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Using crowdsourced data to help communities prevent disasters

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:28
focus_ireact_dpl.jpg iReact 05 October 2017

Each year, the International Day for Disaster Reduction is an opportunity to acknowledge how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to natural hazards and to raise awareness about ways to rein in the risks that they face. This year’s campaign focuses on reducing the number of people affected by disasters worldwide. Timely access to data is essential to improve both early planning and response, and thus shield communities from disaster. UNESCO is working with European partners on a new system to use social media, smartphones and wearables to improve emergency data management: I-REACT, Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies.

Natural hazards affect millions of people every year worldwide. In 2016, 24.2 million people were forced to abandon their home due to the strike of a natural disaster. Moreover, in the last twenty years over 1.35 million died as a result of their vulnerability and exposure to natural hazards, and over 4 billion were displaced and left homeless, injured or in need of emergency assistance. With the ongoing rise in global temperatures due to climate change, the magnitude and occurrence of extreme weather events is more likely to grow. However, measures and actions can be implemented to mitigate the effects of these disasters.

Since 1989, the International Day for Disaster Reduction promotes a global culture of natural disaster risk reduction. This year, the theme is Home, Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement, in line with the second of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Its objective is to raise global awareness about effective actions, policies and practices that reduce the exposure to disaster risk at the community level. Science and technology play a vital role in saving homes and livelihoods and this is one of the main goals of the I-REACT project.

The I-REACT project is generating the most complete tool for the prevention and management of disasters. One of its key features is a mobile app that will provide citizens and communities with a higher situational awareness in disasters by allowing them to send/receive geolocalised real-time reports compounded with digital information like photos or videos of an emergency event to notify the responders and decision makers. In turn, emergency managers will be able to disseminate crucial data and indications, among emergency operators and citizens, to avoid disaster-affected areas or adopting mitigating measures suitable to reduce the impact of hazardous events.

The crowdsourced information provided by citizens, together with the information scrambled from social media, will be integrated into the stream of data that I-REACT will collect from European Emergency Management Systems like Copernicus and images from satellites and drones. This will constitute a system with detailed risk maps that will allow first responders and authorities to assess and constantly monitor the areas at risk. In addition to this,  information from the field may also be conveyed to civil protection agents and firefighters through smart glasses that will keep them updated while leaving their hands free.

Furthermore, I-REACT will not only be useful in the warning and response phases to a disaster. To lessen the number of people affected, careful prevention measures are foreseen. Thanks to the integrated use of simulated scenarios, seasonal & annual weather forecasts, historical data, and real-time information, I-REACT will be able to contribute to preventing or mitigating disaster, providing detailed risk maps throughout Europe for flood- and fire-related events. This will help decision-makers to take informed and acknowledged decisions for the preparedness of future disasters.

Reacting and preventing disasters is a collective effort, which everyone can contribute to. I-REACT will facilitate and promote the collaboration of all the actors involved in Disaster Risk Reduction, thus reducing the number of people affected. The collaborative project involves 20 European partners, led by the Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB) of Turin. UNESCO, through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and the Geo-Hazards Risk Reduction unit based in HQs, is a strategic contributing partner.

By coordinating the international cooperation package of the I-REACT project, UNESCO works side by side with the civil protection departments of selected European member states. It builds cooperation with UN sister organizations and their programmes, designed in support of new international strategies for DRR and in response to the international humanitarian crisis. The objective is to enhance dissemination activities capacity, share achievements and look for possible synergies with the global communities of potential end-users, scientific and technological communities and, the private sector.

 

Categories: News

Keeping Girls in School

Europaid - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:12
Categories: News

IPDC updates Member States

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:10
news_051017_ipdc.jpg Sean O’Siochru, Albana Shala and David Souter addressed the IPDC information meeting© UNESCO 05 October 2017Representatives of UNESCO delegations were briefed on new developments in the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) on 29 September 2017.

Ms Albana Shala, IPDC Chairperson, opened the meeting by highlighting the success of the IPDCTalks in Paris on 28 September 2017. She noted that there were similar events to celebrate UNESCO’s International Day for Universal Access to Information in other centres as well.

“The IPDCtalks also took place in Montevideo, Uruguay; Ramallah, Palestine, Kinshasa, DRC; Sana’a, Yemen; Apia, Samoa; Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia; Amman, Jordan; Johannesburg, South Africa;, Khartoum, Sudan and Islamabad, Pakistan,” she said. Further IPDCtalks would soon take place in Beirut, Lebanon and Kabul, Afghanistan.

