Why is cultural inclusion important?

What is cultural inclusion?

A culturally inclusive city embraces diversity in culture, languages, religions, and different ways of self and community expression. Citizens enjoy an environment free from prejudice and discrimination. There are opportunities for citizens to explore cultures and beliefs beyond their own. There is respect, understanding, and acceptance in all kinds of cultures.  

Why is cultural inclusion important?

Heritage and traditions are diminishing in cities as they urbanise and modernise rapidly. However, research has shown that our interaction with heritage can support individual and community wellbeing through increased social connectivity and life satisfaction. Working to embrace all kinds of traditions and cultures would also improve social harmony, nurture innovation, and create new and equal opportunities for all.

From an urban policy perspective, cultural inclusion stands for co-creation in cities using the best innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial practices. With a diverse mix of mindsets and ideologies, our problem-solving abilities would be more holistic, allowing us to deliver more robust social impact.

Culture in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a place rich in culture and cultural diversity. While hailed as a bustling modern city packed with skyscrapers, Hong Kong held traditions close to its heart. There are temples and monasteries in almost every district. Festivals are still celebrated with their traditions, like dragon boat racing on Tuen Ng Festival, Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance (大坑舞火龍) on Mid-Autumn Festival, and Cheung Chau Da Jiu Festival (長洲太平清醮). Unfortunately, many of these traditions are cancelled due to the pandemic, which prompts us to think about how we can enjoy our traditions during times of social disruptions. 

Aside from social turmoil, rapid urbanisation and gentrification have posed threats to the traditions and heritage of Hong Kong. Multiple heritage and F&B icons are lost due to urbanisation (and hardship during the pandemic), including State Theatre (皇都戲院), Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓), and Tai Wing Wah Restaurant (灣仔大榮華). Other iconic buildings and sites are lost for various other reasons, including Jumbo Floating Restaurant (珍寶海鮮舫). 

In face of such threats, being culturally inclusive means proactive cultural conservation and revitalisation to preserve the vibrancy of cities. 

Further, a cultural melting pot like Hong Kong represents a diversity of cultures. While we have diversity, we might not always be inclusive or respectful. Stereotypes and discrimination toward migrant workers, ethnic minorities, refugees, and people of colour remain a serious issue in Hong Kong. Working to embrace all kinds of traditions and cultures would improve social harmony, nurture innovation, and create new and equal opportunities for all.

How can we achieve cultural inclusion in Hong Kong? Join WICS to find out how!

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Inclusive Cities White Paper 2023