More than 110 National Commissions for UNESCO from all regions of the world have come together in Astana, Kazakhstan, to look at ways of strengthening their efforts to promote the Organization’s work and optimize their contribution to UNESCO’s programme. The meeting, which is the first of its kind, began on 22 July and will run through to 24 July.
Jointly organized by UNESCO and the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO, the meeting was opened by Adilbek Zhaksybekov, State Secretary of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Speaking on behalf of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, he called on National Commissions to reinforce their efforts to promote UNESCO’s ideals and values.
In a video address to the meeting, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stressed that “National Commissions are essential members of the ‘UNESCO family’, connecting the Organization to the concerns and visions of societies, sharpening UNESCO’s action to strengthen the foundations of lasting peace and sustainable development.”
Also present at the opening were Arystanbek Mukhamediuly, Minister of Culture and Chairperson of the National Commission of Kazakhstan for UNESCO, Nurlan Kaparov, Minister of Environment, Imangali Tasmagambetov, Mayor of Astana and Alexey Volkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Acting on behalf of the Director-General, Eric Falt, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information, presented the Mayor of Astana with the UNESCO Silk Roads commemorative medal and certificate, along the Certificate of the World Heritage Property “Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor”, which also includes China and Kyrgyzstan. The property was inscribed on the World Heritage List in June this year.
To the Minister of Environment, Mr Falt presented the Certificates of inscription for two new biosphere reserves - “Ak-Zhayik” and “Katon-Karagay” – on UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The three-day meeting aims to build capacities, enhance networking and promote best practices of National Commissions. Discussions are focused on strengthening cooperation between UNESCO field offices and National Commissions; raising UNESCO’s visibility at country level; improving understanding of UNESCO’s wider value for Member States; and ways that UNESCO can support the activities of National Commissions.
UNESCO National Commissions are established by the Governments of UNESCO’s Member States and serve as agencies of consultation, liaison and information about the Organization. They also mobilize and coordinate partnerships with national partners, including civil society and contribute to the advancement of UNESCO’s objectives and in the implementation of its programme.