Local authorities play a key role in lifelong learning provision both as a provider and also as partner with other stakeholders, writes Emer Costello in her column in the Speakers’ Corner series.
As Lord Mayor of Dublin back in 2009/10, I had a remarkable window on the City and the huge level of activity that takes place in communities across the City. I also became acutely aware of the important role local government plays in the promotion and development of sustainable communities.
The collaborations between the City Council and communities included initiatives to promote biodiversity in the City, community gardens and allotments, cultural programmes, local history and heritage projects and community arts programmes, and were far-sighted and had lasting impacts on their communities. This was sustainable development in action throughout the City.
In 2009, six years before the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dublin City Council was one of the first local authorities to sign up to the EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in which Cities committed to cutting CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 and increasing resilience to climate change.
In 2019, Dublin City joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities reflecting the wide variety of initiatives that foster lifelong learning and education that are taking place at local level.
HENCE, IT WAS DEEPLY disappointing, and not a little puzzling, to see Dublin City Council state in their recent Corporate Plan (2020–2024) that SDG 4 (Quality Education) was an area where the Council made a “low contribution”.
While accepting that local authorities in Ireland do not have responsibility for local education provision, this statement undermines the immensely valuable educational work being carried out by the Council in communities across the City.
Local Authorities are critical actors with the capacity to complement and expand the impact of country-level educational policies by adopting a proactive and inclusive approach.
I suspect Dublin City Council may not be the only local authority to fail to appreciate the role they have in creating learning communities for sustainable development.
Education must be viewed as a lifelong learning endeavour that transcends traditional or formal schooling. Local government plays a key role in lifelong learning provision both as a provider and also as partner with other stakeholders such as local businesses, job centres, the voluntary and community sector, and other education and training providers.
By delivering lifelong learning strategies and programmes across formal and informal settings, local authorities are empowering communities and social actors to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are vital for achieving them. Local Authorities are critical actors with the capacity to complement and expand the impact of country-level educational policies by adopting a proactive and inclusive approach.
They drive innovative initiatives that both transform their communities and contribute to the achievement of Agenda 2030. At the same time, they are mobilising, articulating and forging partnerships between different local actors in education such as academia, civil society organisations, and the private sector.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the “localisation” of the SDGs is central to their delivery.
Coming towards the mid-way point of the SDGs (2015-2030) there is need for renewed sense of urgency. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the “localisation” of the SDGs is central to their delivery. In order to succeed, however, the localisation of the UN Agenda 2030 must be accompanied by a comprehensive programme for lifelong learning that engages the citizens and ensures their buy-in.
Ultimately, local strategies for the achievement of global goals cannot be delivered in isolation – localisation of the SDGs must be a core element of international and national strategies.
Not only must there be a strong acknowledgement of the role that cities, regions and local government play in the transformation of communities, there must also be a legal and financial framework to back this up. Local government must be supported in their endeavours towards the creation of learning communities for sustainable development.