Advocacy and networking

UIL endorses lifelong learning as the leading educational paradigm for inclusive and sustainable learning societies. We support policy-makers in their work, and work with civil society and non-governmental organizations in petitioning for positive change in their countries and regions.

Highlights in 2021:

  • UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities
  • Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning
  • Preparations for the seventh International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII)
people walking arial view

What we did in 2021: 

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning coordinates the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC). In 2021 we:

  • co-hosted, with the learning city of Yeonsu, Republic of Korea, the fifth International Conference on Learning Cities (ICLC 5), which drew over 2,300 participants from more than 100 countries;
  • conferred the UNESCO Learning City Award on 10 cities in recognition of their outstanding progress in lifelong learning;
  • worked with UNESCO GNLC member cities on key topics in lifelong learning development, co-hosting 16 meetings and conferences in this regard;
  • published an overview of learning cities’ responses to COVID-19, as well as publications on citizenship education, entrepreneurship education, educational planning and management, and Education for Sustainable Development implementation, thereby promoting evidence-based recommendations for making lifelong learning and sustainable development a reality at city level.
Fifth International Conference on Learning Cities
Yeonsu

More than 2,300 people, representing over 100 countries, attended the fifth International Conference on Learning Cities (ICLC 5), which took place in Yeonsu, Republic of Korea, and online in October 2021. With the adoption of the event’s outcome document, the Yeonsu Declaration, representatives of the UNESCO GNLC network pledged to place lifelong learning for health and resilience at the centre of their agendas.

Moreover, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, mayors, city representatives and experts committed to strengthening local learning initiatives and strategies for health. Participating cities pledged to develop learning opportunities to help communities better understand information about health, adopt healthier lifestyles by making informed choices, and understand how to access healthcare. Participants also agreed to strengthen the resilience of cities, communities and learning systems by putting local people at the centre of decision-making processes and fostering strong links between learning institutions and communities. Cities also pledged to allocate adequate funds to ensure the realization of these activities, and to conduct a research-based review of their COVID-19 responses to better prepare for future crises

‘Cities are at the front line of global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and – with more than half of humanity living in urban areas – they have a central role to play in providing everyone with learning opportunities.’

David Atchoarena, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning

UIL director

Governments called on to adopt new policies fostering lifelong learning

To create a thriving environment for local action towards healthy and resilient cities through learning, conference participants called on national governments to adopt new policies for lifelong learning for health and to support the development of resilient cities in UNESCO Member States, as stated in the Yeonsu Declaration.

‘We need to create a cultural climate that allows lifelong learning for everyone in the world.’

Ban Ki-moon, former United Nations Secretary-General

ban ki-moon

‘We need to go beyond the realm of learning simply to acquire knowledge and seek to promote learning to make citizens' lives healthy.’

Nam-Seok Ko, Mayor of the ICLC 5 host city of Yeonsu (Republic of Korea)

nam seok ko

Ten cities take home the UNESCO Learning City Award

In recognition of 10 cities’ outstanding achievements in implementing lifelong learning strategies at the local level, UIL conferred the UNESCO Learning City Award 2021 during the first day of the ICLC 5 in Yeonsu. The awardees – ranging from megacities to smaller urban areas, demonstrated how learning opportunities empower citizens of all ages when robust policies and programmes are put into place.

‘The recipients of this year’s UNESCO Learning City Award have empowered their citizens to adapt to a rapidly changing world and acquire the knowledge that is necessary to work together to address myriad global challenges. Through lifelong learning, the awardees pave the way to a fairer, more just and sustainable society and a better future for us all,’ underlined David Atchoarena, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.

The recipients of the 2021 UNESCO Learning City Award are Al Wakrah (Qatar), Belfast (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Clermont-Ferrand (France), Damietta (Egypt), Dublin (Ireland), Huejotzingo (Mexico), Jubail Industrial City (Saudi Arabia), Osan (Republic of Korea), Shanghai (People’s Republic of China) and Wyndham (Australia). They were selected by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), on the recommendation of an independent jury of international experts.

UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Wyndham, Australia
Image features the Werribee River in Wyndham, Australia.
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Damietta, Egypt
Image features a panorama of the harbour and city of Damietta, Egypt.
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Image features buildings and streets in France: Clermont-Ferrand.
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Dublin, Ireland
Image features a busy street in Dublin, UK.
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Huejotzingo, Mexico
Mexico: Huejotzingo view of city and volcano
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
Image features skyscrapers in Shanghai.
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Al Wakra, Qatar
Image features a street in Al Wakra, Qatar.
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Osan, Republic of Korea
Image features the skyline of Osan, Republic of Korea
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia
Image features a small ampitheatre on the coast of Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia
UNESCO Learning City Awardee: Belfast, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:
Image features the city of Belfast at night.

The UNESCO learning city of Hamburg, Germany

Inducted into the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2019, UIL’s host city of Hamburg is an early adopter of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). In June 2021, the city's senate adopted the 'ESD Masterplan 2030' as another milestone of its engagement. Read our multimedia story to learn more about how young and old citizens of Hamburg can learn for our planet.

The image features an aerial view of Hamburg, Germany.
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Espoo, Finland
Espoo, Finland
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Gdynia, Poland
Gdynia, Poland
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Glasgow, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Glasgow, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Goyang, Republic of Korea
Goyang, Republic of Korea
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Kashan, Islamic Republic of Iran
Kashan, Islamic Republic of Iran
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Mayo-Baléo, Cameroon
Mayo-Baleo, Cameroon
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Osan, Republic of Korea
Osan, Republic of Korea
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Puebla, Mexico
Puebla, Mexico
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Santiago, Chile
Santiago, Chile
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Snapshots of Learning Cities Responses to COVID-19: Wuhan, People's Republic of China
Wuhan, People's Republic of China
Snapshots of learning cities’ responses to COVID-19
Image features part of the cover page of the Snapshots of Learning Cities publication

Publications

Cities and educational planning and management: IIEP and UIL survey analysis report
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning
2021
UNESCO
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ESD implementation in learning cities
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning
2021
UNESCO
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Entrepreneurship education for learning cities
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning
2021
UNESCO
0000379536
Citizenship education for democratic and sustainable communities
2021
With the support of UIL
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woman with laptop and phone

What we did in 2021:

  • Organized the GAL general meeting to assess challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and identify solutions;
  • Published a cost analysis for youth and adult literacy provision in GAL countries;
  • Organized 4 webinars together with partners to promote literacy;
  • Developed a Digital Competency Framework for Literacy Educators with corresponding training modules as part of the initiative ‘Improving digital competencies of literacy educators’ together with the UNESCO Global Education Coalition.

US $17 billion additional funding is required to achieve universal literacy in the 29 countries of the UNESCO Global Alliance for Literacy

UNESCO cost analysis, taking into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on national households, shows that if members of the Global Alliance for Literacy, home to 75 per cent of the illiterates worldwide, are to achieve near universal functional literacy by 2030 the international community will urgently need to close a funding gap of US $17 billion.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has put domestic budgets of the Global Alliance for Literacy countries under tremendous pressure. But investment in literacy is essential if we are to recover well from this global pandemic. We need to ensure that literacy is a core component of educational recovery plans and that adequate budgets are allocated. However, without the support of the international community, we will not be able to achieve the goal of universal literacy by 2030, as pledged by the international community.’

H.E. Kouaro Yves Chabi, Benin's Minister of Secondary, Technical and Vocational Education and Co-chair of the UNESCO Global Alliance for Literacy

H.E. Kouaro Yves Chabi, Benin's Minister of Secondary, Technical and Vocational Education and Co-chair of the UNESCO Global Alliance for Literacy
Assessing challenges brought on by COVID-19
adult students with masks Africa

In September 2021, the Global Alliance for Literacy met virtually to address the impact and challenges that youth and adult literacy has faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and examined how GAL member countries, associate members and partners sought innovative solutions to maintain and adapt learning opportunities.

