Cork is leading the way in Europe by hosting UNESCO’s International Conference on Learning Cities from September 18 - 20, as its previous conferences were held in Beijing in 2013 and Mexico City in 2015. Securing the conference was a competitive process, and key factors in Cork's winning bid was its long-standing record in developing education within the wider community and the success of its annual Lifelong Learning Festival. It’s a major boost for the local economy and tourism as over 600 people from all over the world will attend the conference. According to the Cork Convention Bureau, delegates attending events in the city spend approximately €1,380 each.
Hosting the UNESCO Conference from September 17th to 20th will also have many long-term positive benefits for the Cork region and will establish it internationally as a place of learning excellence. It will have direct and tangible benefits for educational institutions, the reputation of the city, the reputation of Ireland as a destination and a place in which to do business and to be educated.
Cork has been a learning city since it was founded in the 7th century by Saint Finbarr as a place of learning and study and has been firmly committed since then to learning and to education. This commitment was recognised in 2015 when one of the first 12 UNESCO Learning City Awards was granted to Cork. Since it began in 2004 Cork’s annual Lifelong Learning Festival has proved the most effective way of celebrating learning and of growing learning opportunities for all as a result. The festival has brought enthusiasm for learning and enthusiasm is infectious, and the range of partners, participants and supporters has grown and grown over the years.
Wednesday September 20th is a special day – an opportunity for the people of Cork to welcome delegates into their communities as they experience learning events organised by them. There are over 70 events offered in the Showcase of Cork’s Lifelong Learning Festival, and all are free as usual. The festival’s motto is ‘INVESTIGATE, PARTICPATE, CELEBRATE’ and everyone is encouraged to do just that on Wednesday September 20 with the Showcase of Cork’s annual festival.