Motivation for changes in Hanoi’s development

NDO – Hanoi has been recognised by UNESCO as a new member of its Network of Creative Cities.


From the perspective of a cultural expert, Assoc. Prf. Dr. Bui Hoai Son, who is also Director of the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, said that the capital must continue to do many things to take advantage and promote the strengths that the title brings about.

New philosophy for development

Q: Hanoi has joined as a member of UNESCO’s Network of Creative Cities. However, it is a relatively new concept for many Vietnamese people. Could you tell more about this network?

A: This is a major strategy launched by UNESCO to implement the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, UNESCO had an initiative to establish the Network of Creative Cities. As of October 31, UNESCO has recognised 66 new creative cities, including Hanoi, raising the total of designated cities around the world to 246. In Southeast Asia, Hanoi is the first capital city achieving the title, following Singapore. It is a great honor.

Q: Hanoi has celebrated the 20th anniversary of its title as ‘City for Peace’. What will the new title mean to the development of the special city?

A: After 20 years of its title as “City for Peace”, Hanoi is reassessing its vision. It is time for Hanoi to seek another brand. Becoming a member of UNESCO’s Network of Creative Cities, Hanoi will be motivated to make strategic changes in the coming years. From now on, the creative factors will be involved in the development orientations of the capital city, on the basis of a common philosophy: creativity. It will be a condition to unify all resources, creating a common power for the capital’s development.

Hanoi’s efforts over recent years, such as the commencement of the Smart City project, innovations in cultural and art events, and the designs of Nhat Tan bridge and Hanoi Museum, will be good premise for the development of creative activities in the coming time.

Q: In the registration for the title, Hanoi selected the ‘Design’ field as the main content. What do you think about this selection?

A: There are many ways to promote creative activities because Hanoi has many different strengths, particularly in the fields of cuisine, handicrafts and arts. However, the City’s leaders chose ‘design’. In my opinion, it was a visionary option of Hanoi authorities because a specific field could not cover the activities of other areas.

For example, if we choose cuisine, cinema and arts will not be promoted. Meanwhile, ‘design’ is involved in many areas, including arts, cuisine and handicrafts.

Q: However, will this wise choice become a challenge as many cities in the region and the world have also choose this direction?

A: This is a ground for concern and a controversial issue in the development of the application for recognition of the title for Hanoi. It would be simpler and easier to make the dossier if we chose cuisine or handicrafts. However, we cannot just look at reality but should have ambition a little bit beyond our capabilities so that we need to try harder.

Culture is a difference. We should not worry if Hanoi will become like Berlin or Paris. We need to pay attention to whether the capital city can embody the unique features of Vietnamese culture. I believe that Hanoi can do it.

Concretising action programmes

Q: Hanoi received the new brand as continuous incidents occurred. Even creative spaces, which were launched many years ago, are currently facing many obstacles and unexpected developments.

A: The development of creative activities in Hanoi is facing numerous issues. However, from my perspective, this is a matter of necessity. The development process always sees problems and lessons. I think that failures will be lessons that we need to overcome towards better results.

Hanoi is facing many difficulties in promoting creative hubs, typical examples for its development into a creative city. However, we are also temporarily satisfied with the doubled number of diversified creative spaces in the capital since 2014. They have brought many jobs for people as well as contributed to improving the city’s attraction.

Of course, we still have a lot of work to do, to support these creative spaces so that the messages of creativity and good things in life will be spread widely thanks to the creativity of artists and people.

Q: Hanoi still has a lot of work to do. You have accompanied the municipal authorities in building dossier for the title. In your opinion, what tasks does Hanoi need to focus on?

A: Firstly, it is essential to focus on raising public awareness of creative hubs for the capital’s development. Accordingly, the authorities should enhance the role of creativity and integrate creativity into all development strategies and specific actions. Creativity must be the most important factor.

In addition, more investment should be mobilised for creative activities. The relevant agencies need to set tax policies and regulations on legal status for creative spaces as well as provide other support so that creative spaces and ideas will become typical features for Hanoi.

Q: Which city has potential to register for the title of creative city following Hanoi?

A: We expect Hue to become a creative city in the field of cuisine.

Q: There are more and more proposals on setting titles for localities towards the exploration and promotion of tourist services such as suggestions for the ‘photography city’ brand. What do you think about that?

A: It is a fact that we’ve paid much attention to seeking titles but not promoting and taking advantage of the achieved titles. In my opinion, the reception of many titles has a positive meaning. However, we should focus on how to make the titles bring meaningful implications, rather than just trying to apply for titles.

Thank you very much for your interview!