Yeonsu-gu to host Unesco's International Conference on Learning Cities

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Yeonsu-gu to host Unesco's International Conference on Learning Cities

Ko Nam-seok, mayor of Yeonsu-gu, center, speaks at the 2020 Asia Pacific GNLC Network Conference on Oct. 29 at the Global City Art Hall in Yeonsu, Incheon, calling for the launch of a regional network of 70 Unesco learning cities from the Asia-Pacific. [YEONSU-GU OFFICE]

Ko Nam-seok, mayor of Yeonsu-gu, center, speaks at the 2020 Asia Pacific GNLC Network Conference on Oct. 29 at the Global City Art Hall in Yeonsu, Incheon, calling for the launch of a regional network of 70 Unesco learning cities from the Asia-Pacific. [YEONSU-GU OFFICE]

 
Incheon’s Yeonsu-gu was selected to host the Unesco Institute for Lifelong Learning’s fifth International Conference on Learning Cities (ICLC) in 2021, an event expected to bring together education experts from nearly 230 cities around the world.
 
The conference, scheduled for autumn next year, is expected to bring together some 700 participants from the Unesco Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) to discuss ways to promote health education and contribute to emergency responses, including those established during the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
The Yeonsu-gu Office said Monday that it will coordinate with the Education Ministry, Culture Ministry, Incheon Metropolitan City and Incheon’s Office of Education to host the three-day conference in October at the Songdo Convensia Convention Center.
 
The ICLC, held every two years, will involve representatives and experts from the 229 members of the Unesco GNLC, an international policy-oriented network geared towards knowledge production and sharing, from 64 countries.
 
The theme of the conference is “Global health education and emergency response,” and Yeonsu-gu Office expects the event could involve up to 5,000 domestic and international participants.
 
“Lifelong learning is a leading educational paradigm in Yeonsu-gu, a city that has shown remarkable engagement in the Unesco Global Network of Learning Cities by taking part in international exchanges and collaboration to make lifelong learning a reality for citizens across the world,” said David Atchoarena, director of the Unesco Institute for Lifelong Learning, in a statement. “I am delighted to have Yeonsu-gu and the Republic of Korea as partners in hosting ICLC 5, and I look forward to fruitful exchanges on the topic of global health education and emergency response — themes that, in the current Covid-19 environment, could not be more relevant.”
 
Yeonsu was designated as the first lifelong learning city in Incheon in 2003, categorized as a special education internationalization zone by the Education Ministry in 2012 and joined the GNLC in 2018.
 
The GNLC aims to support achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” and to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”
  
Following the designation as the next host of the ICLC on Dec. 9, the Unesco institute and Yeonsu will sign an official agreement later this month.
 
Ko Nam-seok, mayor of Yeonsu-gu, attended the fourth ICLC in Medellín, Colombia, last year. Yeonsu, along with Larissa, Greece, was selected as the cluster coordinator city for Global Citizenship Education, leading 36 cities as a part of a strategy to encourage closer cooperation between cities with similar interests in a given theme.
 
In late October, Yeonsu held the 2020 Asia Pacific GNLC Network Conference where 70 Unesco learning cities from the Asia-Pacific countries launched a regional network, the first of its kind.
 
“As a leading educational city, Yeonsu-gu is designated as a lifelong learning city and a special education internationalization zone,” Mayor Ko said in a statement. “Therefore, Yeonsu-gu has the best environment to discuss international issues such as education, environment, well-being and respect for cultural diversity.”
 
Yeonsu-gu Office said it will work to create an environment to discuss international issues such as education, health, climate change, equality, human rights and cultural diversity. It will also hold book festivals and other events to introduce content and platforms on Korean education and ICT knowledge. 
 
“We have learned through Covid-19 that regional problems are not just regional problems, but could accelerate into an international issue with a scope that is much broader and more complicated than in the past,” Mayor Ko said in a statement Monday. “We know from our experience that educated citizens are more adept at putting [their learning] into practice and responding to crises. Now is the time in the fourth industrial revolution to lead the path that no one has taken before, where international learning cities are needed.”
 
Yeonsu, along with Incheon and the Education Ministry, had been preparing for the bid since June. President Moon Jae-in also welcomed the conference for next year.
 
The Institute for Lifelong Learning, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, is one of Unesco’s seven education institutes and supports the field of lifelong learning, with a focus on adult and continuing education, literacy and non-formal basic education.
  
BY SARAH KIM   [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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