Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to support the request for UN recognition of 30 November as the «International Day of the Educating City», in line with the proposal made by the International Association of Educating Cities (IAEC), made up of close to 500 cities in the world. The institutionalization of such celebration would contribute to raise awareness on the importance of education in the city and to make visible the commitment of local governments to lifelong learning.
Present-day recognition of the importance of cities in the global agenda for inclusive and sustainable development is unprecedented. In September 2015, U.N. member states agreed on 17 global goals to end poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change by 2030. Among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is an «urban» goal, «SDG Number 11» calling on the international community to make cities «inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.» A few months later, in October 2016, the United Nations’ HABITAT III conference -an international gathering convened every twenty years- adopted the «New Urban Agenda» which would further align domestic policies and international cooperation across the globe with the objectives of SDG11.
Proclamation is laudable; action is essential. Cities are the largest and arguably most complex product of human enterprise. As cities are made by humans, they necessarily are imperfect. As cities are complex, humans invariably struggle to bring the totality of urban reality into a single vision. We tend to isolate those aspects of urban life which give us pause, approaching with singular solutions and agendas intended to «fix» a particular urban condition. This piecemeal approach tends to distract us from the larger objective of nurturing cities as holistic places of promise.
Unidimensional approaches to urban life drive us towards conventional technologies, strategies, and innovations, which, while laudable, are insufficient. We need to expand policy goals beyond favoring any particular group no matter how creative it may be. All of which underscores the importance of the International Day of the Educating City.
Therefore, I give my support to the establishment of 30 November as the lnternational Day of the Educating City.
Blair A. Ruble
Woodrow Wilson Center