culture and architecture play the central role in implementing a green transition. This shows how culture is an enabler to the sustainability agenda and without listening carefully we will have big problems to stay within the planetary boundaries. This was a message from not only the roundtable discussion but also from some plenaries at Stockholm+50, says Carl Bäckstrand, Deputy CEO at White Arkitekter.

Contact Person

Carl Bäckstrand

Carl Bäckstrand

Architect, Deputy CEO


+46 8 518 365 52

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