Learning cities are a crucial driver in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda, approved by the United Nations in 2015, includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a number of related targets to be met by 2030.

Based on five pillars – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships – the 2030 Agenda focuses on eradicating extreme poverty, combating climate change and addressing inequality in all its dimensions. All countries and all stakeholders are called upon to act in collaboration and partnership to implement the 2030 Agenda. Recognizing the important role of education and lifelong learning for sustainable development and the success of all SDGs, the 2030 Agenda includes a strong goal on education (SDG 4) – ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ – with seven targets and three means of implementation. With Goal 4 and its associated targets, the world has set an ambitious universal education agenda for the period 2015 to 2030 (Education 2030). The new education agenda is comprehensive, holistic and universal, and is inspired by a vision of education that transforms the lives of individuals, communities and societies, leaving no one behind. Every effort must be made to guarantee that this time the goal and targets are achieved

To achieve this ambitious vision and help make the world a better place, cities and other human settlements must provide inclusive, safe, supportive and sustainable environments in which people can live. This will only happen if local stakeholders act together and form multi-stakeholder partnerships, and if we learn how to live sustainably, as individuals and within our communities. The challenges of today’s fast-moving and uncertain world can only be met by individuals who are lifelong learners. These issues are stressed particularly in SDG 4 (‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’) and SDG 11 (‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’). Promoting lifelong learning for the sustainable development of cities is, therefore, fundamental to achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals.