The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meeting in Jeju until 9 December, today inscribed six new elements from Botswana, Colombia and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Mongolia, Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The inscription of elements on the Urgent Safeguarding List helps States Parties to UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage to mobilize international cooperation and assistance to ensure that communities continue to practise and transmit their intangible cultural heritage.
The titles of the newly inscribed elements below (in chronological order of inscription) lead to web pages with information, pictures and videos:
Dikopelo involves vocal singing and dancing in a patterned choreography without musical instruments. Dikopelo is in need of urgent safeguarding, primarily as a result of migration away from farmlands to villages, as well as modern entertainment practices, which threaten its viability. The community and the practitioners are nonetheless committed to safeguarding the element, as illustrated by efforts to compete with groups from other districts and to revive Dikopelo as a strategy to protect young people from social ills.
Llano work songs consist of tunes sung individually, a capella, on the themes of herding and milking. The songs are repositories of the individual and collective stories of the llaneros. The practice nonetheless faces numerous threats to its viability, such as the modification of the social, cultural and natural sites of the songs and alterations to the demographic composition of llanero society. Safeguarding efforts include a pedagogical strategy for bearers and young people, training for schoolteachers and festivals.
According to ancient shamanism, the Mongolian practices of worshipping sacred sites are based on the belief in invisible deities of the natural surroundings. The practice builds a sense of community and raises awareness about the interdependence of human beings and the environment. During the communist regime in Mongolia, the worship of sacred sites was banned, threatening its viability. Communities have been actively reviving the tradition, but several challenges remain, including globalization, urbanization and a drastic reduction in the number of practitioners and masters.
Taskiwin is a martial dance specific to the western High Atlas that gets its name from the horn each dancer carries. It involves shaking one’s shoulders to the rhythm of tambourines and flutes. The practice is threatened by several factors including globalization, young people’s increasing disdain for traditional heritage practices and a decline in the related craftsmanship. The last two decades have nonetheless seen an increased collective awareness among communities, and dedicated associations have been set up to safeguard the practice.
Whistled language is a method of communication that uses whistling to simulate and articulate words. The practice is connected to the rugged topography of the region, which required the local population to find ways to communicate across long distances. Technological developments and socioeconomic changes have led to a decline in the number of practitioners, and the new generation’s interest in the practice has diminished considerably. Communities concerned are nonetheless committed to actively promoting this linguistic practice both nationally and internationally.
Al Azi is a traditional poetry recital performed by a group of individuals without instruments. The practice strengthens bonds in the community and is connected with knowledge and practices related to nature. Due to migration, the enactment of state laws instead of traditional tribal customs and a loss of spontaneity in the art, performance of the practice has diminished considerably. Al Azi has nonetheless withstood extinction thanks to successful safeguarding efforts by the communities concerned, and has recently enjoyed a revival.
The Committee is meeting at the International Convention Centre (IC Jeju), Jeju Province, Republic of Korea
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The United Nations today announced the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to mobilize the scientific community, policy-makers, business and civil society around a programme of joint research and technological innovation.
The announcement of this Decade consolidates efforts by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to boost international cooperation in ocean sciences. It will enable better coordination of research programmes, observation systems, capacity development, maritime space planning and the reduction of maritime risks to improve the management of ocean and coastal zones resources.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay welcomed the announcement and called on all stakeholders to join the scientific cooperation effort of the Organization. “The ocean is a new frontier. It covers 71% of the globe and we have explored less than 5%. The Decade will ensure greater coordination of research. UNESCO’s IOC is proud to be at the forefront of this effort,” she said.
Nearly 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity to meet their needs. It absorbs around a third of the CO2 produced by humans and reduces the impact of climate change. However, science has not yet managed to fully evaluate the cumulative effects of human activities on the ocean, including the impact of pollution, warming and acidification, which threaten this environment, which is vital for our survival. According to the IOC’s Global Ocean Science Report, national spending on ocean sciences accounts for between 0.04 - 4% of the total invested in research and development.
Surveying the ocean requires costly ships and equipment, satellite imaging, underwater robots and remotely controlled vehicles that need significant investment. It also involves thousands of scientists collecting and analysing the data, either in laboratories or in marine environments. One of the priorities of the Decade will be to strengthen and diversify financial sources, particularly for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.
