Derby Joins UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

28 September 2022

Derby Joins UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Derby has become one of just two UK cities to be accepted as members of UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) in the latest round of applications, in recognition of its outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all people within the city.

Membership to the network was granted following a successful application submitted by Derby City Council, the University of Derby, Derby County Community Trust and the Derby Opportunity Area Board.

A strong commitment to lifelong learning by the mayor, and a track record of good practices and policy initiatives are key prerequisites for becoming a learning city, as is being able to deliver educational opportunities to all, as well as a commitment to delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In total 77 cities, including Derby, from 44 countries have become new members, bringing the total number of cities within UNESCO’s GNLC to 294 across 96 countries. Derby joins six other UK cities that are existing GNLC members, these are Belfast, Bristol, Derry, Glasgow, Swansea and Wolverhampton.

Derby’s application referenced a number of areas of strength, including the fact that it:

  • Effectively uses its resources in every sector to promote learning from basic to higher education for all
  • Revitalizes learning in families and communities
  • Facilitates learning for and in the workplace
  • Extends the use of modern learning technologies
  • Fosters a culture of learning throughout life

As a member of the GNLC key stakeholders within Derby will work together to deliver an annual Festival of Learning that will seek contributions from communities across the city in a further effort to share and encourage lifelong learning. Some of the key benefits to Derby include:

  • Derby will become internationally recognised as a city of learning and an example to other cities across the world.
  • There will be an opportunity to share knowledge and develop lifelong learning opportunities in Derby, as well as create new sustainable initiatives that would benefit Derby citizens.
  • Derby will have a workforce which has a range of skills, an array of learning opportunities and guidance for career development. Overall, this will create a happier working life in Derby as well as highlighting the city as a fantastic place to develop both a career and lifelong skills.

“Derby has yet again proven how outstanding it is. Our educational opportunities in Derby are excellent and I am proud to see that fact recognised by UNESCO. We are now able to share our knowledge with other learning cities around the world while continuing to learn ourselves from fellow GNLC cities. This has been a huge effort from everybody involved and I am extremely proud to be a part of it.”

Robin Wood, Mayor of Derby

“Education and learning should not be exclusive. In Derby, we have an incredible array of educational services that are available for everybody. Whether you are looking to learn new skills or develop existing ones, there will be a service in Derby to help you expand your education. With Derby now joining UNESCO GNLC, we are a learning city and able to share our wide breadth of knowledge with the rest of the world”.

Councillor Evonne Williams, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills

“Derby is a fantastic city with educational opportunities to match. These opportunities ensure that anybody in Derby can take steps to progress their education should they choose to. We are now able to join other cities around the world in encouraging people to continue lifelong learning no matter their background. This is a proud and momentous moment for Derby.”

Paul Simpson, Chief Executive of Derby City Council

“Being invited to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities is fantastic news for the city and recognition of the collective commitment there is to opening the doors to lifelong learning opportunities for the people of Derby. 

We are delighted to have been a part of the application process and look forward to working with partners as we build on the work of Derby’s Opportunity Area Board, with a view to delivering on our shared vision for inclusive lifelong learning that truly puts Derby on the world map as an exemplar of best practice.”

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby

“Our long-term commitment to supporting social mobility through educational and social provision within Derby has been evidenced throughout the past five years of the Opportunity Area programme. As this movement culminates, to be awarded with UNESCO GNLC status cements our commitment as a city to opportunity, aspiration and achievement for all.”

Simon Carnall, Head of Community at Derby County Community Trust
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