Edmonton is now a UNESCO Learning City

Edmonton has been recognized internationally as a community dedicated to excellence in learning for all, and is the first Canadian city to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) network of top education cities in the world. 

“As a community of learners, we celebrate this opportunity to connect with like-minded cities around the world,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “Our openness, cultural diversity and curiosity make Edmonton an excellent addition to the Global Network of Learning Cities.” 

Edmonton joins cities including Hamburg, Shanghai and Beijing in the prestigious network that fosters partnership and builds capacity to promote a culture of learning throughout life to enhance social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity. 

UNESCO is an agency of the United Nations that fosters international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture. Its Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) promotes lifelong learning to enhance social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity.

“Our ambition is to attract a million more people over the coming few decades to our city of eager learners, energetically looking to embrace new ideas, emerging technologies, and ways of working and learning,” said Sohi.

Learning city

A learning city promotes lifelong learning for everyone. A lifelong commitment to learning can play a significant role in both individual and community development. Learning cities collaborate across sectors and with Network members to promote good policy and practice to deliver on the UN Sustainability goals. This individual empowerment and collaborative approach to community-building is fundamental to the health and well-being of every successful society.

UNESCO defines a learning city as a city that:

• effectively mobilizes its resources in every sector to promote inclusive learning from basic to higher education;
• revitalizes learning in families and communities;
• facilitates learning for and in the workplace;
• extends the use of modern learning technologies;
• enhances quality and excellence in learning; and
• fosters a culture of learning throughout life.

Building on the strengths of the Edmonton Public Library’s City of Learners initiative and award-winning community learning programs, Edmonton has unique attributes that showcase the city’s learning city strengths. Edmonton has some of the finest internationally-ranked public primary and secondary schools, universities, colleges and trade and technical schools. The city’s strong education system is accessible and creates conditions for a better quality of life. This is the foundation of Edmonton as a learning city.  

Learning brings people and communities together. Learning opens doors. Learning strengthens the economy. Learning creates a lively city for people to work, live and play in. The City of Edmonton is committed to providing access to lifelong learning programs for all residents.

“The City of Edmonton’s Community Learning Action Plan demonstrates its commitment to fostering a culture of learning that promotes inclusive and sustainable development and growth for its citizens.”

– Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Let’s celebrate Edmonton’s commitment to lifelong learning and the many opportunities our city offers across our community. Here are some great examples of City initiatives that add to our learning city portfolio.

Root for Trees

Learn about Edmonton’s urban forest and the many benefits it provides. By volunteering with Root for Trees, residents will learn how to expand the urban forest through tree, shrub and wildflower plantings, care for naturalized areas by reducing weed competition and protect local habitat and biodiversity.

An example of a naturalized area with new seedlings

kihciy askiy

Being built near Fox Drive, kihciy askiy (sacred land) will be an urban land area for Indigenous cultural activities.  It will be a place where diverse Indigenous cultures can practice essential ceremonies and transfer teachings and knowledge.

It will be a place of healing that reinforces cultural traditions, a place that makes the individual and community stronger.

kihciy askiy is located near Fox Drive in southwest Edmonton

Indigenous Art Park ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞

ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞, pronounced (EE-NU) River Lot 11, features six artworks by Canadian Indigenous artists. ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) is a Cree word meaning “I am of the Earth”.

ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ is situated on ancestral lands of the Indigenous peoples whose descendants entered into Treaty with the British Crown resulting in the territory opening for settlement. River Lot 11 acknowledges the historic river lot originally home to Métis landowner Joseph McDonald. ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ was opened in September 2018.

ᐃᐢᑯᑌᐤ (iskotew) by Amy Malbeuf

Edmonton Valley Zoo

With programs tailored to engage and entertain people of all ages, the Edmonton Valley Zoo provides visitors an up-close and in-depth opportunity to learn about endangered species, adaptations and people, along with amazing artifacts. 

Visitors watch a zebra at the Valley Zoo

John Janzen Nature Centre

Learn about nature through play. The John Janzen Nature Centre takes visitors for a walk on the wild side with programs, events and interactive exhibits designed to promote awareness and engagement with nature in an urban setting. The Nature Centre, in partnership with the Edmonton Nature Centres Foundation, recently unveiled an updated Tegler Discovery Zone and an all-new exhibit room.

Interactive display at the John Janzen Nature Centre

City Hall School

An Inquiring Minds Site, City Hall School  provides a week-long, inquiry based, hands-on learning experience. Students, teachers and parent volunteers gain a richer understanding of the services that the City provides to meet the needs of Edmontonians. With that knowledge comes an increased sense of civic pride.

Students from across the city visit City Hall School throughout the year

Fort Edmonton Park

Providing the best in living history, Fort Edmonton Park offers a variety of options so visitors can create their own unique experiences in and out of time.

Rowand House at Fort Edmonton Park

John Walter Museum

Explore the houses, get hands-on experiences and learn about John Walter, his family, his community and his experiences as a settler in the Edmonton region. Visitors will learn about the relationships that humans have with the land.

John Walter’s first house, built in 1875

Outdoor Adventure Programs

Spend some quality time learning a new skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Outdoor Adventure Programs are offered to community groups, Edmonton and area schools, corporations and the general public.

Orienteering is one of several skills that can be learned and enjoyed outside in City parks

Editor’s note: the Learning City illustration at the top of the page is courtesy of UNESCO.