UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education Health Education, Prevention, Health Promotion, Children and Young People

Lifelong learning for health as a key to building sustainable, equitable, inclusive and resilient cities

From emergency to resilience: Building healthy and resilient cities through learning – 5th UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities

The South Korean city of Yeonsu, a member of UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), hosted the Fifth International Conference on Learning Cities from 27 to 30 October 2021. The event brought together education experts and representatives from the 229 members of UNESCO’s GNLC to discuss the conference theme “From emergency to resilience: Building healthy and resilient cities through learning”. The aim was to discuss how cities can promote health education and contribute to emergency responses, such as those implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities play a key role in responding to health crises.

In his key-note during the plenary session on 28 October, Didier Jourdan recalled the central role of lifelong learning for health in building healthy, equitable, inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities. The health crisis has served as an eye-opener on the challenges of lifelong learning for health and well-being issues. It reminded us that we cannot make people healthy without them or against them. In addition to the issues of urban planning, transport, housing, social services and water supply, which are all crucial determinants of people’s health, cities have an equally crucial role to play in their ability to develop or host ‘learning for health and well-being’ policies and interventions.

Didier Jourdan during his presentation distinguished two inseparable dimensions for learning for health: 

  • It is a means of developing people’s capacity to take responsibility for their own health, which includes knowing how to access, understand, evaluate and apply relevant information. This set of knowledge and skills is often referred to as health literacy;
  • It is also an essential component of citizenship education. Health is not just a matter of individual behaviour and choice. Because one’s choices and actions potentially affect others in the community and the world at large, health involves both individual and collective responsibility and engagement in health-related social and environmental decisions.

The recording of Didier Jourdan’s key note (start at 3h 23 min)

The recording of the Declaration (start at 55 min 45 sec)

More information:

Didier Jourdan speaking at the plenary session on 28 October 2021
Clermont-Ferrand received the 2021 Learning City Award. Didier Jourdan with David Atchoarena, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.