Education First, Science Education and Climate Change at the heart of the Director-General’s Participation in UN General Assembly

On 23 September, 2014, the Director-General will join Heads of State, Government leaders, UN High Level Representatives and Civil Society at the Climate Summit, led by the UN Secretary-General, organized in the context of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (19 to 26 of September). With WMO and UNITAR, UNESCO is organizing the Thematic Discussion on Climate Science, with the participation of the Prime Minister of Greenland, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the Director-General of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Co-Chair Working Group I, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Thomas Stocker.

Promoting girls’ education and quality education for all is a highlight of the Director-General’s agenda. On 24 September, 2014, the Director-General will open, with UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and chair the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) High-Level Event, with State Leaders and Ministers from the majority of Champion countries, namely Andorra, Bangladesh, Benin, China, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Guyana, Republic of Korea, Mozambique, South Africa, Tunisia and the United States, represented by First Lady Ms Michelle Obama, as well as Norway, UNESCO's Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown and the principals of UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women, and the heads of Education International, the Global Campaign for Education and the Global Partnership for Education. This will be a major advocacy event, where the Director-General will underline the importance of enhancing quality education in the acceleration toward 2015 and in the new global development agenda to follow. Irina Bokova will also take part in an event hosted by Global Child Forum, with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), on 26 September, entitled “Children in the Age of Sustainable Development. The event will discuss how children’s rights can be mainstreamed and linked into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will attempt to identify a framework for children’s development that can underpin many of the targets and indicators under consideration. Participants include Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine of Sweden and the Mayor of New York as well as the head of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the CEOs of H&M and Ikea. In addition, in the context of the UN General Assembly session, Irina Bokova will participate, with Gordon Brown, in two “Learning for All” Ministerial round tables on the Democratic Republic of Congo and on Pakistan.

During her visit, the first Business Backs Education Summit will bring together corporate executives and leaders from the public sector to advocate for stronger engagement, as part of the Business Backs Education Campaign launched by the Varkey GEMS Foundation with UNESCO.

Advancing science education for inclusive sustainable development features highly during the mission of the Director-General. She will take part in the International Launch of the Global Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Alliance, of which UNESCO is a member. Co-hosted by E. Rubinstein, President of the NY Academy of Sciences and Amir Dossal, Global Partnership Forum, this event is an opportunity to address education, innovation and workforce challenges of the 21st century. It will bring together High-Level Representatives from several countries, including HE Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, HE Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, HE Dr Yayi Boni, President of the Republic of Benin, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, High Commissioner of the African Union for Education and Science, the Honorable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Granada, and Ms Cathy Novelli, Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy & the Environment, United States Department of State.

In a major event with US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the Director-General will be advocating for the safeguarding of cultural heritage in times of conflict as essential to lasting peace and sustainable development. With the Secretary of State, she will take part in an event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 22 September to highlight protection and preservation efforts of Syrian and Iraqi cultural heritage, with also Thomas P. Campbell, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Elizabeth Duggal, Chair of ICOM-US, and Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund.

The Director-General will also participate in the annual meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which she will open with the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Carlos Slim, President of the Carlos Slim Foundation, as co-chairs, and Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, as co-vice-chair with UNESCO.

On 24 September, the Director-General will participate in an event co-hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs of Belgium, HE Mr Didier Reynders, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana, HE Ms Hannah Tetteh. The event, entitled “Towards inclusive societies: empowerment and education as a strategy to prevent genocide”, will take place with the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, HE Mr Marty Natalegawa, and the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng.

In addition, the Director-General will participate in a Panel Discussion on HeForShe on 20 September, organized by UN Women, co-hosted by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson. The Panel discussion entitled “Understanding Gender Dimensions” will discuss how the advancement of gender equality unlocks potential for the achievement of the post 2015 development agenda. Speakers include President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin, Economist and Director of the Earth Institute, Jeffrey David Sachs, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin, Robert De Niro, Kiefer Sutherland and Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi.

On 22 September, the Director-General will participate in the opening of the 10th Plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and in CGI Plenary session of girls’ education. President Clinton, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Michelle Bachelet, Hillary Clinton, Ginni Rometty (CEO of IBM), Aliko Dangote and Julia Gillard will also be present at these events.

While in New York, the Director-General will hold a number of bilateral meetings in the margins of the UN General Assembly.