Participants highlighted that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, innovations in distance, e-learning and blended learning in literacy provision have increased. They emphasized the urgency to expand literacy learning to include information and communication technology (ICT) skills, and called for literacy educators’ capacities in digital usage to be developed. In their presentations, GAL members demonstrated the online resources that are increasingly available which equip teachers, trainers and literacy educators with relevant skills.

While progress has been made in meeting the challenges of the pandemic, participants underlined that literacy and non-formal education have remained marginal to the major efforts to develop alternative education opportunities, with the majority of initiatives focusing on formal education. This, they agreed, has worsened existing inequities.

Access the GAL General Meeting presentations.

‘We must start to recognize digital skills as one of the essential elements of twenty-first century #literacy, and thus as an integral dimension of the right to education.’

Firmin Edouard Matoko, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Africa & External Relations

Firmin Edouard Matoko, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Africa & External Relations

Webinars

2021 International Literacy Day put literacy and digital skills at the heart of COVID-19 recovery
Leverage technological innovation for lifelong learning, says UIL
Webinar: Lifelong learning opportunities and policies for refugees, migrants and IDPs
Webinar: ‘Family literacy and indigenous and local learning'
Literacy educators’ initiative
laptop aerial

The UNESCO-led Global Education Coalition and GAL launched an initiative to promote quality literacy provision by increasing effective use of technologies in literacy instruction and learning, during and beyond major crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this continuing initiative, the two parties will:

  • build the capacities of youth and adult literacy educators in selected GAL countries by developing and offering a set of training modules and designing digital skills monitoring and assessment tools;
  • enhance the capacities of relevant national institutions, such as ministries of education, ministries of higher education, teacher-training institutions and colleges, and NGOs that train and support youth and adult literacy educators, and contribute to network-building among relevant literacy stakeholders and partners.

In 2021, UIL developed a Digital Competency Framework for Literacy Educators with corresponding training modules. After a pilot phase, the scaling-up of the initiative will occur in 2022.

By the end of 2022, 100,000 literacy educators from at least 10 GAL countries will be trained in the effective use of technologies in literacy teaching and learning.

Achieving our potential: Libraries, literacy and learning throughout life
library bookshelves
Guidelines on open and distance learning for youth and adult literacy published
woman and girl looking at tablet
Closing the digital divide: It’s about more than access
woman and girl looking at computer
Integrated approaches to literacy and skills development
Integrated approaches to literacy and skills development
Marrakesh market

UIL, together with UNESCO field offices, organized a series of regional and sub-regional conferences throughout 2021 in each of the five UNESCO world regions in preparation for CONFINTEA VII. These conferences provided localized perspectives on ALE, and the outcome documents of these consultations will be used to draft the framework for action to be adopted during CONFINTEA VII. Learn more about the regional and sub-regional conferences here:

Arab States

Regional outcome document

Asia and the Pacific

Regional outcome document

Latin America and the Caribbean

Regional outcome document

Africa

Regional outcome document

Europe and North America

Regional outcome document

2022: CONFINTEA VII in the Kingdom of Morocco
Image features an aerial view of a market in Marrakesh, Morocco.
2017: CONFINTEA VI Mid-Term Review in Suwon, Republic of Korea
Image features a fortress in Suwon, Korea
Image features the skyline of Belem, Brazil.
2003: CONFINTEA V Mid-Term Review in Bangkok, Thailand
Image features a temple in Bangkok, Thailand
1997: CONFINTEA V in Hamburg, Germany
The image features an aerial view of Hamburg, Germany.
1985: CONFINTEA IV in Paris, France
The image features a view of Paris, France, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Image features Tokyo, Japan skyline.
1960: CONFINTEA II in Montreal, Canada
Image features street view of Montreal, Canada.
1949: CONFINTEA I in Elsinore, Denmark
Image features buildings in Elsinore, Denmark.