Learning to live sustainably in cities in Latin America and the Caribbean


10 May 2017

Representatives of 40 cities from 20 countries took part in a UNESCO regional meeting on learning cities and education for sustainable development in Latin American and the Caribbean.

The event, ‘Learning to Live Sustainably in Cities’, took place from 26 to 28 April in Villa María, a city of 77,198 inhabitants in the region of Cordoba in Argentina. Villa Maria is a member of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (UNESCO GNLC) and a 2017 UNESCO Learning City Award winner

The 170 participants, including mayors, deputy mayors and experts in the field, discussed strategies and implementation approaches that promote learning to live sustainably among citizens, local organizations and institutions.

They agreed that lifelong learning is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at local level. In taking this agenda forward, cities supported several strategies, emphasizing the involvement of citizens and relevant stakeholders, such as by engaging students in urban planning policy development, working across various sectors within and outside government.

Such a strategy can help ensure that learning improves people’s lives in different ways. For example, working with the health sector can promote learning for healthy lifestyles while cooperation with employers and the private sector can promote decent work for all in cities.

As Martín Rodrigo Gill, Mayor of Villa María, noted: ‘The municipality alone cannot build a learning city. The involvement of schools, churches, universities, NGOs, private sector and citizens is crucial to become a learning city.’

The observations, commitments and planned actions of this meeting were consolidated into the Villa María Declaration. Those regional approaches will also be at the center of the 2017 International Conference on Learning Cities, which will take place from 18 to 20 September in Cork, Ireland.

The meeting was organized jointly by the city of Villa María and UNESCO (including the UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean).

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