26.04.2017 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

Learning to live sustainably: UNESCO holds a meeting in Argentina with 40 municipalities from across Latin America and the Caribbean

Inauguration of the meeting, 26 April 2017. Photo: Municipality of Villa María, Argentina

At the meeting, the delegates are analyzing ways of improving education and lifelong learning in their own cities, and discussing how to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at the local level.

Over three days, from 26 to 28 April 2017, Villa María, in the province of Córdoba, Argentina, is hosting the regional meeting of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. Under the title "Learning to live sustainably in cities", the meeting brings together delegates from 40 municipalities from Latin America and the Caribbean to share knowledge and develop skills in order to involve citizens in decisions that affect them directly, especially in the area of education.

The regional meeting is the result of a joint effort by the Municipality of Villa María (Argentina), the Government of Japan and UNESCO, including the UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The meeting consists of two separate but complementary activities: the Regional Workshop of the Global Action Programme (GAP) – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Cities; and the Regional Workshop on Learning Cities. The aim of the first workshop is to promote greater awareness and training for integrating ESD at the local level, focusing on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as on building ESD capacities in cities and municipalities. The workshop is structured around the five priority action areas (policies, learning environments, educators, young people and the local level), as well as the five ‘five P’s’ (Planet, People, Peace, Prosperity, Partnership) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Regional Workshop on Learning Cities will contribute to the implementation of the concept of Learning Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, leading to better understanding of the key role of lifelong learning in addressing social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges in metropoles. The workshop will produce guidelines to help cities in the region to progress as learning cities through exchanges of significant experiences and effective practices with network cities, and with experts in the fields of lifelong learning.

Raul Valdes Cotera, specialist in the Policies and Strategies Programme of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), is participating in the Villa María meeting; he explains the spirit which inspires these workshops and the network: “In Learning Cities, citizens are closer to policies, they can decide on their learning processes and there is dialogue between the different education providers to enable them to coordinate their work in order to respond to the needs of the population. When we are able to discuss these processes with citizens, we have a much better chance of responding directly to learning needs, and this significant learning can make people happier”.

The Intendente of Villa María, Martín Gill, said in his welcoming speech that “it is an honour for a city like Villa María, in the interior of Argentina, to host this meeting. For three days, representatives of different countries can think, share experiences and find ways towards developing lifelong education. The joint efforts of all the sectors will enable us to achieve a result that means better opportunities and a higher quality of life for our people. The way forward lies in learning and education as a right, and it is built collectively."

What is the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC)?

The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities is a network oriented towards international policy that provides inspiration, know-how and better practices. This programme supports and improves the practice of lifelong learning in cities, promoting dialogue on policies and mutual learning among member cities; forging links; fomenting alliances; developing abilities; and creating instruments to stimulate and recognize the progress achieved in the creation of Learning Cities.

UNESCO defines a learning city as a city that: effectively mobilizes its resources in every sector to promote inclusive learning from basic to higher education; revitalizes learning in families and communities; facilitates learning for and in the workplace; extends the use of modern learning technologies; enhances quality and excellence in learning; and fosters a culture of learning throughout life. In doing so, the city enhances individual empowerment and social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity, and sustainable development.

The city of Villa María in Argentina has been a member city of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC UNESCO) since June 2016. Villa María also received the UNESCO Learning City Award 2017 for its remarkable progress in promoting education and lifelong learning in its local communities.

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Through its Global Network of Learning Cities, UNESCO makes the most of the capacity of cities to establish and apply integrated policies for lifelong learning in order to meet social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges.

The UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development supports Member States by generating and promoting learning at all levels, in all spheres of education and all areas of sustainable development.

Both initiatives are carried out by UNESCO thanks to the inestimable Japanese Funds-in-Trusts (JFIT) support.

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