IPDC Council members then heard from a representative of UNESCO’s Internal Oversight Services, Mr Geoff Geurts, who explained the evolving progress in the evaluation of IPDC which had been commissioned by the Council under supervision of IOS.

Mr Sean O’Siochru, the IPDC’s external evaluator recalled that his mandate was to study the costs and benefits of IPDC governance; to assess relevance, efficiency and results during the period 2001 - 2017; and to generate recommendations.

Noting that his findings were still in draft form, Mr O’Siochru reported that he had posed questions such as “What are IPDC’s unique strengths?” and “What does IPDC achieve that other means or intervention types do not, or cannot?”. 

He found that the IPDC acts as an Intergovernmental ‘think-tank’, and sets standards of high technical quality. IPDC’s support for media development projects was impartial and neutral. Another positive was the IPDC computerized system for project rollout for UNESCO Field Offices.

Within the IPDC’s priority areas, Mr O. Siochru noted that journalists’ safety projects had significant potential for positive outcomes on safety and impunity. He assessed that it was too early for the SDGs to have impact, but that the IPDC was on the right track to assist achieving SDG targets and strengthening media in the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks and inter-regional fora.

Summarising his draft recommendations, Mr O’Siochru said that it would be beneficial for the IPDC to:

  1. Debate and develop a strategic framework
  2. Build a communication platform for IPDC innovation
  3. Produce a package of strategically focused interventions annually, including a focus on 2 regions per year
  4. Reinforce fundraising with more effort by IPDC Council Member States
  5. Reinforce Gender transformation across IPDC activities
  6. Review and refine project selection process
  7. Ensure periodic outcome and learning evaluation of IPDC and
  8. Enhance IPDC secretariat position within the Communication and Information sector.

The draft Evaluation will be finalized before the end of the year and submitted to the IPDC governing structures and the Executive Board.

Consultant Mr David Souter then gave the meeting an update on the development of IPDC’s Internet Universality Indicators (IUIs).

He noted that the project is rooted in UNESCO decisions and its Internet Universality concept which built around the ‘ROAM principles’ that advocate for the Internet to:

  • be built around human Rights;
  • be based on Open technology and opportunities;
  • be Accessible to all;
  • involve Multistakeholder engagement.

The meeting heard that, like the IPDC’s Media Development Indicators, the aim of the Internet Universality Indicators was to support governments and other stakeholders to assess progress in their country.  Delegates could contribute in the current phase until the end of November, through the open call for framework comments, and again in the subsequent phase where more detail would be provided.

The consortium that is working on UNESCO’s behalf to develop the indicators includes the Association for Progressive Communications, ICT Development Associates, Research ICT Africa, LIRNEasia and the Latin American consortium, DIRSI.

A final report will be completed in 2018 and the associated indicators presented to the November Council meeting.

Closing the meeting, the Chair said the IPDC is now preparing to accept projects for the 2018 year, and encouraged Member States to help mobilize resources for allocation at the Bureau meeting next March.

Categories: News

Ghana to host 2018 edition of World Press Freedom Day

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:01
news_051017_wpfd.jpg News stand, Accra© Ministry of Information of Ghana 05 October 2017UNESCO and the Government of Ghana will partner to organize the next, 25th global celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in Accra, Ghana from 3 to 4 May 2018 on “Media, Justice and the Rule of law”.

The two-day event (3-4 May 2018) will bring together leading actors from the media, civil society, policy makers, representatives of the judiciary, and academia to discuss latest developments and pressing challenges related to press freedom and the safety of journalists.

A multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, co-chaired by UNESCO and the Ministry of Information of UNESCO, has been set up to oversee the planning of the event. Anna Bossman, Ambassador of Ghana to UNESCO, has said: “In accepting to host the 2018 edition of the World Press Freedom Day, Ghana wishes to demonstrate her commitment to the promotion of freedom of press within our national territorial boundaries, the African continent as a whole and the global community in general.”

It is the fourth time that the global celebration of WPFD will take place on African soil, 27 years after the Windhoek Declaration on free, independent and pluralistic media was adopted and later endorsed by UNESCO's General Conference. The main celebration in Accra is expected to be reinforced by some 100 national events the world over.

The theme chosen for this year’s celebrations will explore the media’s and the judiciary’s respective roles in ensuring the rule of law, including in times of elections, and in safeguarding the fundamental right to freedom of expression and addressing crimes against journalists.

The Accra event is expected to include a range of plenary and breakout sessions, an academic conference on safety of journalists, a youth newsroom and photo exhibitions. Partners interested in proposing panels for the conference are invited to contact UNESCO.