By providing natural, yet innovative solutions for the major challenges facing the planet - from climate change to poverty eradication—the ocean is essential for ensuring our social, economic and environmental balance. This Decade, will provide a framework for international coordination and partnership to reinforce research capacities in marine sciences and the transfer of technology.
The Decade of Ocean Science will help accelerate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, seas and marine resources. This announcement affirms the UN Member States’ support for the IOC-UNESCO initiative expressed during the UN Ocean Conference (New York, 5-9 June) and by the Ministerial Declaration on Oceans and Human Health (Lisbon, 8 September,).
Laetitia Kaci, UNESCO Media Relations, email@example.com, +33(0)145681772
Five days before the day the historic Paris Climate Change Accord marks its 2nd anniversary, UNESCO will host a Forum bringing together international civil society partners to strengthen competencies related to education, natural and social sciences, cultural and communication which contribute to tackling climate change on 7-8 December.
The Forum will precede the One Planet Summit, organized by the United Nations and the World Bank, at the initiative of the French government, which will take place on the 12th and be attended by several world leaders.
Taking stock of the “COP 21 Paris Agreement”, the NGOs will discuss UNESCO competencies, particularly the ocean, as well as cultural heritage, biosphere reserves and indigenous peoples’ knowledge, and the role of civil society organizations.
They will build on UNESCO’s updated Strategy for Action on Climate Change, adopted by the 195 Member States in November at the General Conference. It focuses on several UNESCO programmes which promote interdisciplinary climate knowledge and scientific cooperation for climate change mitigation and adaptation, including those related to hydrology, geosciences, and biospheres, as well as the work of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
Discussions will also devise concrete actions related to UNESCO’s Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change which outlines globally-agreed ethical principles that should guide decision-making and policy-making at all levels and help mobilize people to address climate change.
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On 5 December 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, met with the President of the Republic, HE Mr Rumen Radev, during his official visit to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
The Director-General thanked the President for the long-standing close cooperation between UNESCO and Bulgaria in all areas of the Organization's competence. She expressed hope that this cooperation will be strengthened in the framework of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018.
The President underlined the importance that his country attaches to the protection of cultural heritage and the essential role played by UNESCO in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property. In this regard, the Director-General informed the President of her recent participation in the United Nations Security Council meeting to present the first implementation report of Resolution 2347 on the protection of cultural heritage, which, among other things, calls on Member States to strengthen their national legislation in this area.
The President and the Director-General agreed also on the need to harness new technologies and digital technologies to make cultural and documentary heritage accessible to younger generations. The Director-General underscored the importance of sensitizing young people to respect differences and cultural diversity as a source of wealth.
The President informed the Director-General of his intention to present, as part of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a new initiative aimed at bringing together ten countries of the South-Eastern Europe region for the creation of a institute for sustainable development, as well as a regional research center on particle physics on the model of CERN. Recalling that UNESCO has long-standing expertise in this area, the Director-General confirmed the readiness of the Organization to support Bulgaria in the development of this initiative.
Bulgaria has been a member of UNESCO since 1956. It is home to 3 UNESCO Chairs and 51 Associated Schools, as well as 10 World Heritage Sites, 5 elements inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and 10 Biosphere Reserves.
"With the passing of Jean d'Ormesson, a humanist, lover of language, irreverent writer and mischievous journalist has left us," declared Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.
“I wish to commend the work of this great French writer, who was long a member of UNESCO, during crucial years for the Organization. Jean d’Ormesson lived life to the fullest, especially its joys, deeply engaged in the literary, academic and intellectual worlds, guided by the imperative of always speaking to the widest possible public, his eyes sparkling with mischief and brilliance, as well as a seeming lightness,” added the Director-General.
“I applaud in particular the decisive role that Jean d’Ormesson played as Secretary-General, then President, of the International Council of Philosophy and Human Sciences at UNESCO, a major forum for international cooperation in intellectual matters, to which he contributed for decades, notably through the journal called ‘Diogenes’,” noted the Director-General.
“In my name and on behalf of the(OrgajiZation, I wish to express our sorrow and condolences to his family and loved ones,” said Audrey Azoulay.
On International Literacy Day 8 September 2017, UNESCO’s Education Sector launched its first batch of five case studies as part of the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World. Today, the literacy project launches its second batch in the case study series.
