On Monday 22 June 2015, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the IOC outgoing Officers, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on the occasion of 28th Session of the IOC Assembly. The Officers of the Commission are the Chairperson and five Vice-chairpersons, who are elected every two years in their own capacity by the IOC Assembly.
The Director-General thanked the IOC Officers for their strong commitment to the IOC of UNESCO, notably during the last years when the Organization had to cope with a particularly difficult financial situation. The Director-General specifically thanked the Chairman of IOC, Professor Sang-Kyung Byun, for excellent leadership in his role as IOC Chairman and for representing the Commission worldwide. Ms. Bokova recalled the key importance of the role of the IOC officers during their mandate in spreading information for a better cooperation without which it would not be possible to implement the IOC activities.
The Chairman of IOC, Professor Sang-Kyung Byun, thanked the Director-General for her continued support to the IOC and for engaging in a questions and answers session with Member States during the current 28th Session of the IOC Assembly. Professor Sang-Kyung Byun updated the Director-General on the work (in progress) of the 28th session of the Assembly, with particular reference to the visibility of IOC and its functional autonomy. Professor Sang-Kyung Byun also highlighted the consensus reached by the Assembly with respect to priorities, citing as example the ongoing discussions on climate change and human rights that are increasingly being recognized as inextricably connected.
The Director-General indicated that she was following with great interest the work on the Future of the IOC, which is of crucial importance to further sharpen the IOC mission and raise its visibility within UNESCO and within the UN system. She observed that the reflections of the working group on the IOC functional autonomy and the efficiency of its governance are particularly pertinent now, in the context of the overall governance audit requested by the UNESCO General Conference.
Director-General Bokova noted with satisfaction that the Ocean was recognized in the SDG process as a hugely important part of our common heritage. She also expressed her trust that oceans-related sustainable development commitments can be translated into resonant, viable, and effective action points. She observed that UNESCO, through its IOC, provides a unique vehicle in the UN system for building knowledge and scientific capacity of nations so that these oceans-related sustainable development commitments can be tackled collectively.
Ms. Bokova also stressed that the 28th Session of the IOC Assembly represented an important milestone in this turning point year for the world, as States shape the new global sustainable development agenda and lead negotiations on a new climate change agreement. The Director-General pointed out the leading role of UNESCO and its IOC in setting out a strategic vision for the UN system to deliver on its ocean-related mandates, with particular reference to capacity building, standard setting and governance issues. In this respect, the Director-General would very much welcome the views of the IOC Assembly delegates on future opportunities and the challenges ahead in relation to the implementation of the SDGs and the need for improved coordination among existing mechanisms, particularly at UN level.
The same message was delivered to the newly elected IOC officers on 24 June 2015 during a short courtesy call to the Director-General following their election. Prior to that, the Director-General congratulated the new IOC Chairperson, Dr. Peter M. Haugan, and the new IOC officers on their election and wished them [...] every success in their mandate for the benefit of the ocean and of all Member States.