UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) is an international policy-oriented network that provides inspiration and disseminates know-how and best practice. Coordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), one of eight UNESCO educational institutes and centres, it is active in more than two hundred cities and more than sixty countries, including a growing number in the African region. The network brings together local communities from all world regions that are committed to the implementation of lifelong learning.



GNLC promotes peer learning among member cities, fosters partnerships, and develops capacity.

UNESCO defines a learning city as a city that: mobilizes its resources in every sector to promote inclusive learning from basic to higher education; revitalizes learning in families and communities; facilitates learning for and in the workplace; extends the use of modern learning technologies; enhances quality and excellence in learning; and fosters a culture of learning throughout life. Cities that do these things enhance individual empowerment and social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity, and sustainable development.


“Lifelong learning is key for sustainable development. Only if all of us are able to continuously update knowledge and skills will we be able to adapt to and take an active role in a rapidly developing world. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities are at the forefront of enabling lifelong learning. Members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities showcase effective lifelong  learning policies and practices that support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda. I invite all cities committed to lifelong learning to become part of this global network.”





International Conference on Learning Cities. Every two years, mayors and other representatives of the GNLC come together to share challenges, solutions, and best practice in furthering lifelong learning for their residents.

City priorities. The network collaborates on topics that its members prioritize, such as education for sustainable development, educational planning and evaluation, education for health and wellbeing, and education for global citizenship.

Peer learning. A guide to action on lifelong learning for health in cities. GNLC members in cooperation with the UNESCO Chair of Global Health and Education work to raise awareness of the contribution of lifelong learning to health, and develop and implement together policies that will make their cities healthy and resilient.

UNESCO Learning City Award. The UNESCO Learning City Award recognizes and showcases good practices in promoting quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all at local level. The award is presented in each of the five UNESCO regions to cities that have demonstrated significant progress in implementing learning projects and activities for their citizens.


Cities can apply to join the GNLC every two years. Please consult our site for more information.


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