Today, Tucson became the first and only city in the United States to be designated a World City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, the educational, scientific and cultural agency of the United Nations. With this designation, Tucson joins 115 other cities worldwide in the Creative Cities Network—cities using creativity to help drive “sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy.”
In the United States, there are just six UNESCO Creative Cities designees: Austin, Texas for Media Arts; Detroit, Michigan for Design; Iowa City, Iowa for Literature; and Paducah, Kentucky and Santa Fe, New Mexico for Crafts and Folk Arts.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild made the announcement at a press conference in the mayor’s office. The mayor’s Commission on Food Security, Heritage and Economy will serve as the advisory body for the city’s UNESCO Creative Cities efforts.
“This is a wonderful recognition for Tucson to receive, acknowledging not only our great restaurants, but our rich agricultural heritage as well,” said Mayor Rothschild, who noted that the city’s application looked at Tucson’s food system “from farm to table.”
The city worked with the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, Edible Baja Arizona magazine, and many other community partners on its Creative Cities application, posted on the city’s website at tucsonaz.gov/gastronomy.
At the press conference, Dr. John Paul Jones, III, Dean of the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, called the designation “a milestone in the history of Tucson.”
“When you hear the word gastronomy,” Dr. Gary Nabhan added, “think food culture and food economy.” Dr. Nabhan will direct the university’s new Center for Regional Food Studies, part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Membership in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network allows Tucson to share best practices, experiences and ideas with other cities in the network. The designation is also a point of pride that can be used to attract tourists and businesses to our region.
Executive Vice President of Visit Tucson Felipe Garcia thanked the group that put the application together for giving Visit Tucson “another tool to celebrate and to sell Tucson” to prospective visitors.
For more information about the UNESCO designation and City of Tucson food policies and measures, visit tucsonaz.gov/gastronomy.