12 July 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
Cork has been chosen by UNESCO as the location to host its International Conference on Learning Cities in 2017 – the first time this prestigious conference has been held in Europe. Securing the conference for Cork will further enhance Ireland’s reputation internationally in the field of education and also strengthens Cork’s reputation as a Learning City.
The conference will bring approximately 700 delegates from over 95 countries to Cork (including Ministers, mayors, representatives of national governments and cities and other key international decision-makers and influencers) to share knowledge and experiences in building inclusive and sustainable learning cities. The reputational benefits to Ireland of hosting the UNESCO conference will not only support efforts to recruit international students, but can also help attract and retain the skilled workers needed to support continued economic growth.
Cork’s reputation as a city of lifelong learning is given international recognition in hosting this global event. Securing the conference was a competitive process, and key determining factors in Cork’s winning bid were its long standing record in developing education within the wider community and the success of its annual Lifelong Learning Festival.
Responding to the announcement Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Des Cahill said
“Cork City is honoured to have been chosen by UNESCO to follow in the footsteps of mega cities such as Beijing and Mexico City in hosting its 2017 International Conference on Learning Cities. We look forward to welcoming delegates from across the globe to Cork and to sharing our ideas and experiences of developing learning cities. This is a unique opportunity for Cork and Ireland to project itself to the world as a great place in which to study and learn, visit and do business.”
Cork’s hosting of the UNESCO Conference will have many long-term positive benefits for both the Cork region and for Ireland and will help to establish it internationally as a place of learning excellence.
The news was also welcomed by representatives of Cork’s learning institutions:
Ted Owens, Chief Executive of the Cork Education & Training Board said:
“Cork ETB’s core business coincides with the learning city agenda in many ways, in particular in tackling educational disadvantage and enabling all citizens to engage in learning activities. We welcome the opportunity to work together on the organisation of the conference and will strive to do everything to ensure its success”
Registrar and Vice President of Cork Institute of Technology, Dr Barry O’Connor said:
“Cork Institute of Technology is at the very centre of Lifelong Learning and Continuing Professional Development in Cork City and County and we look forward to joining with UNESCO, our Cork Learning City partners and the wider learning community in hosting this prestigious international conference. Cork Learning City will make a strong contribution to this UNESCO conference and will enhance the global UNESCO Learning City network, establishing new international partnerships through exchange of best practice and experiences in lifelong learning.”
Dr Michael B. Murphy, President, UCC said:
“UCC has been working closely with local government, other local institutions of higher education, and other learning stakeholders to further develop Cork as a learning city. We wholeheartedly support and commit to the bid to host the 3rd UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities in Cork. To be placed in the company of Beijing and Mexico City is an extraordinary achievement. All should be very proud.”