What is a Learning City?

A learning city promotes lifelong learning for all. 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

Lifelong learning is key in creating sustainable cities and societies. In the quest for sustainable societies, we must learn to live sustainably. People require certain skills, values and attitudes if they are to contribute to the creation of sustainable societies and address the challenges they face in helping achieve this goal. In today’s fast-changing world, where social, economic and political contexts are constantly being reshaped and reevaluated, learning must be continuous and lifelong. Lifelong learning and education must, therefore, become a main driver in developing the resources necessary for people to achieve sustainable environmental, social and economic advancement.

Cities are on the frontline of the battle for sustainable development. They are the scene not only of rapid economic growth and technological innovation but also of extreme poverty, socio-economic inequality and excessive consumption. They are also sites of continuous exchange of knowledge and ideas; places where people live, work and learn. As such, every city has enormous potential to stimulate and support learning among their inhabitants in ways that can help tackle existing issues, strengthen social cohesion and solidarity, and transform the prospects of urban communities for the better.

In the search for effective long-term solutions to these challenges, more and more cities are reinventing themselves as learning cities and taking concrete actions to realize that vision. In doing so, they aim to ensure that education and learning are accessible for all inhabitants, regardless of age, in formal, informal and non-formal settings.