“Inclusive quality education is the golden thread that runs through all 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” stated the President of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, at the opening of the High-level SDG Action Event on Education that he convened at UN Headquarters on 28 June.
Joined at the opening session by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed and the Founder of Building Africa’s Future Foundation, Saul Mwame, Mr Thomson called for a “massive scaling up of efforts. We have to transform the way we think invest, partner and deliver on education. We have to get the wheels of implementation moving faster than they have been.” For this, he recommended higher investment in early childhood, teachers, innovation, lifelong learning along with educating young people to take ownership of the SDGs.
The Director-General commended Peter Thomson for his powerful vision of education. “Education is the foundation for inclusive, sustainable development. It is a wellspring of hope and peace,” she said highlighting that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind, and that this must start on the benches of school. “Education is a transformational force that cuts across all of the SDGs, that makes all progress sustainable across the board.”
“For the moment, this is not happening,” warned the Director-General explaining that 264 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school – most of them girls, 50% of refugees have no access to secondary education.
In this context, the Director-General called on every government to make education a priority and to allocate 4-6% of their gross domestic product to education. She underscored the importance of “transforming education to empower everyone with the values and skills they need for resilience, for sustainability, for dialogue and peace in societies of rising diversity, and the importance of harnessing innovation, to increase the reach of education and enhance its quality.”
Quoting the President of Colombia, Manuel Santos, the Director-General said, “More resources for education means less for war. An educated people is a peaceful people.”
Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed affirmed that “SDG4 is the docking station for all the other Goals,” and cautioned on the scale of unfinished business. She focused on action in five areas: new approaches to financing; new ways to harness innovation to deliver education to the hard to reach; a bolder resolve on girls’ education, especially at secondary level; TVET and lifelong learning and reaching those trapped in humanitarian crises. “There is no better investment than education for a future of peace and resilience,” she said.
This was echoed by 18-year old Saul Mwame of Tanzania: “my parents never went to school but they were determined to make sure I have an education. Sustainable development comes through quality education that fosters creativity and prepares youth to be responsible problem-solvers in their community.” Now with his Building Africa’s Future Foundation, he is striving to sensitize parents to the importance of educating sons and daughters, and to create awareness that “disability is not inability”. Dreaming of becoming an aeronautical engineer, he affirmed that “everyone has a role to play in the implementation of the SDGs for this and the next generations. Nothing is impossible as long as we are committed and take action.”
Throughout the event, Ministers and education advocates took the floor to share experiences and put forward strategies to achieve SDG4, with emphasis on innovation, humanitarian situations, and education for global citizenship and sustainable development.
UNESCO’s leading role in coordination of SDG4 was recognized by the keynote speakers, with members of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee participating in the event.
On the sidelines of the event, the Director-General met with Norway’s State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Laila Bokhari, Slovakia’s State Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport Olga Nactmannova and UN Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo.
UNESCO’s vast network of Chairs and Networks specialized in the Natural Sciences are meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on 05-07 July 2017 to unite their efforts towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This conference marks the first meeting of the UNESCO Chairs and Networks in the Natural Sciences. It will be opened by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General of CERN; Krystyna Marty, Deputy State Secretary of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; Yves Flückiger, Rector of the University of Geneva; and Andreas Mortensen, Vice-President for Research, Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.
The 2030 Agenda represents a significant step forward in the recognition of the contribution of science, technology and innovation (STI) to sustainable development and as a driving force, not only for economic growth and prosperity, but also for environmental sustainability, development and social inclusion. The 2030 Agenda offers immense opportunities to reconnect science to society and to build a new basis for research and development as a key precondition for both science and society to flourish. In this context, the 172 UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks that are specialized in science have an important role to play, as bridge builders between the scientific community, decision makers and society.
Together they will define the “Geneva Milestone”, an outcome document to improve cooperation between Chairs, UNESCO and the United Nations System in order to strengthen the contribution of science, technology and innovation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The conference is organized by UNESCO with the kind support of Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Université de Genève, CERN and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
The opening ceremony will take place at the Université de Genève on 05 July 2017. It is open to the press.
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The Global SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee will take place on 29-30 June 2017 in New York. The inclusive high-level stakeholder partnership provides a forum to coordinate global education efforts and guide action at country level.
