Swansea is first city in UK to pilot UNESCO’s “Learning Cities”

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Swansea has been chosen as the first city in the UK to collaborate with cities around the world in a UNESCO initiative aimed at developing “Learning Cities”, which help all citizens get better access to learning opportunities.

Aerial viewSwansea University is leading the Swansea Bay City Region’s involvement in the work.  

Other invited cities include Beijing, Cape Town, Helsinki, Sao Paulo, Ho Chi Minh City, Mexico City and cities in Japan, South Korea and North America.

The majority of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2030, the proportion is likely to exceed 60 per cent, according to UNESCO

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning says this means “local governments are facing challenges associated with social inclusion, new technologies, the knowledge economy, cultural diversity and environmental sustainability.  In response, a growing number of cities are developing innovative strategies that allow their citizens – young and old – to learn new skills and competencies throughout life, thereby transforming their cities into ‘learning cities’.”  

Judith James and Jean Preece from Swansea University have been working with UNESCO and experts from other countries worldwide, refining the key features for “Learning Cities”.

Judith James said:

“Our cities may be in different parts of the world, but we face many of the same problems, such as youth unemployment, an ageing population, and poor health.  Improving opportunities for learning can help tackle some of these problems, as well as having a measurable impact on productivity.  

It was fascinating listening to our colleagues from South Korea, where they really take this seriously.  They have 90 Learning Cities – which is extraordinary – and they say this helps explain why their economy has done so well.”

The initiative is being launched in Beijing.