Seven Keys: Collaborating Towards Cultural Policies to Localize the SDGs in African Cities


Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, is a city of between 650 000 to 1,5m people, the 2nd largest municipality in Zimbabwe. The City of Bulawayo, and its civil society partner Nhimbe Trust/Bulawayo Cultural Affairs Office were the hosts of the first Seven Keys workshop on 10 December 2020. The workshop approach, designed by the Committee on Culture of UCLG, for cities, local and regional governments all around the world, seeks to integrate the cultural dimension in the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The process works with local development challenges faced by a municipality linking it to their cultural assets, activities, and policies with the lens of the Guide for Local Action on Culture in the SDGs (UCLG, 2018). The “Seven Keys” represent concrete commitments local actors make to localize SDGs through culture policymaking based on their specific conditions. 

The 8 keys relate to themes of economic development, education, environment and youth, and are strongly linked to tangible and intangible heritage:

  1. Art therapy and well-being for children and elderly
  2. Indigenous fruit tree planting 
  3. Mainstreaming the gender policy within Bulawayo’s arts ecosystem
  4. Masiyephambili: reinforcing youth action towards attaining SDGs
  5. Isibane plan 3 “B”: an alternative natural energy
  6. Bulawayo cultural tours
  7. The kings cup: a soccer, social cohesion, art and history focus
  8. Bulawayo food and cultural festival


Building on Bulawayo’s experiences in the Seven Keys, the City and its key partner,Nhimbe Trust, will embark on a process to support other local and regional governments in the African context to localize the SDGs through cultural dimensions and activities. 

This will include organizing interactive exchanges including with the South African governments of Limpopo, Polokwane, and Durban, the City of Kasane, Botswana, and the City of Cairo, Egypt. Through learning and dialogues, the HUB will collate key experiences and perspectives from municipalities and territories, and develop easy-to-apply good practices and indicators for local governments aiming to set forth in their own Seven Keys processes.  

Expected outcomes

  • Objective 1: To collectively develop the narrative on the value of culture and cultural dimensions  in the localization of the SDGs, in the African local government context.
  • Objective 2: Promote the adoption and sustainability of the Seven Keys of Culture process in African local contexts by developing indicators and practical guidance to ensure meaningful impact.
  • Objective 3: Final report on learnings and findings of the Local4Action HUB Bulawayo, reflecting on how the HUB process has contributed to the broader culture and SDG localisation agendas, such as the promotion of a ‘culture goal’, international dissemination and local implementation of Agenda 21 for Culture and the cultural dimensions of the UCLG Pact for the Future.


Link to Agenda 2030

  • SDG 10- Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • SDG 11- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • SDG17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

Link to the UCLG Pact for the Future for Humanity 

  • Commitment for People
    • C1. Guarantee equal rights and opportunities for all and respect and celebrate diversity.
    • C2. Foster universal and equitable access to public services, including housing, health, education and participation in cultural and political life. 
    • C3. Promote informed and sustained citizen’s participation in public life and decision-making promoting freedom of speech and conscience and artistic expression.
    • C4. Focus on human development with culture, peace, creativity & quality of life at the core. 
    • C5. Guarantee decent work and fair pay for all, based on the respect of the principles of subsidiarity, shared responsibilities and collaborative implementation, and entrepreneurship
  • Commitment for Planet
    • C3. Foster local economic development policies that foster new indicators based on quality of life and well-being rather than on growth and economic performance and connect systems of cities with their surrounding hinterlands. 
    • C5. Transition to renewable energy systems as a pressing priority to a more sustainable and just future. 
    • C8. Promote sustainable and inclusive food systems managed and improved by all spheres of government promoting access and quality of food, food security and sovereignty, and resilience. 
  • Commitment for Government
    • C4. Strengthen public institutions to enhance the protection of our global commons and provision of public goods. 
    • C5. Involve the scientific-community, civil society and local communities in the process of policy and decision making. 
    • C6. Promote truthful independent and accountable information sources to combat the spread of misinformation which fuels polarization and a widening cultural divide, notably in the digital sphere and counter hate speech, threats and violence. 
    • C9. Contribute to the strengthening of multilateralism through a meaningful engagement in global agendas and representation in decision-making bodies. 

Link to other Global Agendas

  • Africa Development Agenda (2063)
  • Agenda 2021 for Culture
  • 2003 Convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage 
  • 2005 Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions
  • 1954 Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict


Coming soon


  • Bulawayo’s ‘Seven Key’s report
  • Local4Action HUB Bulawayo video

How to join the Local4Action HUB

For further information please contact the Local4Action HUBs Program at local4actionhubs@uclg.org

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