As stated by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO: “In our mandated role to lead and coordinate SDG4, UNESCO convenes this multi-stakeholder SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee to ensure coordinated support for the realization of education targets and commitments within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Education is at the heart of sustainable development and the necessary foundation for achieving the SDGs by 2030.
“Since 2015, the education community - led by UNESCO - has come together even more determined to coordinate efforts, from the Incheon Declaration adopted at the World Education Forum in May 2015 to the Framework for Action leading to the first global Steering Committee for the implementation of a Sustainable Development Goal,” added Jordan Naidoo, Director of Education 2030, UNESCO. “The Steering Committee provides the structure we need to bring together all partners and to work towards the common goal of quality education at national, regional and international levels,” continued Mr. Naidoo.
The Steering Committee is composed of 38 members representing a majority from Member States, as well as co-convening agencies, international and regional organizations. It is supported by four working groups focusing on policies and strategies; financing of education; review, monitoring and reporting; advocacy and communication.
For its third global meeting, the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee will focus on:
Education in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is not restricted to SDG4. The Steering Committee engages with the wider United Nations Sustainable Development Goal structure at global, regional and national levels. At the global level, it responds to requests for inputs including from the High-level Political Forum, the UN’s central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. Its role is of pivotal importance, bringing together efforts at national, regional and international level for coordinated efforts for education throughout life.
The last meeting of the Drafting Committee of a draft Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris is taking place 28-30 June 2017.
More than a year after the establishment of the Drafting Committee, the preparation of the future Global Convention by the group of twenty-three experts from all regions is reaching its end. Appointed by the Director-General in cooperation with UNESCO Member States, the experts applied their outstanding experience and background on recognition and related issues toward the elaboration of a preliminary draft of a future Global Convention.
The draft aims to include essential elements for the recognition of higher education qualifications at the global level today with a view to enhancing inter-regional and global mobility of students, researchers and researches. The preliminary draft will be submitted to the UNESCO Governing Bodies in October and November 2017, which will decide on the next steps for further consultations and eventual adoption of the text as a Convention.
Working in their private capacity, the Drafting Committee’s Members have undertaken discussions via an online platform and three previous face-to-face meetings held in Paris (May 2016 and February 2017) and Rome (September 2016). The aim of this fourth and final meeting is to finalize the preliminary text and incorporate the results of the initial round of consultations carried with Member States May to June 2017 on the key aspects of the draft.
The first real attempt at the development of a global normative instrument on the recognition of qualifications in higher education was made in 1992. A joint meeting of the six regional recognition convention committees convened in Paris with a mandate to explore the feasibility of adopting a Universal Convention on the Recognition of Studies and Degrees in Higher Education. After a the preparation of a feasibility study (2012-2013, approved at the 37th General Conference) and a preliminary report (2013-2015, approved at the 38th General Conference), it was in November 2015, by a General Conference decision (38/Resolution 12), that the preparation of the Global Convention was undertaken by the establishment of the Drafting Committee.
The future Convention does not establish automatic or mutual recognition to its Parties, but will serve as a normative instrument to build an international framework to harmonize the recognition processes of higher education qualifications issued from all regions in the world.
UNESCO acknowledges the work of the Drafting Committee and its mission of drafting a text for the Global Convention on Recognition, for further consultations with all stakeholders into reality.
Giuseppina Nicolini, former Mayor of Lampedusa, Italy, and the French nongovernmental organization SOS Méditerranée today received the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
The many personalities taking part in the ceremony spoke of the challenge posed by the migration crisis affecting countries around the Mediterranean. They also stressed the need to welcome refugees with respect for their dignity and humanity.
“The tragedy of migrants and refugees raises questions about dignity and solidarity today, all our concepts of mutual aid, public action and social justice and should be seen through this lens,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, who praised the courage and determination of the laureates.
The Director-General went on to thank them for reminding the world that, “migrants are neither a burden nor a threat. They are the mirror of the humanity we all share in all its dignity and responsibility.”
“The commitment and determination of the two laureates are models for us and for future generations,” declared President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire. “In awarding you this prestigious recognition, the Jury of the Prize, calls on the international community to ensure that the Mediterranean cease to be the stage of tragedy but that it become a place of intercultural exchange, solidarity and dialogue.”