3 May will also serve as an opportunity to remind society that around the world, journalists, editors and media workers, continue to be harassed, attacked, jailed, and in the worst case, killed, simply for exercising their profession. The 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded to a person or an organization having made an outstanding contribution to the defense of press freedom. 

A dedicated website (en.unesco.org/wpfd) and online registration page will be set up shortly on the UNESCO website.

WPFD has been celebrated annually since 1993, when the UN General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day.

Contact persons:

Categories: News

Structure d'Appui à la Gestion de l'Eau (SAGE)

Europaid - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 08:31
Categories: News

Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 04:02
teachers_profe.jpg © Ignacion Marin 05 October 2017Joint Message* on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2017   Teachers are a critical foundation of every society’s long-term strength -- providing children, young people and adults with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their potential.<   But around the world, far too many teachers don’t have the freedom and support they need to do their vitally important jobs. That is why the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day –“Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” – reaffirms the value of empowered teachers and recognizes the challenges many encounter in their professional lives across the globe.   Being an empowered teacher means having access to high-quality training, fair wages, and continuous opportunities for professional development. It also means having the freedom to support the development of national curricula -- and the professional autonomy to choose the most appropriate methods and approaches that enable more effective, inclusive and equitable education. Furthermore, it means being able to teach in safety and security during times of political change, instability, and conflict.   But in many countries, academic freedom and teacher autonomy are under pressure. For example, at the primary and secondary school levels in some countries, stringent accountability schemes have put enormous pressure on schools to deliver results on standardized tests, ignoring the need to ensure a broad-based curriculum that meets the diverse needs of students.   Academic freedom is critical for teachers at every level of education, but it is especially critical for higher-education teachers, supporting their ability to innovate, explore, and stay up-to-date on the latest pedagogical research. At the tertiary level, teachers are often employed on a fixed-term, contingency basis. This in turn can result in greater job insecurity, diminished career prospects, higher workload and lower wages – all of which can restrict academic freedom and undermine the quality of education that teachers can deliver.   Across all education levels, political pressure and business interests can curb the ability of educators to teach in freedom. Teachers living and working in countries and communities affected by conflicts and instability often face greater challenges, including rising intolerance, discrimination, and related restrictions on research and teaching.   This year marks the 20 year anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, which complements the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.   Together, these instruments constitute the main reference framework on the rights and responsibilities of teachers and educators. Both stress the importance of teacher autonomy and academic freedom in building a world in which education and learning are truly universal.   As the world works together to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, we appeal to our partners in governments and across the education and private sectors to commit to building a highly skilled, valued and empowered education workforce. This constitutes a critical path to realizing SDG 4, which envisions a world in which every girl, boy, woman and man has access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.   This means securing decent working conditions and fair wages for all teachers including at the tertiary level. It means providing teachers with training and development. It means increasing the number of quality teachers, especially in those countries with high numbers of untrained teaching personnel. It means removing unnecessary restrictions on research and teaching and defending academic freedom at all education levels. Finally, it means raising the status of teachers around the world in a way that honors and reflects the impact they have on the strength of society.       List d'organizations: ILO, UNICEF, UNDP, Education International and UNESCO  
Categories: News

Conservation completed on Lion of Al-lāt statue from ancient city of Palmyra, damaged by ISIL

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 03:35
leon_palmira_1.jpg © UNESCO 05 October 2017

The 2000-year old statue Lion of Al-lāt, that once watched over the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, stands proudly once again, thanks to UNESCO’s Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage project.

The limestone lion, also known as the Lion Statue of Athena, measuring 345 centimetres and weighing 15 tons, once marked and protected the entrance to the temple of Al-lāt. Since its discovery by Polish archaeologists in 1977, it has been a renowned fixture of the Museum of Palmyra. The statue suffered extensive damage in May 2015, when ISIL forces captured Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“It was an internationally known symbol of Palmyra, it was standing in front of the museum,” explained Polish restorer Bartosz Markowski, who undertook the two-month restoration. At the foot of the statue, between the lion’s legs, lies an antelope, a symbol of the protection that the strong owes to the weak. “It is an exceptional statue,” explains Markowski, “there are no more such statues in Palmyra.”

The Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage project works to restore social cohesion, stability and sustainable development to Syria through the protection and safeguarding of Syria’s rich and unique cultural heritage.