The case studies explore how inclusive digital solutions can help people with low skills and low literacy use technology in a way that supports skills development and, ultimately, advances their livelihoods. In this second batch, the focus is particularly on health, livelihoods and environmental services for low-literate users.
Each case study reveals how the digital solutions were designed with users, the skills needed to effectively use the solutions, the reach and result of usage and, most importantly, the key lessons learned and recommendations for developing other inclusive solutions.
Inclusive digital solutions providing services for health, livelihoods and sustainable agriculture
From Nepal, the case study for Medic Mobile presents an integrated mobile solution to improve maternal and neonatal health through connecting patients with community-based care and frontline health workers, many of whom are low-literate and not digitally skilled. A baseline and post-training survey has shown an increase in digital skills amongst the users. The 950 community health workers using the solution are serving nearly 300,000 people of the Himalayas.
The case study for the MIRA Channel solution by ZMQ Development illustrates how maternal health can be improved and child mortality lowered through a mobile healthcare extension service, which consists of edutainment and health information specifically aimed at low-literate pregnant women and mothers in India, Afghanistan and Uganda. Around 850,000 women, children and adolescent girls have been reached to date. Since the majority of the mothers using MIRA Channel had little to no prior experience using mobile phones, adolescent children or siblings who generally had more experience in using mobile phones were included for assistance and later as target users of the solution. Such peer-to-peer skills support is widely seen amongst low-literate communities using digital solutions.
The Khushi Baby case study involves a wearable technology for maternal and child healthcare in India. The service supports effective tracking of maternal and child healthcare data by community healthcare workers – often low-literate and with low digital skills – and generates data for district-level decision-making related to health administration. The data also drives continual improvements in the evolution of the solution. Through the service, more than 50,000 child vaccinations have already been tracked among 10,000 mothers and children.
The 3-2-1 Service by Human Network International (HNI) and Viamo is an audio-based local-language service that provides on-demand access to livelihoods information, even where there is no internet. The service is being used in 14 countries, mostly in Africa, with eight million unique users making more than 80 million information inquiries. While the audio format enables even low- or non-literate users to gain access to vital information, text-based messages are also available to support literacy practice. A rigorous user-centred process is followed to ensure that the content is relevant, context-specific and engaging for the target audience of each country.
The Nano Ganesh service by Ossian Agro Automation Private Limited provides a mobile-based remote control and monitoring system for irrigation water pumps in India, which saves water and time for around 400,000 farmers. Even low-literate users can practice environmentally-friendly and sustainable farming using the service, which is largely audio-based and requires basic mobile phone skills and numeracy. Ossian Agro’s approach involves training farmers and local technicians on pump installation and usage – sometimes via live video demonstrations – thereby introducing digital support skills to the whole community.
The collaboration between UNESCO and Pearson is part of the Project Literacy movement. Project Literacy brings together a diverse and global cross-section of people and organizations to help unlock the potential of individuals, families and communities everywhere with the vision that by 2030, no child will be born at risk of poor literacy.
The case studies are available for download from the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World page. More information about UNESCO and literacy.
Around 150 national, regional and international stakeholders from over 20 countries participated in the one-day event, the first meeting of its kind in the South Asian country and the main event of the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) 2017.
Between 2006 and 2016, 107 journalists have been killed in Asia according to UNESCO statistics, but only 7% of these cases have been judicially resolved.
Next to national and international experts, representatives from several National Human Rights Commissions in Asia attended the event, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The seminar was opened by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka who stated:
‘The media is the first line of defence against those who seek to undermine our democracy. (…) As a promise to the media, we will investigate and bring to justice those that have ended the lives of our journalists, and send a very clear message that this government will protect the journalists by all measures at hand”.
Commenting on the event, Sri Lankan journalist Sonali Samarasinghe said: “The rule of law is the fulcrum upon which a fair and just society rests and it must work in tandem with the independence of the judiciary, separation of powers and freedom of expression if we are to tread a path of peace and accountability.”
Ms Samarasinghe, the widow of the Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga, who received UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize after he was killed in 2009, added: “The state has a duty to guarantee that the violations we have experienced as a nation do not recur and a special duty to reform those institutions that have proven incapable of preventing the abuses”.