“The migration crisis facing the countries of the Mediterranean and all of Europe represents a historic challenge due to its scope,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. “It is the biggest movement of population since the end of the Second World War. In fighting to save the lives of refugees and migrants and undertaking to welcome them with dignity, the laureates have taken on board an ideal of human fraternity to which I pay tribute today,” he declared.
The Director-General of UNESCO presented the Prize to the laureates:
Giuseppina Nicolini, who distinguished herself by fighting for the rights of migrants when she was Mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa from 2012 to 2017, said: “I feel that everything I did was quite ordinary. Every corpse that washed ashore outraged me, because all of those drowned bodies came from boats about which nobody would have been aware in the absence of survivors. I refuse to think it is inevitable that fortress Europe cause the death of people who will not let war, persecution, violence and poverty kill them […] I simply rebelled against the idea that Lampedusa be sacrificed on the altar of selfishness.”
SOS Méditerranée, an NGO dedicated to rescuing lives in the high seas, was created in 2015 by European citizens who mobilized to face the humanitarian emergency unfolding in the Mediterranean.
“The primary duty that befalls us all, and we have no choice in this, is to give a hand to those who are drowning. It is a matter of absolute urgency to run a rescue operation worthy of its name and commensurate with the tragedy we face. Because thousands of lives can be saved,” declared Sophie Beau, co-founder of SOS Méditerranée.
“Our goal is that the Mediterranean become a humane, civil sea,” added Klaus Vogel, another co-founder of SOS Méditerranée at the ceremony.
Other distinguished participants at the ceremony included: Abdou Diouf, former President of Senegal and Sponsor of the Prize, Henri Konan Bédié, former President of Côte d’Ivoire, Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie, Maria Böhmer, Germany’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vincenza Lomonaco, Italy’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and Joaquin Chissano, former President of Mozambique and President of the Jury of the Prize.
The Felix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize was created in 1989 to honour individuals and active public or private bodies or institutions that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace.
The international jury is meeting to choose five programmes for this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes from 27 to 29 June at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
The specific theme of this year’s Prizes is ‘Literacy in a Digital World’. Digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialize, as is the way literacy is understood, learnt and taught as part of a broader set of knowledge, skills and competences required in our contemporary societies.
Today, there are 758 million illiterate adults and 264 million out-of-school children and young people worldwide. Promoting literacy is a core element and mission of UNESCO’s Education Sector.
Together, with relevance to this year’s theme, the International Jury will also consider the other areas. For the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, supported by the Republic of Korea, the use and development of mother tongue in learning, educating and training is a key part. The promotion of literacy for adults in rural areas and out-of-school youth, especially girls and women, is the focus for the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, supported by the Peoples‘ Republic of China.
In response to the call for nominations launched on the 15 of May 2017, many applications were received from all around the world from NGOs, governmental programmes and from other institutions and individuals.
Mr David Atchoarena, Director of the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems, opened the International Jury meeting at UNESCO on 27 June. The International Jury, made up of five members evaluated the applications in order to recommend five programmes to the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova.
The International Jury is composed of prominent experts from all regions of the world: Dr. Raafat A. Radwan, a senior consultant to the Arab Labour Organization for Human Development (Egypt); Ms. Helen Abadzi (Greece), an education specialist who served at the World Bank for over 27 years; Ms. Maria Aurora Carrillo Gullo (Colombia), a CEO and educational director of the Transformemos Foundation; Mr. Willy Ngaka (Uganda), a founding and sitting National Coordinator for the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Makerere University; and Mr. Yimin Yuan (China), the Vice President and Research Fellow of Jiangsu Agency for Educational Evaluation.
The Prizes are awarded each year to individuals, governments and non-governmental organizations in recognition of their distinguished contribution to the promotion of literate societies. Each prizewinner will receive a monetary award of US $20,000, a silver medal and a certificate at the Award Ceremony, which will take place at UNESCO Headquarters on 8 September 2017, in commemoration of the International Literacy Day.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly is convening a High-Level Event on Education on 28 June 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to drive efforts and raise awareness on inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The event seeks to highlight the growing momentum around the implementation of SDG 4, including in the area of SDG Learning. It also aims to shed light on the obstacles and opportunities for achieving universal access to quality education and lifelong learning including through technical and vocational education and training. “Education is a development multiplier, a pillar of global citizenship and a force for peace,” says UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova.