This pioneering initiative, funded by the European Union with the support of the Flemish Government and Austria, and undertaken in partnership with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property and the International Council on Monuments and Sites, protects and safeguards Syrian cultural heritage by providing technical assistance.
The project also works to monitor and document Syrian cultural heritage, develop capacity amongst Syrian experts and institutions, and mitigate the destruction and loss of Syrian cultural heritage through national and international awareness raising efforts.

An important achievement

“The restoration of the Lion of Al-lāt is an important achievement with a symbolic dimension,” said Hamed Al Hammami, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States and UNESCO Representative to Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Ha added “Itit is part of a broader project to protect the unique cultural heritage of Syria, which unfortunately remains at risk.”.

Following the a decision unanimously adopted during the 199th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board concerning the Organization’s role in “safeguarding and preserving Palmyra and other Syrian World Heritage sites,” UNESCO sent a Rapid Assessment Mission to Palmyra from 24 to 26 April 2016, supported through its Heritage Emergency Fund.

They discovered that the Museum of Palmyra had sustained considerable damage, statues and sarcophagi too large to be removed for safekeeping had been smashed and defaced; busts had been beheaded and were lying on the ground in ruin. The fragments of the Lion of Al-lāt were moved to Damascus to await restoration.

The Museum of Palmyra housed invaluable artefacts from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Palmyra. An oasis in the Syrian Desert northeast of Damascus, the city of Palmyra was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world from the 1st to the 2nd century.
Standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, the art and architecture of Palmyra married Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. The Lion of Al-lāt is now on display again.

Emergency Safeguarding

The Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage project works to restore social cohesion, stability and sustainable development to Syria through the protection and safeguarding of Syria’s rich and unique cultural heritage.

This pioneering initiative, funded by the European Union with the support of the Flemish Government and Austria, and undertaken in partnership with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property and the International Council on Monuments and Sites, protects and safeguards Syrian cultural heritage by providing technical assistance.

The project also works to monitor and document Syrian cultural heritage, develop capacity amongst Syrian experts and institutions, and mitigate the destruction and loss of Syrian cultural heritage through national and international awareness raising efforts.

Categories: News

UNESCO and El Salvadorian universities to introduce safety of journalists in journalism programme

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 00:20
conference_gender_ci.jpg © UNESCO

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica and universities in El Salvador will be developing action plans aimed at integrating themes related to the safety of journalists, including digital safety into the journalisms programme and curricula, so as to better prepare future journalists to improve their own safety and to be more effective defenders of freedom of expression.
This follows the signing of the UNESCO Charter on Journalism Education and Safety of Journalists by Don Bosco University, the National University of El Salvador and the José Simeón Cañas Central American University. The three universities together account for more than 70 percent of journalism students in the country. The Charter was launched during the Regional Forum on Journalism Education and the Safety of Journalists in Honduras on 29 June 2017.
During the UNESCO-organized event, several journalism professors in welcoming the opportunity to work with UNESCO noted that many journalism students graduate...

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica and universities in El Salvador will be developing action plans aimed at integrating themes related to the safety of journalists, including digital safety into the journalisms programme and curricula, so as to better prepare future journalists to improve their own safety and to be more effective defenders of freedom of expression.

This follows the signing of the UNESCO Charter on Journalism Education and Safety of Journalists by Don Bosco University, the National University of El Salvador and the José Simeón Cañas Central American University. The three universities together account for more than 70 percent of journalism students in the country. The Charter was launched during the Regional Forum on Journalism Education and the Safety of Journalists in Honduras on 29 June 2017.

During the UNESCO-organized event, several journalism professors in welcoming the opportunity to work with UNESCO noted that many journalism students graduate without practical and theoretical knowledge to adequately address safety issues including physical threats, hacking and online harassment which are faced by journalists in the region. They also recognized the need to review the journalism curricula and programme to include many contemporary these including freedom of expression online, digital safety and gender equality in the news.

The UNESCO Charter which is being currently being reviewed by over a dozen of the largest universities in the region focuses on cooperation in many areas including developing joint activities to commemorate World Freedom Day, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists and World Radio Day, capacity building for teachers, the adoption of UNESCO model curricula on journalism education, and the development of courses on journalism safety. The strengthening of relations with Universities is a key strategic component to building coalitions to promote the safety of journalists and the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Categories: News

Stakeholders support UNESCO framework on the safety of journalists in Honduras

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 00:05
seguridad_periodistas_hn.jpg © UNESCO

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica continues to dialogue with stakeholders on the development of the Honduran Strategic Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The online dialogues are an extension of the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity which took place on 2 October 2017 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. During the event UNESCO presented a draft framework plan which was revised by a wide range of partners including Reporters Without Borders, the College of Journalists and the Association of the Honduran Press. The framework was the result of previous consultations with other partners including the Freedom House, Article 19, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The over 70 participants including the Vice Minister of Human Rights Norma Cerrato were in agreement of the need for such a strategic document and developed recommendations for strengthening...

