The Valletta 2018 conference Living Cities, Liveable Spaces: Placemaking & Identity was opened earlier today by Valletta 2018 Chairman Jason Micallef and Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Protection and Valletta 2018 Deo Debattista at the Gran Salon at National Museum of Archaeology.

The conference focuses on the themes of urban development, community engagement and well-being, as well as cultural diplomacy, particularly in light of large-scale activities, such as the European Capital of Culture and other public events.

Valletta 2018 Chairman Jason Micallef opened the conference, saying “We must not hide behind fancy words but make sure that we are constructing equitable, welcoming and lively cities.”

“I personally dream of the day when we will measure the success of a city not by economic markers but by the overall happiness of its citizens,” added Micallef.

Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Protection and Valletta 2018 Deo Debattista said “We cannot rely only on such forums for our cultural sector to continue to flourish. We must commit ourselves to the further investment in cultural research. Cultural research does not only enable politicians such as myself to engage with artists, yet gives us a clearer picture on artist’s rights and working conditions, and what our audiences want from this industry. This is the manner in which us politicians can be one with our artists and help the cultural sector continue to grow.”

Conference keynote speakers include Prof. Dr Sebastian Olma, a leading critical and design theorist and author of “In Defence of Serendipity: For a Radical Politics of Innovation”. The conference will also be addressed amongst others by Jaakko Blomberg, a Finland-based urban activist, Dr Tricia Austin, a design consultant and academic at Central Saint Martins, Dr Marie Briguglio, academic and economist at the Malta University of Malta and Bjorn Vassallo, the Director for European Member Association at FIFA.

The conference will also feature a series of parallel sessions, allowing researchers from across the globe to explore the phenomenon of place branding and community well-being. The conference runs till the 24th November.