On 20 November, the CEB started its session with the examination of the reports of its High-Level Committees on programme, management, and development, which were endorsed after a fruitful discussion.
The Director-General was then invited to brief the CEB on the activities carried out by the Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board, which was established in September 2013 and is hosted by UNESCO. She mentioned that SAB is composed of 26 eminent scientist, of which half are women, and its central function is to strengthen the interface between science and policy, so that the latest scientific findings are reflected in the high-level policy discussions. She underlined that the SAB has already produced several policy papers and recommendations to the Secretary-General and the Member States on a wide range of issues, including on the role of sciences, technology and innovation for the definition of the SDGs and related targets; on the interface between science and policy in addressing climate change; and on the importance of equitable access to quality data.
The SAB will also be involved in a major conference in July next year in preparation for the COP21. In concluding, the Director-General invited the CEB members to attend the next meeting of the SAB which will be held at UNESCO Headquarters on 10 and 11 December next.
The Board then held an in-depth exchange on the UN system’s contribution to a data revolution. The discussion benefited from the participation of Professor Giovanni, co-chair of the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, who introduced the Report of the Expert Group.
Addressing the Board, the Director-General underlined that new sources of data cannot replace traditional data and “we should therefore not lose sight of the importance of improving the availability and use of traditional data -- It is essential to avoid increasing the digital divide” she said.
The Director-General underscored that “to build a truly representative and sustainable data revolution, it is critical not only to collect and compile data, but also to analyze, use and disseminate the information”. Existing UN coordination mechanisms such as the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities - of which the UNESCO Institute of Statistics is an active member - provide a solid ground for working on these issues.
The afternoon session was devoted to a review of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals at the country level and to assess progress made by the UN system in Lao PDR (with a focus on nutrition for women and children), Pakistan (with a focus on education) and Yemen (with a focus on employment for youth and women).
The aim of the review is to better align UN-system wide support to the implementation of country owned acceleration action plans, as well as to encourage greater support to overall MDG acceleration efforts. The UN Resident Coordinators and World Bank representatives in the three countries presented the situation on the ground.
In her intervention, the Director-General highlighted the effort being made by UNESCO to support educational programmes in Pakistan and the establishment of the Malala fund for promoting girls’ right to education.
She draw the attention of the Board to the high illiteracy rate in the countries under review and recalled that there are still 800 million illiterate people in the world. She also stressed that even when children are going to school, there is a low retention rate. In Pakistan, 1 in 5 children dropped out of school before reaching second grade, in particular girls.
“Poverty, lack of access to quality education, illiteracy, unemployment and political instability are interlinked and it is therefore essential to break this cycle” she said.
In the evening, the Director-General attended a dinner hosted by the Managing Director of the IMF, Ms Christine Lagarde, for the CEB.