More than five hundred mayors, city education executives and experts from more than 100 countries met in Beijing, China, from 21 to 23 October, at the International Conference on Learning Cities to discuss ways to make cities more responsive to the learning needs of citizens.

The conference, which was co-organized by UNESCO, the Ministry of Education of China and Beijing Municipal Government, was opened by Ms Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of China, Mr Yuan Guiren, Minister of Education of China, Mr Wang Anshun, Mayor of Beijing Municipal Government, and  Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. Numerous other senior international figures addressed plenary sessions and regional panels. Discussions focussed on the stages of development required to turn cities into learning cities.

The main outcome document of the conference, the Beijing Declaration on Building Learning Cities affirms the vital importance of education for the future of all human communities. It concludes with a ‘Call to Action’, urging UNESCO “to establish a global network of learning cities to support and accelerate the practice of lifelong learning in the world’s communities. The Beijing Declaration also invites foundations, private corporations and non-governmental organisations to become active partners of the global network of learning cities, and calls upon cities and regions in every part of the world to join this network.

Press release: "We need Learning Cities for a Better Future for All," declares UNESCO Director-General in Beijing