Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DG's Update on UNESCO Program

On January 18th the Director General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, briefed the Executive Board on the state of the Organization's programs. A few of his comments are reported below:


The Director General reported progress following up the recommendations of the panel which reviewed the two science programs in 2007.

Natural Sciences
UNESCO was proactive in the development of the “Compact on Climate Change”, which was presented as a joint contribution of the United Nations system to the high-level segment in Bali. We also organized a side event to present our draft Strategy for Action on Global Climate Change, which represents UNESCO’s specific contribution to the United Nations system-wide response.

Both the United Nations and UNESCO strategies give special attention to adaptation. The approval at Bali of the creation of an Adaptation Fund highlights the urgent need to support countries already affected by climate change. To this end, UNESCO will extend current research efforts – such as those undertaken by the World Climate Research Programme jointly sponsored by WMO, UNESCO/IOC and ICSU – to include adaptation research. UNESCO will also take the lead in efforts to update and complement the global knowledge-base on climate change, notably through the inclusion of key human and social science inputs, such as work on the ethics of climate change. Programmes in the human and social science sector will be re-focused towards this end. This emphasis on the more “human” dimensions of climate change will be vital to developing effective adaptation measures.......

The celebration in 2008 of the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) provides an important opportunity to stimulate public and scientific debate on climate change, as well as on other issues related to sustainable development.

As lead agency for this International Year, UNESCO will organize a high-level global launch event at Headquarters on 12 and 13 February 2008, in collaboration with the International Union of Geological Sciences.......

Finally, let me recall that the third edition of the World Water Development Report will also focus on climate change. The Inception Meeting, which brought together some 70 experts in Paris last month, has now established the Table of Contents for the Report. I will launch the report at the Fifth World Water Forum, which will take place in Istanbul in March 2009.
Social and Human Sciences

In the field of the social and human sciences, as you know, one of our priorities is to finalize the plan of action for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the celebrations of which I launched at the Organization’s Headquarters on 10 December 2007 in the presence of many distinguished guests, including the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Louise Arbour.
Communications and Information

The Sector for Communication and Information is working to give more strategic focus to UNESCO’s follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society, and to reinforce our engagement with the issues and mechanisms emerging from the WSIS process.

The World Summit highlighted the importance of collaboration and partnership. In this regard, let me mention UNESCO’s very successful partnership with the private sector to develop ICT Competency Standards for Teachers, which has just completed its first phase. Developed in cooperation with Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, these standards are designed to help educational policy-makers and curriculum developers identify the skills teachers need to harness technology in the service of education. They will make a valuable contribution to our efforts to achieve EFA, as part of our broader commitment to building inclusive knowledge societies.

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