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Tongyeong, Republic of Korea

  • City population: 
    143,545
  • City/Urban area: 
    239
  • Population Density: 
    More than 500 inhabitants per km²
  • GDP – city: 
    Between USD 15,000 and USD 25,000
  • GDP - country: 
    USD$ 27,221
  • Average number of years of schooling: 
    12

Learning and sharing for a sustainable future

Located at the heart of Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park, Tongyeong has long been known for its natural beauty and excellent weather. Tongyeong is also associated with Korean patriotic folklore, with many battles won around Hansando Island during the Japanese invasion of the 1590s. Today, its inshore waters are some of the cleanest in the world, with a wealth of marine life which supports Korean fisheries.

Vision and Motivation

In 2005, Tongyeong was designated the first Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development in Korea and the eighth in the world by United Nations University. As one of the earliest local initiatives to promote sustainability through education, the city has been working to introduce the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in formal, informal and non-formal education programmes. Designated a lifelong learning city by Ministry of Education of Korea in 2007, Tongyeong has since focused on promoting a widespread culture of learning and facilitating sound governance and collaborative network of education institutions. Under the vision of an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable city which cultivates pride in its citizens, Tongyeong has been leading education for sustainable development in the Republic of Korea.

Challenges and Goals

  • Aging society
  • Population decline on the islands
  • Decline in the youth population
  • Damages to cultural assets

Plan and Implementation

In its role as RCE, Tongyeong works to raise public understanding and increase support for sustainable development. The first task is to promote the concept among civil servants and opinion leaders. The RCE will facilitate collaboration between diverse stakeholders by opening discussion opportunities and joining existing education programmes. This will contribute towards creating a common vision of sustainability among members of the society.

In 2015, RCE Tongyeong Sejahtera Forest and Sejahtera Centre for RCEs in Asia Pacific was opened to serve as a platform for ESD in the region. Sejahtera Centre is collaborating with 25 cities in Asia and the Pacific region to create a global learning space. RCE Tongyeong was invited as to join UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP) as a key partner in 2015.

Through such domestic and international networks, Tongyeong plans to promote ESD to support global efforts for SDGs. 

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