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Yeonsu-gu to host 5th UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities in 2021

The 2020 Yeonsu-Asia Pacific GNLC Network Conference hosted by Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, in November. (Yeonsu-gu)
The 2020 Yeonsu-Asia Pacific GNLC Network Conference hosted by Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, in November. (Yeonsu-gu)
Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, has been selected to host the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning’s fifth International Conference on Learning Cities in 2021.

The district said Monday that it will coordinate with the Education Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Incheon city government and the city’s education office to host the three-day conference on “global health education and emergency response” in October.

Following the official designation made Wednesday, the UNESCO institute and Yeonsu-gu will ink an official agreement this month and will confirm session topics for the conference by February.

The two are also planning to invite speakers in the coming months and send invitations to representatives of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities within the first half of next year.

The UNESCO institute said the upcoming conference will provide an opportunity to explore how learning cities can provide health education and help out with emergency responses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since being designated as the first lifelong learning city in Incheon in 2003, Yeonsu-gu was categorized as a special education internationalization zone in 2012 and joined the GNLC as a representative in 2018.

The city district was also selected as a cluster coordinator city for global citizenship education during the fourth conference in 2019 held in Medellin, Colombia.

During the COVID-19 pandemic this year, Yeonsu-gu led the formation of a regional network of more than 70 UNESCO learning cities in the region under the framework of the 2020 Yeonsu Asia Pacific GNLC Network Conference.

Yeonsu-gu applied to host the conference this October with support from top local officials, including President Moon Jae-in, National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug and Culture Minister Park Yang-woo.

The district said the hosting opportunity will help Yeonsu-gu devise a new urban development model centered on lifelong learning. Yeonsu-gu also hopes the event provides momentum in finding new strategies to adopt lifelong learning programs in the post-pandemic world.

“We have already confirmed how complicated and widespread the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is locally and internationally,” said Yeonsu-gu Mayor Ko Nam-seok. “The future’s hyper-complex nature under the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ emphasizes the importance of future education globally.”

The biennial conference is attended by more than 5,000 people from 197 UNESCO member countries and 229 GNLC municipal representatives from 64 countries. The conference has helped learning cities make international exchanges and collaborate to make lifelong learning a reality for citizens around the world.

“We know well from our experience that educated citizens who put their words into action are better apt in responding to crises,” Ko added.

“We are now in an area that needs an international learning city that can guide roads that no one has ever been to, and Yeonsu-gu will play that role in Incheon and South Korea.”

By Lee Hong-seok (gilbert@heraldcorp.com)
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