The Executive Board of UNESCO Friday ended its 199th session with the adoption of decisions concerning UNESCO’s programmes and management. The session was led by Executive Board Chairperson, Ambassador Michael Worbs, Permanent Delegate of Germany to UNESCO.
Accelerating the reform of the Organization was a key result of deliberations at the Executive Board – to sharpen UNESCO’s delivery to Member States in reaching the new goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as to discuss the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The Executive Board agreed a wide-ranging reform package, starting with proposals on Structured Financing Dialogue, designed to adapt UNESCO to an increasingly complex and challenging financing landscape.
Members of the Executive Board agreed also on a roadmap to strengthen the sustainability of the UNESCO field network, an essential step to act in sync with societies, adapting to evolving needs, as countries move forward. This roadmap provides for an interactive and phased process.
Member States also agreed on the UNESCO Invest for Efficiency Plan -- including Learning and Development Initiatives, and measures to implement the Knowledge Management & Information and Communication Technology Strategy. These are steps to strengthen capacities of staff in key areas to take forward the 2030 Agenda – guided by two objectives: better, clearer, more strategic global, regional and country-level positioning and leadership of UNESCO; and, stronger operational modalities to deliver UNESCO programmes, globally, regionally and locally.
In taking forward Global Priority Gender Equality, the Executive Board decided to request the Secretariat to improve gender-related performance indicators and to establish a budget tracking system by 2018.
The Executive Board also took important decisions to reaffirm Member States’ commitment in a number of programme areas for the Organization -- from reinforcing UNESCO’s role in safeguarding and preserving Palmyra and other Syrian World Heritage sites, to the strengthening of education of girls and women, including expanding UNESCO’s engagement in open educational resources.
In Decision 199 EX/28 the 58-member Executive Board condemns violent extremists’ destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and notes that ISIL (Daesh), the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and “other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida are generating income from engaging directly or indirectly in the lootings and smuggling of cultural heritage items from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites in Iraq and Syria, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and carry out terrorist attacks.”
The Decision calls on Member States to contribute funding for the preservation of Palmyra and other sites in Syria and invites the Director-General to send international experts to “inventory the extent of damages and to identify urgent needs in terms of conservation, restoration, and safeguarding with a view toward the long-term sustainability and integrity” of those sites.
In addition, the Executive Board took decisions on the UNESCO Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (2016-2021), as well as on UNESCO’s role in encouraging girls and women to be leaders in science, technology, engineering, art/design and mathematics.
Member States also agreed on a new Comprehensive strategy for the MOST programme, and deliberated on enhancing the Organization’s contribution to a culture of respect and issues pertaining to the review of the Memory of the World Programme for the preservation of documentary heritage.
The 199th session of the Executive Board was also marked by the visit of the Secretary-General of The Commonwealth, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, who spoke of her organization’s priority areas, including climate change and creating opportunities for young people.