Sustainable Development Goal 4, education, is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and essential for the success of all Sustainable Development Goals. National governments and the international community need to ensure quality education for all. This includes smart, innovative measures to reach young learners, as well as relevant education and training required to address common social, environmental and economic challenges across the world. Equal educational opportunity for girls and women is also critical in achieving gender equality, reducing child mortality, delaying marriage and generating female leaders.
Many strong advocates for education will also be present at the event including, among others, Dessima Williams, Special Adviser, SDG Implementation, Office of the President of the General Assembly, Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Saul Mwame, Founder of the Building Africa's Future Foundation.
There will be discussions between Ministerial participants and panelists on what is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 by 2030 with Alice Albright, CEO of Global Partnership for Education as moderator. A session on innovation in education, education in vulnerable and humanitarian situations as well as on education for sustainable development and global citizenship will take place. The meeting will also include a TAGe (Talking across Generations) roundtable organized by UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development to engage young people and career experts in a discussion about education. The gathering will also elaborate on how to advance the incorporation of the SDGs into the curricula of every school in the world.
A breakfast event with Save the Children, co-hosted by UNESCO, will concentrate on accelerating progress for the most marginalized and vulnerable children with a specific focus on experience in Jordan and Indonesia, as well as, the role of technology in accountability and the link between education and nutrition.
Raising awareness of the new development agenda, fostering better understanding about the SDGs and their interconnectedness and promoting global citizenship, all play an instrumental role in making progress not only towards SDG 4, but also towards the entire Agenda 2030.
The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, denounced today the killing of reporter Véronique Robert, who died on 24 June in France after being injured by an explosive device in Mosul (Iraq).
“I deplore the death of Véronique Robert” said the Director General. “Violence of any kind is unacceptable, and especially when it is used to silence those who shed light on a society in conflict.”
Veteran journalist, Veronique Robert was assigned to Iraq for the France 2 TV channel’s programme “Envoyé Spécial”.She was transferred to a hospital near the French capital after being seriously wounded on 19 June. Two of her colleagues, Stephan Villeneuve and Bakhtyar Haddad, lost their lives during the same attack.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
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UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
"Teachers have such a great task, because you are teaching the next generation”, said UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Education Qian Tang, when he visited a training workshop on Education for Sustainable Development, held from 5 to 9 June in Lusaka, Zambia. “Most importantly, when they grow up, they have to be responsible citizens who can make positive contribution to society, to peace and to sustainable development. When you do teach, do not forget that you are teaching a noble cause."
The workshop was one in a series of training activities entitled “Sustainability starts with teachers” targeting teacher education institutions. It was organized by UNESCO and partners as part of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust project “Today for Tomorrow: Coordinating and Implementing the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development”. Forty-six participants from teacher education institutions (TEIs) in four Southern African countries – Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – attended the event.
The training targeted teacher educators at secondary school level, as their efforts are crucial to bring about significant changes in education practices and teachers’ pedagogies. After the workshop, trainees are expected to implement their ‘Change Project’ in their workplace and share their newly acquired knowledge with colleagues in TEIs and with their students who will become teachers in the future.
“As an educator, the training opened up doors to new methods, approaches and strategies – how I can help learners to think differently and how they can address issues affecting Zambia and the whole world,” said Lilian Chipatu from the University of Zambia. “Sometimes teachers give them just information and instruction, but really learners must be empowered to take correct action.”
Frank Mtemang’ombe, from Chancellor College, Malawi, promised to share this experience with other teachers. “I believe that every teacher educator should understand the knowledge we all got here,” he said. “In college, we will able to set up a team to develop relevant skills and to analyse our own context – where do we stand, and where do we go.”
The programme included a field visit to a water and sanitation business in a poor urban area. Justin Lupele, an independent consultant on environmental education in Zambia, organized this visit and explained the necessity of ESD in this region: “ESD is an important aspect of teaching and learning in Southern Africa. We are facing many environmental issues. On one hand, the region has natural resources as a basis of development; on the other hand, there is also destruction and exploitation of them. We need an education that thinks and looks to the future as a better place to be. That’s why ESD is needed as a holistic approach to look at various pillars of sustainable development.”
