2021 UNESCO Learning City Award goes to Al Wakra, Qatar
On 7th of November, a press conference was held at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment to announce the city of Al Wakra as one of UNESCO Learning Cities 2021. The award was announced at the 5th International Conference on Learning Cities, which was held recently in South Korea. Al Wakra received the award for implementing its strategy to transform into a sustainable city through lifelong learning, with a focus on vulnerable groups.
Aboudan said that cities have become central to providing learning opportunities and enabling their citizens to adopt to the demands of a rapidly changing world and gain the knowledge to work together to solve global challenges, as well as to create a climate for fairer and more sustainable societies and a better future for all.
The UNESCO Learning City Award is a biennial award presented to cities to facilitate quality education and provide lifelong learning opportunities, particularly for marginalized communities. Cities and urban areas play an integral role in the development efforts of countries since they are the springboard for economic activities and entrepreneurship opportunities. The award recognizes development efforts made by government bodies and private entities to implement policies and embrace development efforts that encourage sustainable developments. This means that growth and development efforts that are aligned with sustainability are given precedence.
Al Wakra’ ‘s Strategies For Sustainable Development:
Nowhere is this commitment to community and learning more apparent than Al Wakra. With some 80,000 inhabitants, Al Wakra is an outstanding example of how uplifting communities give rise to a prosperous society. The city has adopted a solar-powered lighting project on a mass scale, enabling sustainability. The city also offers free education to people with special needs to enable them to become self-sufficient and contributing members of society. Increasing leadership opportunities also emphasized the role of women. The aim is to achieve sustained development and harness learning so individuals can prove their worth. Raising awareness on environmental issues is a top priority, along with achieving economic growth.
The Way Forward:
UNESCO’s Doha office has particularly recognized the hard work done by the municipality of Al Wakra in uplifting the community and providing a model, which can be implemented elsewhere in the country. According to UNESCO’s GCC and Yemen office, the recognition received by Al Wakra municipality is a clear indication that the city is moving in the right direction and similar policies across the country are the need of the hour.