The purpose of Risk Management at UNESCO
In our fast-paced and interconnected world, the international scene has grown all the more uncertain that large scale change, disruptive innovations and multiple global crises constantly defy the expertise and imagination of decision-makers at all levels, including in the field. As any other actor on the global scene, UNESCO is increasingly called to react dynamically to change but also to anticipate and produce significant change in its areas of competence. As an intergovernmental organization, we cannot ignore this pressure to excel, especially as stakeholders – Member States, civil society, and partners – are becoming ever more exigent in a context where public finances over the world are dramatically constrained by the impacts of and the responses to the global financial and economic crisis and where, importantly, reputation travels at the speed of light.
With a view to improving its responses to the expectations of Member States and the requirements of its operational environment, UNESCO has engaged in a deep reform to better manage for impacts through the Result-based Management approach. To complement this process, UNESCO needs to increase its capacity to address threats and opportunities, negative and positive uncertainties that pertain both to its functioning and its external environment. Such is the purpose of Risk Management.
Taking advantage of risks
Risk Management aims at efficiently and effectively mobilizing resources – in terms of budget, staff, assets or expertise – so as to improve the pursuit of the Organization’s goals – from the Constitution down to the level of work-plans. Risk Management is one of the key to success as it contributes to strengthening and maintaining the capacity for managers to:
- enhance the process of decision-making and manage change through a proactive anticipation of negative and positive uncertainties and the development of appropriate strategic plans;
- adapt resiliently to unforeseen events or disruptions so as to reduce the exposure of the organization, a challenge which cannot be met with mere risk avoidance;
- align strategies with the expectations of stakeholders (including partners, which is crucial in the context of the UN reform and the development of Public Private Partnerships);
- seize opportunities – bearing in mind that a risk can be both a threat and an opportunity depending on how it is managed.