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica continues to dialogue with stakeholders on the development of the Honduran Strategic Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The online dialogues are an extension of the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity which took place on 2 October 2017 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. During the event UNESCO presented a draft framework plan which was revised by a wide range of partners including Reporters Without Borders, the College of Journalists and the Association of the Honduran Press. The framework was the result of previous consultations with other partners including the Freedom House, Article 19, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The over 70 participants including the Vice Minister of Human Rights Norma Cerrato were in agreement of the need for such a strategic document and developed recommendations for strengthening the document and generated ideas about the initiatives that should be implemented in Honduras in the areas of prevention and protection of journalists. The plan is a collective response to challenges such as intimidation, harassment, physical and digital threats, and assassinations that journalists, including women face. The combination of these challenges, including the murders of over 25 journalists during the last ten years which were condemned by the UNESCO Secretary General, creates an atmosphere of fear, promotes self-censorship and lowers the level of press freedom and freedom of expression.

The inter-sectoral plan which will be completed by the end of 2017 is guided by the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and is based on strategic cooperation at the national, regional and international levels between all stakeholders including journalists, the government, universities and NGOs, to promote the safety of journalists. The plan outlines all the areas in which stakeholders will work together, outlines mechanisms to facilitate coordination and the development of policies and initiatives, and the reduction of duplication of efforts and initiatives by various partners. The plan which places an emphasis on gender equality covers several strategic areas including the following:

Raising awareness on the threats facing journalists

  1. Capacity building for journalists, security forces, journalism students, journalism professors and other key stakeholders
  2. Proving legal support to journalists
  3. Developing protection mechanisms and programmes

The finalization of the strategic plan will be followed by the development of an action plan which will identify the specific activities and projects to be implemented by various partners from 2018.

UNESCO's role in the development of both the national action and strategic plans, and the organization of the Conference reflects its coordinating role in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action. The UN Plan of Action which is a strategic framework recognizes that the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity requires continuous collaboration and coordination at all levels of society.

Categories: News

UNESCO developing strategic plan on safety of journalists for El Salvador

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 21:02
seguridad_periodistas_sv.jpg © UNESCO

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica is finalizing a Strategic Plan for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in El Salvador following discussions on a draft framework plan during the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity, organized on 31 August 2017 in San Salvador, El Salvador. The event was organized by the regional office with the support of a wide cross-section of stakeholders including the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES).
The document which covers the period 2018 to 2022 is a collective response to challenges such as intimidation, harassment, physical and digital threats, and assassinations that journalists including women face. The combination of these challenges, including the murders of two journalists between 2014 and 2016 which were condemned by the UNESCO Secretary General, creates an atmosphere of fear, promotes self-censorship and lowers the level...

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica is finalizing a Strategic Plan for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in El Salvador following discussions on a draft framework plan during the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity, organized on 31 August 2017 in San Salvador, El Salvador. The event was organized by the regional office with the support of a wide cross-section of stakeholders including the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES).

The document which covers the period 2018 to 2022 is a collective response to challenges such as intimidation, harassment, physical and digital threats, and assassinations that journalists including women face. The combination of these challenges, including the murders of two journalists between 2014 and 2016 which were condemned by the UNESCO Secretary General, creates an atmosphere of fear, promotes self-censorship and lowers the level of press freedom and freedom of expression.

The inter-sectoral plan which will be completed by December 2017 is guided by the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and is based on strategic cooperation between all stakeholders including journalists, the government, universities and NGOs at the national, regional and international levels, to promote the safety of journalists. The plan outlines all the areas in which stakeholders will work together, outlines mechanisms to facilitate coordination and the development of policies and initiatives, and the reduction of duplication of efforts and initiatives by various partners. The plan which places an emphasis on gender equality covers several strategic areas including the following:

Raising awareness on the threats facing journalists

  1. Capacity building for journalists, security forces, journalism students, journalism professors and other key stakeholders
  2. Proving legal support to journalists
  3. Developing protection mechanisms and programmes

The finalization of the strategic plan will be followed by the development of an action plan which will elaborate the prospective activities and projects to be implemented by various partners from 2018. Discussions on the development of the action plan began during the UNESCO-organized conference in El Salvador which attracted the participation of over 100 representatives from universities, associations of communicators and journalists, think thanks, the private sector, the diplomatic corps, UN agencies and NGOs promoting human rights.

