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Building on books, bytes and people

In September 2020, Bonn became the third German city to join the Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC). This is an initiative of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The international network has about 230 members in 64 countries and promotes the exchange of ideas and concepts that enable lifelong learning. The members of the network share a common vision: the inhabitants of their cities should have the opportunity to learn throughout their lives, regardless of age, origin, social status, gender or educational biography. 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations form the framework for the work of the Global Network of Learning Cities. These primarily contribute to the implementation of Goals 4 ("Ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education for all and lifelong learning opportunities") and 11 ("Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable"). In Bonn, the development of the Learning City fits into the context of the municipal Sustainability Strategy. It sets the framework for municipal action until 2030 and the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in Bonn. The motto of ‘Bonn as a Learning City’ is: “Building Sustainability in Bonn on Books, Bytes and People”.

Impulses from the international network can support the development of the idea of the city as a "learning organism" under the guiding principle of sustainability. The goal: Bonn is a city with democratically capable inhabitants who think sustainably and act in a future-oriented manner. Education, and especially informal learning, is a key to unlocking the potential of people and institutions when it comes to finding solutions for a sustainable city. 

Experiences and suggestions from other ‘learning cities’ should contribute to making the local providers of early childhood and out-of-school education, adult education and other non-formal education known to each other in order to support and promote each other's competencies. This applies especially to education for sustainable development.

In order to be able to offer appropriate and attractive educational opportunities to as many Bonn residents as possible, these should become more digital and inclusive. New procedures and methods of knowledge transfer should contribute to this. 

In line with its Sustainability Strategy, the City of Bonn is initially focusing on the following three topics

  • climate-friendly action
  • economic sustainability
  • cultural/social participation.

The City of Bonn is also planning its own activities, including

  • an annual sustainability learning festival
  • a sustainability certificate for citizens
  • a sustainability award.

On September 17, 2021, the Learning City Bonn was presented at an event at Haus der Bildung. Due to the pandemic situation, it could only take place in a very small setting. 

Frequently asked questions about the Learning Cities mission statement