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Mayor of Waterford City and County welcomes UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) to Waterford

Earlier this year, Waterford was invited to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. The invitation followed the collaborative work between Waterford City and County Council, Kilkenny County Council, the Southern Regional Assembly, SETU and Waterford Chambers in setting out the ambition and commitment in Waterford to fostering lifelong learning opportunities for all its citizens.

On Wednesday May 8th Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway welcomed Raúl Valdés-Cotera, Chief Programme Coordinator at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, Germany and Coordinator of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities to City Hall, where they discussed partnership and collaboration between agencies under the themes of Empowering Individuals and Transforming Societies.

Welcoming Mr. Valdés-Cotera, the Mayor said, “I myself am an advocate of lifelong learning having progressed from being the one taught in the classroom to being the one doing the teaching…a combined learning journey of over 50 years.  The benefits of lifelong learning can never be overstated.  All of us representatives here today are committed to Waterford and the wider region becoming a leading Learning Region within the global network.  Working with SETU, the Southern Regional Assembly, Waterford Chambers and WWETB, our ambition is to lessen the inequities within disadvantaged areas and marginalised communities through creating lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Michael Quinn, Director of Services with Waterford City and County Council added, “The advantages of being part of this global network are far-reaching and as we strive to become a Learning City there is further potential to bring cutting-edge technology and innovation to the SME sector through learning initiatives.”

Mr. Valdés-Cotera said, “A people-centred and learning-focus approach builds the basis of a learning society.  We are delighted that Waterford is joining a network of 356 cities across 79 countries.

“This network provides a platform for members to exchange inspiration and knowledge and demonstrate best practice on inclusive lifelong learning.  We are looking forward to working with all the stakeholders to cultivate and grow lifelong learning in the region.”

Following the reception in City Hall, Mr Valdés-Cotera met with members of Waterford Chamber of Commerce Skillnet team, followed by a visit to WCQ Place (Waterford Cultural Quarter), Waterford’s newest Community and Cultural Hub at Barker Place on O’Connell Street and concluded with a tour of SETU Department of Architecture at the Granary building.

As a member of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, Waterford can grow and develop as a recognised city of learning and build upon the strong stakeholder commitment and political support of the Learning City Initiative. The Designation of Waterford as a UNESCO Learning City is strongly supported by regional policy and advances the ambition set out in the Southern Regional Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy to develop Waterford City as a UNESCO Learning City, joining Limerick and Cork City as part of a network of Learning Cities and to develop the entire Southern Region as a UNESCO Learning Region.


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