During that event, the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Communication and Information Frank La Rue called upon participants to work together to protect journalists. He noted that “If freedom of expression is guaranteed, if having diversity and pluralism for the audience is guaranteed, if the safety of the communicators is guaranteed, then the flow of information is going to be guaranteed, and public access to information will be guaranteed and therefore. Not only will freedom of expression be guaranteed as a fundamental right but the exercise of democracy will be guaranteed which is fundamental for any country.”

The Vice Minister of Security Raul Lopez who also delivered opening remarks lauded UNESCO for the initiative and reiterated his government’s commitment to protecting journalists and promoting freedom of expression.

"We want to ensure the safety and physical of all journalists’ security, because... [they] ensure freedom of the press, freedom of expression and ensure democracy in our country,”

UNESCO's role in the development of both the national action and strategic plans, and the organization of the Conference reflects its coordinating role in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action. The UN Plan of Action which is a strategic framework recognizes that the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity requires continuous collaboration and coordination at all levels of society.

Categories: News

Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and the OCP Foundation

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 19:43
agreement-with-morocco-ocp-infocus.jpg © UNESCO

On Tuesday, 3 October 2017, UNESCO had the pleasure of signing an important Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and the Office Chérifien des Phosphates Foundation (OCP Foundation). Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Moustapha Terrab, President and CEO of the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), His Excellency Ms. Zohour Alaoui, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Morocco to UNESCO, but also Mr Firmin Edouard Matoko, Assistant Director-General for Africa, as well as Mr Magnus Magnusson, Director of Partnerships and mobilization of resources to the Division of Social Transformations and Intercultural Dialogue (Social and Human Sciences Sector) attended the ceremony.

In line with a more than 60-year cooperation between UNESCO and Morocco, this Memorandum of Understanding would not have been successful without the immense support of Her Excellency Zohour Alaoui. Within UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy (2014-2021), this agreement is part of the Priority Africa, guiding UNESCO's action. More specifically, it fulfills one of its objectives, which is to coordinate a reflection on the future of Africa and to strengthen the continent's foresight capacity. This Partnership Agreement is the result of an intersectoral cooperation between the Africa Department - with its Contextual Analysis and Foresight Unit - and the Social and Human Sciences Sector through its programme “Management of Social Transformations” (MOST).

The Agreement is the outcome of a financial mobilization process initiated by the Africa Department in January 2015 during the last official visit of Mr. Terrab dedicated to the signing of a tripartite agreement between UNESCO, Kush Productions and the OCP. This illustrates the Africa Department's ability to mobilize domestic financial resources with African partners to support the flagship programs of Priority Africa.

Through this agreement, the OCP Foundation will provide a financial support of 3 million USD (2.2 million USD for UNESCO and 800,000 USD for the Mohamed VI Polytechnic University) over three years for the intersectoral project "Imagining the Future of Africa", in line with its role of carrying out the social and societal commitment of OCP Group, an influential actor in Africa. This project, which falls within the scope of UNESCO's Priority Africa, will be carried out by the Africa Department in close collaboration with the Social and Human Sciences Sector.

The project aims to strengthen individual and institutional capacities in ten African countries to define future African needs and use the future for a better socio-economic development. That will enable Africans to explore new opportunities and develop innovative public policies. This will result in the opening of two centers that will play a pioneering role in foresight. One, research-oriented, will be launched at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco, while the other will be located in Sub-Saharan Africa for the implementation of innovative instruments in various fields related to development.

This Memorandum of Understanding paves the way for a fruitful collaboration in the implementation of the Priority Africa, Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

Categories: News

Director-General praises Dr Maamoun Adbulkarim’s commitment as Director General for Antiquities and Museums of Syria between 2012 and 2017

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 19:33
maamounabdulkarim-bels-temple-palmyra.jpg © UNESCO

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova commended Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim at the end of his 5-years’ mandate as Head of the Directorate General for Antiquities and Museums of Syria (DGAM). She praised his unfailing commitment, tenacity and outstanding contribution to the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Syria since 2012

“When history books teach children about those who contributed to conserving Syrian heritage during the devastating conflict in Syria, Dr Maamoun Abdulkarim will be at the top of the list, along with all others who have been so dedicated and deserving of the world’s respect for their relentless, humanist commitment”, said UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova.