The event included discussion on the establishment of national protection mechanisms to protect journalists and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks against them. A second focus was on developing regional cooperation through National Human Rights Commissions and the civil society, as well as developing capacity of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies in Asia on these issues.
A specific session was also organised on the situation in Sri Lanka, titled: “Review of challenges and achievements”, which examined the state of freedom of expression and investigations on killed journalists in the country.
UNESCO director for freedom of expression and media development, Guy Berger told the participants that the Colombo seminar built further upon previous commemorations of IDEI, organized in San Jose, Costa Rica (2014), Strasbourg, France, (2015) and Arusha, Tanzania, (2016).
Berger noted that the importance of safety of journalists and ending impunity are recognised in the Sustainable Development Goal 16 on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”.
“This Goal calls for the promotion of the rule of law and equal access to justice for all, as well as ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms,” he said.
The regional seminar in Colombo was organized the framework of the commemoration of IDEI 2017 with the support of the Open Society Foundation, with contributions from Norway, Internews, IFEX, International Media Support, Global Voices and the International Federation of Journalists.
UNESCO is the UN agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Since 2012, it has spearheaded the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, a systematic and UN-wide Plan to work toward a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, with a view to strengthen peace, democracy and sustainable development worldwide, in both conflict and non-conflict situations.
Reading literacy is on the rise internationally – in 2016, 96 percent of fourth graders from over 60 education systems achieved above the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 low international benchmark. This is one of the key findings of a report released today by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
To show how large-scale assessments, such as PIRLS, can contribute to achieving the education goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, UNESCO and IEA have also released a joint guidance booklet “Measuring SDG 4: how PIRLS can help”.
Conducted by IEA, PIRLS provides internationally comparative data and trends in the reading achievement of fourth graders from more than 60 education systems. In 2016, the scope of PIRLS was extended to include ePIRLS – an innovative assessment of online reading. The ePIRLS assessment concluded that good readers have an advantage in digital literacy skills, with 50% of students deemed good to excellent readers reaching the PIRLS high international benchmark.
An early start in reading literacy has lasting benefits, with students who had attended pre-primary school for three years or more reporting higher average scores. Supportive home environments, where parents often engage their children in early literacy activities, are also associated with higher achievement scores.
In 2016, female students outperformed their male counterparts in 48 countries and dependent territories by an average of 19 points. Such disaggregated data can inform progress toward Education 2030 target 4.5, which calls to “leave no one behind”.
Finally, the report indicated that safe and well-resourced learning environments with qualified teachers are associated with higher achievement scores. PIRLS 2016 identified a positive trend in school safety, with teachers from 16 countries and dependent territories reporting that schools have become safer and more orderly since 2011.
The UNESCO-IEA booklet also launched as part of today’s international PIRLS 2016 release, provides some examples to demonstrate how the achievement and background data collected by PIRLS can help inform national policies in education and learning, and measure progress toward Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 targets in Education.
SDG4 targets analysed in the booklet include target 4.1 on primary education, 4.2 on early childhood development, 4.4 on skills for work, 4.5 on gender equality and inclusion, 4.a on effective learning environments and 4.c on teachers.
Download the UNESCO-IEA joint booklet
Download the PIRLS and ePIRLS 2016 International Reports
About PIRLS: IEA’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international assessment of reading comprehension that has reported trends in student achievement every five years since 2001. The study represents the worldwide standard for measurement of students’ reading comprehension at grade 4. ePIRLS is an innovative computer-based assessment of online informational reading. Learn more
About IEA: The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), headquartered in Amsterdam, is an independent, international cooperative of national research institutions and governmental research agencies. It conducts large-scale comparative studies of educational achievement and other aspects of education, with the aim of gaining an in-depth understanding of the effects of policies and practices within and across systems of education. Learn more
For more information on PIRLS, contact:
Public information officer IEA
+49 (0)4 048 500 663
Press officer UNESCO
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The International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) is a 45-year long joint-venture between UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). The IGCP has long been recognized globally amongst geoscientists as one of the most successful models for promoting international scientific cooperation in geosciences for individuals sharing a global vision for research. The programme continues to provide opportunities for strong collaboration, capacity building for developing countries and recognition by international peers.
If you are aware of excellent scientists, who have an exemplary track record in a particular field of research and a passion for international collaboration, please suggest to them that they apply to join the IGCP Council. There is no limit to the number of nominations an organization can submit. We especially encourage nominations from female researchers or researchers based in African, Asian or Latin-American countries.
