High impact of UNESCO’s work in the UK

In late 2015, the UK National Commission published a new report on the Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK that highlights the resounding value of UNESCO for the UK today.

UNESCO is acting on the world’s frontlines, to strengthen the foundations for sustainable development and lasting peace – this report shows the impact of UNESCO’s work in the UK, for the benefit of the British people and Government, today and tomorrow.

The report covers two angles – the contribution of UNESCO to government policy, followed by the importance of UNESCO to the work of UK organizations. The analysis ranges across the board, from the Cabinet Office to HM Treasury, from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Department for International Development. It takes in the combined impact of all UNESCO designations in the UK --  including 29 World Heritage Sites, 5 Biosphere Reserves, 6 Creatives Cities, 7 Global Geoparks, 16 UNESCO University Chairs as well as 35 UK-based scientists honored as part of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science programme.

For the mapping of UNESCO in the UK, see here: http://www.unesco.org.uk/unesco-in-the-uk/

The conclusions of the Report highlight three levels of value:

  • Financial value – “UNESCO helped UK affiliated institutions and bodies to attract at least £100 million in additional income in one year”;
  • Wider, non-financial value – “by leveraging the UNESCO brand and collaborating with the global network, the UK’s UNESCO projects can access new programme, partnership and funding opportunities and influence key decision makers.”
  • Support for UK government policy –UNESCO activity is seen to “complement a broad portfolio of UK-government and devolved administration policies.”

 

The Report contains expression of support from a wide range of actors in the UK.

One interlocutor, related to the City of Bath World Heritage Site, said: “[UNESCO] puts the heritage that we have here on the world stage and compares us with some of the great monuments around the world…that profile is really important. It engages us with a wider family overseas.”

One UNESCO Chair in the UK put the impact this way: “I have always been the sort of academic who believes that we have wider social responsibilities, but the [UNESCO University] Chair has put it full square and center in what my job is. It is about trying to make a difference and that is what UNESCO encourages me to do.”

In the words of a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow: “Funders want evidence that you’ve been able to obtain competitive funding and the Fellowship is really competitive.”

A UK-based scientist involved with UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission said the following:  “All of our global partners[hips] have come [through engagement with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission]. Without the [IOC] association we would not have had the platform to reach out more internationally.”

The Report shows also that there remains vast untapped potential for greater impact in the UK. This can be developed through deeper networking,  especially at the global level, and through sharper recognition of the power of the UNESCO brand.

UNESCO is based today in Paris, but it was created in London in 1945. This Report shows the enduring importance of the values underpinning the Organization– “the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men” – and which bear the deep imprint of the society and history of Great Britain. Seventy one years after it was created, UNESCO is continuing to work closely with the people and Government of Britain to take these values forward.