Limerick joined a select number of cities in being awarded the UNESCO Learning City Award 2017 at the third International Conference on Learning Cities, held in Cork. A jury comprising of 12 international experts from all the UNESCO regions selected Limerick for the award. Only 16 cities from around the world (including Limerick) were given the award in 2017. The award is given to cities that, by putting in place the building blocks of a learning city, have achieved exceptional progress in promoting lifelong learning.

Institute of Lifelong Learning

UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), located in Hamburg, Germany, is one of UNESCO’s key education-related institutes and is the only organizational unit in the UN family that holds a global mandate for lifelong learning. Taking a holistic and integrated, inter-sectoral and cross-sectoral approach to lifelong learning as the guiding paradigm for 21st century education, UIL promotes and supports lifelong learning with a focus on adult learning, continuing education, literacy and non-formal basic education. Its activities place particular emphasis on furthering educational equity for disadvantaged groups and in the countries most afflicted by poverty and conflict.

Who are

Irish Network of Learning Cities


The Irish Network of Learning Cities had its first meeting in Cork last November 2018, as part of the Learning Cities Conversations event. The network includes Limerick, Cork, Belfast, Dublin and Derry-Strabane Learning City-Regions. All member cities have adopted the UNESCO Guidelines for Building Learning Cities. The network members share learning and best practice and offer support to each other on issues of common interest to their learning cities. Network members also attend events hosted by the member learning cities; such as the ‘UNESCO Learning Cities’ seminar held as part of the Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival in May 2022.

The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities is an international policy-oriented network providing inspiration, know-how and best practice. Learning cities at all stages of development can benefit greatly from sharing ideas with other cities, as solutions for issues that arise as one learning city develops may already exist in other cities.


UNESCO Definition
of a Learning City

A learning city promotes lifelong learning for all.
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.

In doing so, the city enhances individual empowerment and social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity, and sustainable development.

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