The project’s overall goal is to support 120 TEIs in the Africa and Asia Pacific regions in strengthening their capacity to promote ESD. It also responds to Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, in particular to Target 4.7 which aims to ensure that by 2030, “all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development” and Target 4.c, to “substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers”.
On 26 June, UNESCO hosted the annual meeting of the Security Management Group (SMG) that regroups seven heads of UN agencies and security focal points in France (UNHCR, ICAO, ILO, IMF, UNEP, WFP, WB, and IARC)
In her capacity as UN Designated Official for Security in France, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, underlined the need to continuously adapt security measures to the changing environment. She encouraged the SMG members to engage in stronger Inter-Agency cooperation and information sharing. “Our collective efforts are required to constantly improve security postures and to raise awareness among staff”, she said.
Building on the lessons learnt over the last two years, the SMG agreed on the need for streamlined communications in the event of security incidents. The group went on to discuss the Minimum Operating Security Standards that are mandatory for all UN office facilities worldwide.
In future, SMG meetings will be held twice a year rather than once, in order to effectively strengthen contacts between all UN entities in France.
Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) was named World Book Capital for the year 2019 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee which met at the Headquarters of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) at La Haye.
The city was selected because of the very innovative, comprehensive and inclusive nature of the application, with a community-focused activity program containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population.
"I applaud the nomination of Sharjah as the World Book Capital as well as the efforts undertaken by the city in order to make reading available to as many people as possible, in particular the marginalized populations, as a motor for social inclusion, creativity and dialogue" Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, declared.
With the slogan "Read - you are in Sharjah", the program focuses on six themes: inclusivity, reading, heritage, outreach, publishing and children. Among other things there will be a conference on freedom of speech, a contest for young poets, workshops for creating Braille books and tactile books as well as many events for Sharjah's multi-ethnic population.
The city's objective is to foster a culture of reading in the United Arab Emirates and birth new initiatives to meet the challenge of literary creation in the area and in the rest of the Arab world.
Running parallel to this chain of events, Sharjah will also launch Sharjah Publishing City, a space entirely dedicated to publishing and printing. It will be the first place of the kind in the region, specifically developed to meet the needs of companies and institutions operating in the publishing field. Its objective is to reinforce the book industry by encouraging the widespread production and dissemination of publications in the Arab world.
The year of celebrations will start on 23 April, 2019, on the World Book and Copyright Day.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading and to organize activities over the year. As the nineteenth cities to bear the title since 2001, Sharjah follows Athens (2018) and Conakry (2017). Past winners include Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Anvers (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam(2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Erevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016).
The application of the city of Sharjah was accepted by an Advisory Committee, comprising representatives of the International Publisher's Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and UNESCO.
For more information: http://en.unesco.org/world-book-capital-city
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The Approval Committee of the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport met on 14 June 2017 to discuss the revitalization of the Fund and new applications submitted by State Parties to the Convention.
The tenth anniversary of the Fund, celebrated this year, represents a strategic opportunity to take stock of progress achieved, enhance implementation and increase sustainability. Accordingly, Members convened, for the third Approval Committee meeting of the 2016-2017 biennium, to exchange ideas around the Fund’s revitalization, strengthened partnerships and future activities. A significant part of these discussions was the urgency for resource mobilization if the Fund, as a public asset, is to continue supporting least developed countries in the roll-out of much needed in-country activities.
A series of proposals were debated for continued reflection during the next meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Parties (COP), taking place in Romania, on 29 June, before submission to the COP6 to be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, from 25 to 26 September 2017.
In terms of advancing the anti-doping fight on the ground, the Committee approved 11 initiatives (including one regional project) worth approximately US$215,000. This means that, since its launch, the Fund has supported 218 projects led by 108 countries. Among the newly approved projects, three were submitted by States Parties that have never previously benefitted from the Fund (Chad, Honduras, and Ukraine).
For the first time, all applications presented to the Committee included financial contributions from the applicant, reinforcing the engagement of public authorities and the sport movement. Other positive trends include the use of multimedia tools, values-based outreach campaigns and broad multi-stakeholder partnerships at national, regional and international levels.
The following projects were approved by the Committee:
For more information, visit the Fund’s website.
