Hamburg, Germany – Puebla, Mexico has joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), along with 54 other cities in 27 countries.
The city of Puebla has been recognized as an outstanding example of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. It has proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities that contribute to the 2030 Agenda.
Yesterday’s addition of 54 new members brings the total number of cities within the UNESCO GNLC to 230 in 64 countries. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), as coordinator of the network, admitted the new members following their nomination by the National Commissions for UNESCO in the concerned countries.
A strong commitment to lifelong learning by the mayor and city administration is a key prerequisite for becoming a learning city. As part of their application process, potential UNESCO GNLC members must demonstrate a clear vision for providing lifelong learning opportunities for everyone in the community. Once admitted, cities are expected to take part in the activities of the network and to produce a biennial report outlining their achievements as learning cities.
Puebla is a cultural city, noted since its foundation in 1531 as a city of letters, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
With more than 200,000 students, Puebla has become the main university center of Mexico, and the cultural and economic center of the metropolitan area of Puebla-Tlaxcala, which has a population of 2.9 million people. However, the accelerated growth of recent years had led to the construction of two realities in the city: one full of opportunities, the other marked by exclusion and poverty.
The city’s vision is to redress that social debt, to become an inclusive city, promoting meaningful learning in families, schools, workplaces and public spaces, a city of peace, open to a sense of community and a place where all children, youths and adults have their hearts close to education.
Puebla recognizes that the key to achieving a more just society is to promote lifelong learning: providing opportunities to vulnerable and marginalized sectors for the development of basic skills and cross-cutting competencies is crucial for reducing social gaps and living happily.
Claudia Rivera Vivanco, the Mayor of Puebla said, “Since its foundation, the City of Puebla has been a center for the exchange of knowledge, and following this tradition, nowadays is an area for the academic formation of the center and southeast of the country. These are historical strengths of the city that lead us to the vision of being a City of Inclusive Learning, a city committed to its children, youth, older adults and especially committed to marginalized populations to generate learning opportunities for the development of skills and competencies for life.”
UIL Director David Atchoarena explains: “With unprecedented urgency, the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the center of this undertaking.”
“During the pandemic, UNESCO learning cities from around the world have shown that they are well placed to make lifelong learning a reality, also under harsh conditions,’ Mr. Atchoarena continues. ‘I warmly welcome Puebla along with the further new members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities and very much look forward to working with them on further advancing our goal of ensuring lifelong learning for all.”