The Scottish International Storytelling Festival at UNESCO Creative City of Literature Edinburgh

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The UK National Commission for UNESCO’s case studies are a series of studies that focus on specific interactions between UNESCO’s programmes, designations and objectives and the UK

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This case study is part of the 2020 Nation Value of UNESCO to the UK Report.

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Storytelling as a means of advancing sustainable development? The Scottish International Storytelling Festival in the city of Edinburgh shows that this is possible and is a remarkable example of how culture can lead in this area.

The annual Festival, which has been awarded £100,000 by the Platforms for Creative Excellence Fund (PLACE) set up by the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council, uses storytelling to tackle global and national issues such as climate change and inequality.

Thanks to the grant, this year’s festival featured a brand-new project called the Global Storytelling Lab which combined indigenous traditions with tales of radical activism, included talks from storytellers such as Extinction Rebellion activist Grian Cutanda, and saw the launch of the world’s first anthology of Earth Stories, aligned with the principles of the Earth Charter.

The Festival also organised 100 new locally-led events across the country to empower and encourage groups and individuals to share their own stories with the wider communities. Collaborations with local storytellers also helped to unearth forgotten and lesser-known local stories, songs and rhymes.

Storytelling promotes intercultural exchange, it fosters mutual understanding and can strengthen a sense of community. According to Ruth Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Scottish Storytelling Forum: ‘There is a hunger for the kind of community belonging, and the hospitality that traditional storytelling fosters.’

So celebrating Scotland’s rich literary and oral heritage through storytelling is a great example of how UNESCO designations can use culture to engage with and contribute to the Sustainable Development Agenda.

This case study was a part of the 2020 National Value of UNESCO to the UK Report 

ISSN 2050-8212 (Print)

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The 2020 National Value for UNESCO to the UK Report & Programme

The National Value Report seeks to capture the economic and wider intangible value of the UK network of UNESCO designations. It finds that the network is adding significant value to our economy and society and recommends how this value can be enhanced.

The National Value of UNESCO Designations to the United Kingdom Report shows how UNESCO is bringing sites, people and communities together, and creating and delivering value for the United Kingdom. It finds that the vibrant network of UNESCO sites in the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are contributing in three main areas: they contribute financial value, they make a rich and creative contribution to the UK’s environment, culture and communities and contribute to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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The 2020 National Value for UNESCO to the UK Report & Programme Case Studies

The case studies that form this series illustrate these benefits to the UK that are contributed by the vibrant Network of UK UNESCO sites as found by the National Value Report; featuring financial value, academic research, environmentalism and climate change, promotion and preservation of culture, education and more.


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