The purpose of this call is to invite nominations for three new candidates to become member of the IGCP Council. All nominated candidates must complete the application form digitally, include a digital copy of their CV (specify publication record, international collaboration and other related activities), a list of their 10 most important publications during the last 10 years and a motivation letter. All documents should be provided in English. This information should be sent directly to the IGCP Secretariat in UNESCO (send firstname.lastname@example.org'; // -->
in copy) before the 12 of March 2018.
A number of these experts, appointed mutually by the Director-General of UNESCO and the President of the IUGS, will be invited by UNESCO and IUGS to join the new IGCP Council as specialists to take up their reviewer tasks according to the IGCP Council’s Terms of Reference. The IGCP Council members’ tasks will be to assess the annual progress of existing IGCP projects as provided in their annual reports and also review several new project proposals for future funding (usually approximately 6-10 per year). For the current call, five members of the IGCP Council will each cover one of the following themes of Earth Resources, Global Change, Geohazards, Hydrogeology and Geodynamic. A sixth member will act as Chairperson of the Council. Within the IGCP Council, each theme is backed-up by a group of 8 to 10 experts, who assists their respective theme leader.
Participants of the 2017 Global Voices Summit held on 2-3 December 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka contributed to three different consultations for the UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators. The events were moderated by Guy Berger, the UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development.
The Colombo consultations surfaced views and suggestions from journalists, the technical community, civil society actors and academics, drawing from the participants attending a global conference convened by the Global Voices network.
The UNESCO engagements were also an opportunity to raise awareness amongst a wide range of actors from Asia and abroad about UNESCO’s concept of Internet Universality.
Citing the major challenges of policy being put into practice, several contributors suggested the separation of indicators about the presence of legal frameworks on Internet issues, from the issue of implementation.
Contributors also suggested the need to the protect Internet Universality by having a strengthened focus on net neutrality, and more reference to the role of media actors in the digital space.
Other participants urged the need for indicators to assess the accuracy of official data which might need to be qualified. The definition of several terms in the draft indicators such “Internet development” of “safe use of Internet” needed to be spelled out.
UNESCO’s project to define Internet Universality indicators aims to build a framework of indicators through which to assess levels of achievement, in individual countries, of the four fundamental principles included in the ROAM Internet Universality concept: R – that the internet is based on human Rights; O – that it is Open; A – that it should be Accessible to all; M – that it is nurtured by Multistakeholder participation.
The indicators project draws on UNESCO’s experience with the Media Development Indicators (MDIs) which were adopted as part of the Organisation’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) in 2008.
As of November 2017, 27 face-to-face consultations have been held in 23 countries in five continents. The contributions received for the Indicators include online consultations where more than 180 contributions have been received.
The Global Voices Summit 2017, brought together bloggers, activists, social media experts and geeks from around the globe to discuss the evolving state of the open Internet, online civic movements, and human rights in the digital age. The summit was attended by participants from more than 60 countries who debated issues of misinformation, disinformation, the disruptions from corporate entities, to legal threats against bloggers and activists and many other challenges that could make or break the future of the internet.
For more information about UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators, see https://en.unesco.org/internetuniversality
Strengthening cooperation between the tourism and culture sectors to boost prosperity and enhance heritage protection is the topic of the 2nd Global Conference on Tourism and Culture, which will be held in Muscat, Oman 11-12 December.
Jointly organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO), it will bring together around 500 participants to explore how these sectors can drive progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.
The Conference will open with a high-level panel with some 30 ministers of tourism and ministers of culture who will address policy and governance frameworks. They will also address the issue of Cultural Tourism as a Factor of Peace and Prosperity.
This panel will be followed by three round-table discussions with professionals from World Heritage Sites and intangible cultural heritage, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and private sector stakeholders. Topics include: tourism development and protection of cultural heritage; culture and tourism in urban development and creativity; and exploring cultural landscapes in tourism.
The Conference will take place in the framework of the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, a unique opportunity to explore and highlight tourism’s potential to help transform our world into a place of prosperity and wellbeing for all. This Conference will build on the interagency partnership formed between UNWTO and UNESCO at the first World Conference on Tourism and Culture held in 2015, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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