UNESCO Chair launched in emblematic room of Lisbon City Council

Sala do Arquivo, in Paços do Concelho, in the Lisbon City Hall, welcome distinguished guests who attended the solemn session to launch the UNESCO Chair - The City that Educates and Transforms. The President of ISEC Lisboa, Doctor Cristina Ventura, delivered the first words of this session. “Today we officially announce the launch and implementation of the new UNESCO Chair - The City that Educates and Transforms. This is the 20th Chair awarded by UNESCO to a Portuguese educational institution, the 4th awarded in Portugal to a polytechnic higher education institution and the 2nd to a higher education institution in the private subsector”, she began by saying.

“This Chair is supported by an international network with the same name (RICET - The City that Educates and Transforms International Network) led by the Instituto Superior de Educação e Ciências de Lisboa and is constituted, at the moment, by 12 educational institutions, both non-higher and higher education, university and polytechnic of a public, private, community and foundational nature in Portugal, Brazil and Guinea-Bissau”, she explained about their unification by the International Cooperation Programme. As a way of highlighting the importance of involvement and openness between all partners, Doctor Cristina Ventura justified the choice of the location for this opening day of the Chair. “On a first note, I would like to tell you why we are holding this ceremony here in this magnificent hall (...) We intentionally and symbolically selected this place, seeking to display what we want to be and do within this project, promoting an open academy, with strong interaction and proximity to local communities, dialoguing with the entire local administration in the search for joint construction of solutions. It is my duty, therefore, to thank the Lisbon City Hall for the kind receptiveness they have given us from the very beginning”, she added before giving the floor to Jaqueline Moll, representative of the Universidade Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, who, at the ceremony, gave voice to the Brazilian member partners who make up this consortium.

Jaqueline Moll, in her speech, left some references as sources of inspiration, with UNESCO reports from the 70s to the challenges of today. “It is time to acknowledge our challenges and needs, our strengths, and to recognize ourselves as fellow travelers, united in the task of creating a civic and sustainable world for current and future generations. Environmental themes certainly crossed the Chair, as they are necessary”, she highlighted.

In his in-depth speech, Professor Pedro Lourtie, guest speaker at the honour table of this solemn session, recalled some of the principles of the UNESCO Charter of Educating Cities and left some challenges for this working group. “(…) education goes far beyond the school walls to reach the whole city.”; “(…) There is a permanent process that aims to build up a community, and a free, responsible and supportive citizenship (…)”; “A citizenship aware of the challenges that humankind faces (…)”; “(…) an eco-social crisis, which puts the lives of an important part of humankind at risk (…)” as a general guideline in the face of the challenges of current times, decades later: “Environmental challenges; The challenges of democracy; The challenges of social justice; The challenges of mobilizing the intervention. In conclusion, questions/tools for the action of these partners, their “contribution to the reflection on the City that Educates and Transforms. What objectives should we prioritize and how to intervene in the city? How to mobilize human, physical and financial resources? How to involve citizens and benefit from their skills and resources? How to meet populations, different social groups and understand their motivations and concerns? How to fight discrimination and promote social justice? How to promote social cohesion? How to improve environment in the city and in the world? How can we make the city a better place through education?”

From UCCLA - Union of Portuguese-Speaking Capital Cities, Vítor Ramalho highlighted: “The Chair that we are going to start here takes us to what UNESCO is, and it was UNESCO that a few years ago recognized the Portuguese language as a worldwide language (World Portuguese Language Day, celebrated on 5 May) stressing the fact that language, as a factor, impacts some of the Portuguese-speaking peoples but above all is an economic instrument nowadays. On the other hand, it takes us to the cities, where most of the world's population is living today”, he warned.

Sofia Athayde, Councilor of the Lisbon City Hall, whose responsibilities and executive powers include, among others, Education, Youth and Citizenship, was one of the honourable guests. When addressing those present and after congratulating the award of this Chair, by UNESCO, to this group of educational institutions, she thanked, on her behalf and on behalf of the city, for “choosing Lisbon for this event that is so important for all of us. For Lisbon City Hall, it is an honour, a privilege and a great joy to welcome you to this room that is so special, so representative of our home”, she began by saying. "We believe that it will be another determined step towards fulfilling our firm purpose of making Lisbon an increasingly educational and, therefore, transformative city", she praised.

After handing over the protocols to the partners, who now take on roles at RICET - The City that Educates and Transforms International Network, a Port of Honour took place, to mark the signing of this commitment and responsibility undertaken, that everyone is strongly aware of, and whose confidence is sincerely appreciated, as highlighted by the President of ISEC Lisboa, Doctor Cristina Ventura, who expressed her “gratitude to UNESCO for trusting ISEC Lisboa, and all the institutions, assuring you of our firm commitment to the guiding principles of UNESCO and the UNITwin cooperation programme”.