"I wish to thank Dr Maamoun Abdulkarim for all these years of collaboration between UNESCO and the DGAM working the sake of humanity’s common good. I welcome Dr Mahmoud Hammoud as new Director General of the DGAM, and I wish to reaffirm UNESCO’s commitment to work side by side with all the professionals and associations active on the ground to safeguard Syrian heritage, which represents the soul of the people in Syria and a force to build peace.”    

Appointed head of the DGAM in August 2012, Dr Abdulkarim supervised 2500 civil servants across the country, working relentlessly on a remarkable heritage protection campaign. A tireless advocate and world-renowned expert, he catalysed wide-ranging international mobilization. Convinced that Syrian heritage belongs to all Syrians and that it must be kept out of politics, he called on the international community to unite and safeguard the UNESCO World Heritage sites which were inscribed on the list in danger in 2013 as well as the cultural objects displayed in the museums of Syria. Supervising the sheltering of thousands of archaeological objects, he called upon his fellow citizens to unite in protecting these ancient testimonies of a common identity and invited them to fight against illegal excavations and illicit trafficking. As a result, more than three hundred thousand objects and archives survived destruction and looting. DGAM professionals devoted themselves with great commitment to this cause, often at the risk of their own lives, and UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of those who perished to keep alive the traces of a civilization and its universal values, such as the archaeologist Khaled al-Assad brutally assassinated in Palmyra. This fight is not over and UNESCO remains more determined than ever to help lead it.

Categories: News

2017 Nobel Prize in physics recognises the observation of gravitational waves

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 18:33
focus_2017_nobel-prize_physics-winners_2.jpg © The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Ill. N. Elmehed 04 October 2017

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves". First predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, gravitational waves were not detected until September 2015. They carry information on the motions of objects in the universe, and their observation opens new avenues of exploration into the history and structure of our universe.

Gravitational waves are produced by massive accelerating objects in the universe such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other. Einstein predicted that their actions would produce waves of distorted space that travel through the universe at the speed of light. The first gravitational wave ever to be detected arrived almost simultaneously at the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories (LIGO), one situated in Livingston (Louisiana) and the other one 3 000 km away, near Washington state, on 14 September 2015. Pioneers Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, together with Barry C. Barish, the scientist and leader who brought the project to completion, ensured that four decades of effort led to gravitational waves finally being observed.

We live in an era where some huge discoveries are really the result of giant collaborations, with major contributions coming from very large numbers of people,” explained Kip S. Thorne to Nobelprize.org. Over 1,000 researchers from 83 organizations and universities participated in the effort, including researchers of the South American Institute for Fundamental Research (ICTP-SAIFR), a UNESCO Category 2 Centre affiliated with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

LIGO adapted the chirp of the gravitational wave to allow us to hear it:

Einstein himself did not believe that the gravitational waves could be measured – a century ago, the technology and precision required was unimaginable. By the early 1970s, both Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss were firmly convinced that gravitational waves could be detected and bring about a revolution in our knowledge of the universe. The signal measured on 14 September 2015, following a collision between two black holes 1.3 billion years ago, was about one thousandth the size of a proton. The precision of the LIGO instrument is “a testament to modern technology and science,” said Barry C. Barish. “I think this couldn't have been done 50 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 30 years ago. It's taken the best modern lasers and control and engineering to be able to do it.

Comprised of two enormous laser interferometers located thousands of kilometers apart, LIGO exploits the physical properties of light and of space itself to detect and understand the origins of gravitational waves. Since 2015, three other gravitational waves have been detected, the latest one on 14 August at the VIRGO observatory (Italy) along with LIGO. Being able to experimentally detect these signals has been crucial to validate Einstein’s General Relativity theory, but it also provides new tools to investigate the history and the structure of our universe, potential modifications of gravity and much more.

Sources:

Documentary about LIGO and the 1st observation of a gravitational wave by the New Scientist:

Categories: News

UNESCO Partners with French National Museum of Natural History

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 16:37
infocus_museedelhomme.jpg © UNESCO / Christelle Alix 04 October 2017
Categories: News

UNESCO, a humanist message in action for the 21st century

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:23
dg-icp.jpg © UNESCO

At the invitation of the Rector of the Catholic University of Paris (Institut catholique de Paris – ICP), Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, Director-General Irina Bokova delivered the inaugural address of the academic year at the ICP on Tuesday, 3 October 2017, on the theme of “UNESCO and the relevance of humanism in the 21st century".

In his opening remarks, Monsignor Vingt-Trois underscored the role of human thinking, "which has a place in the fabric of church, but also a place in the fabric of society". “I sincerely hope that this establishment, with its renewed buildings is also renewed in its mission,” added the Archbishop of Paris.

