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Yeonsu-gu completes hosting UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities

Yeonsu Declaration for Learning Cities is read during the 5th UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities held in Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, on Saturday. (Yeonsu-gu)
Yeonsu Declaration for Learning Cities is read during the 5th UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities held in Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, on Saturday. (Yeonsu-gu)
Incheon’s Yeonsu-gu successfully completed hosting the 5th UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities under the attendance of thousands of representatives from across the world.

During the four-day conference started Oct. 27, around 2,000 people from 229 cities in 64 countries virtually attended the conference held in Songdo Convensia, with 200 in-person participants from South Korea and 24 other countries.

The latest conference shed light on the importance of virtual education and discussed the importance of global health education responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference also highlighted the actions needed to improve resilience in the face of future crises.

Ko Nam-seok, mayor of the host city Yeonsu-gu, was appointed as the first leader of the Alliance for Asia-Pacific Learning Cities at a session held on the sidelines of the UNESCO conference. Yeonsu-gu also was picked as a district to open the head office for APLC.

This year’s conference was held under the theme of “From emergency to resilience: Building healthy and resilient cities through learning.”

Its opening ceremony was attended by South Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena.

The conference featured a number of side events, including book and media festivals and Korean food fairs. A related exhibition had 154 booths and nine themed fairs that drew over 10,000 citizens over two days.

While the conference did not see as many participants as initially expected due to a COVID-19 resurgence, Yeonsu-gu still managed to make progress by drawing virtual participation through opening online platforms and using metaverse technology.

Yeonsu-gu utilized a three-dimensional virtual conferencing system developed by Incheon city government to hold networking sessions and host exhibitions throughout the conference. The event also went paperless and minimized the use of plastic containers and paper cups.

The district government said it was meaningful that Yeonsu-gu, with a population of just 400,000, was able to host the largest lifelong learning conference from UNESCO.

“I sincerely thank residents, citizens, attendees and others for their interest and help to successfully conclude this event despite difficulties faced from COVID-19,” Ko said in a statement.

“Yeonsu-gu has successfully completed the largest international conference on lifelong learning in the limited pandemic environment, and we will continue carrying out our role as an international player leading the lifelong learning sector.”

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 UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities 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.

By Lee Hong-seok and Ko Jun-tae (gilbert@heraldcorp.com) (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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