Peace is about preferring ballots rather than bullets, arguments to weapons, democracy to violence," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in an address at UNESCO before more than several hundred people, included among them the representatives of the Member States, and the organization’s governing bodies.
“But others do not see it that way. For fear, hatred and the desire for vengeance can weigh heavily (…) on the soul of a society," the President and winner of the 2016 Nobel peace prize added. "And our task – whether we're intergovernmental organizations like UNESCO or representatives of each nation in the world – our task is to ensure that those feelings and energies are replaced by the constructive power of love, tolerance, respect of society and compassion."
"I am saddened to say that in Colombia, we were losing our compassion, over the years of watching so many massacres and so many attacks being broadcast daily by the media. Our capacity to feel moral pain had been deadened."
"Today, we are starting to see the future under another angle and consider yesterday's enemies, who agreed to lay down their guns, as members of a society where everyone has their place, even if we might personally disagree," he continued.
"The tools we need to do that are the ones that UNESCO promotes and must keep promoting: education, culture, science and communication" Mr. Santos reiterated, pointing out that "for the first time in the history of Colombia, the biggest allocation in the national budget went to education, before security and defense." He also stated his willingness to launch a civics’ training plan with the support of UNESCO and its experts.
Referring to the organization’s Constitution, which urges the building of peace in the minds of men and women, President Santos stressed that it was "probably the most important written text in the world today, tackling fanaticism, extremism and rampant calls for hate and exclusion. "We, too, in Colombia want to build peace in our minds and we want peace to be a reality in the whole world," he declared.
The President of Colombia ended his speech by evoking five out of the ten points in the Charter of Bogota, signed in the Colombian capital during the Sixteenth World Summit of the Nobel Peace Prize winners, which was held in February 2017 in the presence of the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. These principles are "Peace is a right. We are one. We are many. We have to educate. We have to understand."
In her welcome address, Ms. Bokova reaffirmed the "total commitment of UNESCO to the support of Colombia during the process of peace consolidation,” adding, “at the end of five years of fratricidal war and intense suffering, Colombia showed us the power of dialogue and of the will to seek reconciliation. More than ever, we need your vision to inspire and guide the other leaders of the world to do the same," she said. "The people of Colombia and you, Mr. President, are now magnificently writing the history of your country, of your continent, for the world," she concluded.
During the visit, the President of Columbia held a bilateral meeting with the Director-General. The meeting was an opportunity for UNESCO to reaffirm its unfailing support to the peace process in Colombia, as the combatants had surrendered their weapons to the forces of the United Nations present in Colombia.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maria Angela Holguin, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism, Maria Claudia Lacouture, the Ambassador of Colombia in France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Federico Renjifo, as well as other members of his government accompanied President Santos.
On 22 June 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, visited the temporary exhibition “Us and Them – From Prejudice to Racism” at the Musée de l’Homme, in Paris. Accompanied by William Bell, Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, lead city of the U.S. Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination, the Director-General was welcomed by Pierre Dubreuil, Chief Operating Officer of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNDN), André Delpuech, Director of the Musée de l’Homme, and Evelyne Heyer, Professor of the MNHN and Curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition, under the patronage of UNESCO, offers an original immersive scenography that aims to provide a scientific insight on racist behavior and prejudices. Running until 8 January 2018, it also features UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR as a robust platform for combating racism and discrimination, and promoting inclusion and diversity in societies.
At the crossroads of anthropology, biology, sociology and history, the exhibition is backed by experts’ research undertaken in the fields of social and human sciences. It offers a journey that deciphers the reasons for racist and discriminatory behavior during certain moments of history. It also provides keys to understanding the personal reflection to deconstruct prejudices that oftentimes persist. The public is invited to understand the individual and collective mechanisms that lead to the rejection of “the others” and to raise awareness on modern-day discriminations.
Within the framework of the exhibition, panel discussions and workshops are being organized where representatives of ICCAR member cities are invited as speakers. The exhibition will be travelling to a number of cities, including in ICCAR member cities, in 2018.
On 22 June, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria, H.E. Boril Banov, and his team during their visit to Paris.
They discussed the situation of cultural heritage in Bulgaria and the measures to enhance its protection, as well as the role of the Regional Center for Intangible Heritage in Southeast Europe and other areas of mutual interest.