"This renovated space is intended to serve human study and development," said Bishop Bordeyne, Rector of the ICP, in his welcoming words. "The political and educational mission of UNESCO and that of the Catholic University of Paris have a strong convergence", he continued. "Our Institute is particularly sensitive to the rapprochement of cultures, to the study of the literatures of the world, and associates the humanities with all its other disciplines, with the ambition to accompany every being in the realization of all its potentialities," declared Bishop Bordeyne.

The Director-General was delighted to deliver the inaugural speech at the beginning of the academic year: "We are united in many ways, both respectful of the past and bearers of tradition, both turned towards the future, and it is an honor to solemnly inaugurate the new buildings of the Institute, and to launch the academic year," said Ms Bokova.

"In this unity of high religious and academic authorities, I see a powerful symbol of unwavering commitment to the imperative of the transmission of knowledge, which is the raison d'être of an institution like UNESCO. This is how I see an alliance of wills in favor of education and culture, in an impulse towards the future guided by faith in young people and their potential," she added.

"Within these walls, I see all the signs of a humanist conception of knowledge and training, similar to that which guides UNESCO's mandate and action since its creation," said the Director-General.

Institut catholique de Paris – ICP

Categories: News

UNESCO Partners with French National Museum of Natural History

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 13:18
dg-agreement-le-musee-de-lhomme.jpg © UNESCO

On 3 October 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the President of the French National Natural History Museum, Bruno David, signed a partnership agreement between the two institutions that covers several fields of competence and follows the close cooperation between the Musée de l’homme (which depends on the National Museum of Natural History) and UNESCO, within the framework of the exhibition “Us and Them - From Prejudice to Racism", running until the beginning of 2018.

"I welcome the signing of this partnership agreement, which reflects our vision of the role of museums today, as embodied by the 2015 UNESCO Recommendation on the subject,” said the Director-General. "In this respect, the National Museum of Natural History is an example to us of what needs to be done and its mission fully echoes our own, as the study of the links between humanity and nature, between history and everyday life is also at the heart of our priorities," she added.

Welcoming the signing of this partnership, the President of the National Natural History Museum, Bruno David, reiterated his thanks to UNESCO for the collaboration undertaken to date, especially with regard to the exhibition at the Musée de l’homme”, which features UNESCO's action through the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR), and the fight against racism and discrimination.

“We are honoured by this partnership with UNESCO, which marks the wide and strong commitment of the National Museum of Natural History to the values of tolerance and universalism,” declared President David.

The French National Natural History Museum

Musée de l'homme

Categories: News

Helsingin Sanomat Foundation continues sponsoring UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 10:29
news_041017_sanomat_1.jpg © UNESCO 04 October 2017UNESCO and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation have renewed their cooperation for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize until 2020. The foundation will support the prize with an annual contribution of 15,000 EUR for the next three years.

UNESCO seeks additional partners to join in providing contributions to the Prize, which awards a person, organization or institution that has made a notable contribution to the defense and promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world.

 “Press freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental pillars of democracy and thus at the core of our activities,” says President of the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, Ulla Koski. “The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is happy to continue supporting the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in the coming three years.”

The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has supported the Prize for the past five years, most recently awarded to Eritrean-born journalist Dawit Isaak whose daughter received the Prize on his behalf in Jakarta, Indonesia in May 2017.

The Prize has existed for 20 years;  it was established on the initiative of UNESCO's Executive Board and is formally conferred annually by the Organization’s Director-General on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. The value of the prize is equivalent to 25,000 USD. It is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986.

“The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is one of the leading recognitions worldwide on press freedom and the only one in existence within the United Nations system,” says Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression at UNESCO. She notes that the Prize has become more visible internationally, highlighting individual commitments towards freedom of expression and the challenges and risks the press is facing in today’s world.

In the last five years, four of the five Prize laureates were imprisoned at the time of receiving the award. After receiving the Prize, three of them were later released.

“It is a testament to the impact of the Prize and its potential to contribute to press freedom around the world,” Ms Coudray summarized.

Journalists are living under constant threats. According to UNESCO’s own statistics, issued every second year by in the UNESCO’s Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity and in alternate years in the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Reports, over 800 journalists have been killed in line of duty during the last decade. Most were local journalists working on local stories.

The next UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded in Accra, Ghana, which is hosting the international event for the next World Press Freedom Day on 3 and 4 May 2018. The deadline for submitting new candidates for nomination is 15 February 2018.

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