Cork to Host UNESCO’s 3rd International Conference on Learning Cities

Cork has been chosen by UNESCO to host its International Conference on Learning Cities in 2017. This will be the very first time that the prestigious conference has been held in Europe. Hosting the conference will help strengthen Ireland’s international reputation in the field of education, bringing particular attention to Cork’s influence as a Learning City.

The conference will see up to 700 delegates arise in Cork from over 95 countries. These will include ministers, mayors, representatives of national governments and cities, as well as other key international decision-makers and influences who will each participate in sharing their knowledge and experience in building inclusive and sustainable learning cities.

Cork has been at the forefront in implementing the ideals of a Learning City, first expressed in Beijing in 2013 at the 1st UNESCO Conference on Learning Cities. Cork’s effective multi-sectoral approach to development is most prominently exemplified by its hugely successful annual Lifelong Learning Festival. The festival has even been an inspiration for other cities, within Ireland and abroad, as it encourages citizens to investigate, participate and celebrate learning. Cork’s achievements were awarded at the 2nd International Conference on Learning Cities in 2015 in Mexico City when it received the UNESCO Learning City Award.

Having played a substantial role in the two previous conferences, Cork will now play host to the prestigious event. The reputational value of the event to Cork and Ireland will not only support efforts to recruit international student, but will help attract and retain the skilled workers needed for continued economic growth.

Speaking of Cork’s achievement Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Des Cahill said: “Cork City is honoured to have been chosen by UNESCO to follow in the footsteps of mega cities such as Beijing and Mexico City in hosting its 2017 International Conference on Learning Cities.  We look forward to welcoming delegates from across the globe to Cork and to sharing our ideas and experiences of developing learning cities.  This is a unique opportunity for Cork and Ireland to project itself to the world as a great place in which to study and learn, visit and do business.”

Ted Owens, Chief Executive of the Cork Education & Training Board, also welcomes the honour of hosting the conference: “Cork ETB’s core business coincides with the learning city agenda in many ways, in particular in tackling educational disadvantage and enabling all citizens to engage in learning activities.   We welcome the opportunity to work together on the organisation of the conference and will strive to do everything to ensure its success”

Cork’s hosting of the UNESCO Conference will have many long-term positive benefits for both the Cork region and for Ireland and will help to establish it internationally as a place of learning excellence.

As Cork’s most prominent educational institutes, both UCC and CIT will be contributing to next year’s conference. Registrar and Vice President of Cork Institute of Technology, Dr Barry O’Connor said: “Cork Institute of Technology is at the very centre of Lifelong Learning and Continuing Professional Development in Cork City and County and we look forward to joining with UNESCO, our Cork Learning City partners and the wider learning community in hosting this prestigious international conference. Cork Learning City will make a strong contribution to this UNESCO conference and will enhance the global UNESCO Learning City network, establishing new international partnerships through exchange of best practice and experiences in lifelong learning.”

Dr Michael B. Murphy, President, UCC said: “UCC has been working closely with local government, other local institutions of higher education, and other learning stakeholders to further develop Cork as a learning city. We wholeheartedly support and commit to the bid to host the 3rd UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities in Cork.  To be placed in the company of Beijing and Mexico City is an extraordinary achievement.  All should be very proud.”

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