Mr Banov thanked the Director-General for her leadership in safeguarding cultural heritage and her visionary work at UNESCO. He commended the role of UNESCO in addressing contemporary issues regarding the protection of cultural heritage across the world, especially in conflict zones.
Mr Banov met also with Dr Mechtild Roessler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center. He underscored his strong commitment to work closely with the Center to draft and implement an innovative approach for managing World Heritage sites in Bulgaria.
UNESCO is organizing, Friday, 30 June, from 9 am to 6 pm at its headquarters, a High-level Conference on “Fostering Women’s Empowerment and Leadership”, launching the series of events on “UNESCO’s Soft Power Today”.
The Conference will gather over 50 high-level personalities and renowned experts from around the world and will serve as a platform to identify promising pathways for inclusive and innovative partnerships to work on women and girls’ empowerment and leadership, building on UNESCO’s achievements to date.
Some of the personalities include, Ms Rula Ghani, First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Ms Aïcha Bah Diallo, Founder of the Forum for African Women Educationalist, and Ms Miriam González Durántez, Founder of Inspiring Girls International.
The day will start with an opening ceremony followed by three parallel panels in the morning and afternoon.
The three morning sessions entitled “Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development - The Power of Women’s and Girls’ Education", "Breaking Gender Stereotypes - The importance of role models in changing cultural norms" and "Leadership and Power - Women in Politics" will take place from 11 am to 1pm .
The afternoon session will focus on "Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development - Women, Peace and Security", “"Breaking Gender Stereotypes - Challenging the status quo" and "Leadership and Power - Women in Business" from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm.
The event will conclude with a closing ceremony with all participants where a Statement will be presented to renew the commitment of the Organization as a champion for the promotion of Gender Equality in the international arena.
Journalists wishing to attend the conference should request accreditation.
Contact: Djibril Kebe, email@example.com; +33 145 681 741
On 22 June 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the opening session of a one-day conference, entitled ‘Madame de Staël: a woman of our times,’ on the occasion of the bicentennial of her passing. The event took place in the presence of several personalities, including the former President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Mr Pascal Roger Couchepin, the former Minister of National Education of France, Mr Xavier Darcos, and Mr Jacques Berchtold, the Director of the Bodmer Foundation (Switzerland).
Madame de Staël was a French woman of letters of Swiss origin. Through her culture and her passionate commitment to freedom, Germaine de Stael revolutionized political literature and contributed to the creation of modern Europe.
The event was organized at the initiative of the French, German and Swiss Permanent Delegations to UNESCO, and the French National Commission for UNESCO, to honor Madame de Staël’s unique voice and to share her universal message of mutual understanding and peace.
In her remarks, the Director-General highlighted Madame de Staël’s contribution to shaping European citizenship.
“It is perhaps her most precious legacy -- to affirm that one can be passionately French, Swiss or German, and at the same time deeply European, and citizen of the world”, said Irina Bokova.
“Germaine de Staël is also a symbol of an ambition at the heart of UNESCO’s work – the idea that culture, literature, a free press can change the world and societies”, underlined the Director-General, insisting on the strong links between de Staël’s writings and convictions, and UNESCO’s own mission and mandate.
Mr Daniel Janicot, President of the French National Commission for UNESCO, recalled the context in which this day of commemoration was organized, with the aim to shed light on the many insights offered by Germaine de Staël, and their strong relevance to addressing major contemporary challenges.
The Chairperson of the Executive Board, H.E. Mr Michael Worbs, speaking on behalf of the 58 Member States of the Executive Board, commended the organisation of this day of commemoration, reflecting on a unique European thinker, who can still provide, 200 years after her death, many sources of inspiration for contemporary societies.
H.E. Ambassador Stefan Krawielicki, Permanent Delegate of Germany to UNESCO, underscored one of the main dimensions of de Staël’s work, her promotion and defence of the “regards croisés” between nations, States, peoples, convinced by the idea that everyone should “see himself/herself through the other’s eyes”.
Mr Rainier d’Haussonville, descendent of Madame de Staël and co-heir of the Castle of Coppet, in Switzerland - de Staël’s last home - emphasized the importance of safeguarding, promoting and diffusing the spirit of her legacy, along the lines of the “Groupe de Coppet”.