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Welcome to the Strategic Transformation Portal

Four questions about the Strategic Transformation of the Organization to Mr Xing Qu, Deputy Directeur-General

Together, we can deliver a strong, modern and ambitious response to the challenges facing UNESCO.


Following the calls for applications inviting colleagues to be part of the Transformation Support Unit and Thematic Working Groups, we are delighted to share with you the list of selected members. To mark this occasion, our Deputy Director-General agreed to answer the following key questions.


What is the objective of the Strategic Transformation?

Our Organization needs to take on board the challenges of a constantly changing world. Our mandate is particularly relevant today, but the context in which we are operating is very different from what it was like in 1945, and we need to genuinely transform UNESCO into a 21st century institution, firmly aligned with its environment today and adapted for the transformations we face.

That is why our Director-General wanted to launch a Strategic Transformation of our programmes and methods, with the following core goals:

Repositioning the programmes at the heart of our Organization: they are the reason why we exist and we need to adapt them to the challenges seen today;

Further strengthening our role as a laboratory of ideas: UNESCO must once again become the place where tomorrow’s world is reflected on and conceived;

Opening up UNESCO: we need to ensure that the Organization’s voice is heard around the world and develop partnerships with stakeholders from civil society, foundations and businesses;

Further strengthening the overall efficiency of our operations and modernizing the way we operate internally.

This transformation is in line with the United Nations reform and the 2030 Agenda. We need to position our Organization on the international stage, within the United Nations Country Teams, and align our actions with the Member States’ priorities and regional entities.

This Strategic Transformation process has been approved by the Executive Board and we are now going to roll it out.


How specifically will the transformation be organized?

We will be organizing the work around three sections:

Changing our structures to further strengthen our management culture

Improving the efficiency of our means of action

Reviewing UNESCO’s strategic positioning looking ahead to 2030

The Strategic Transformation will be overseen by a Steering Committee, which I chair. A Transformation Support Unit has just been set up and will be responsible for monitoring the process on a day-to-day basis. We have also set up several Thematic Working Groups to consult and lead the changes in several specific areas.

These various groups have been created following applications received from dozens of internal candidates, which highlights the strong level of engagement among our staff, and I am delighted to see this.

Four Thematic Working Groups have been set up:

  • Operational Efficiency
  • Communication
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Presence in the World

As part of this process, we will be focusing in particular on listening to the Member States, which will be kept informed and consulted concerning progress made with the Strategic Transformation and the Thematic Working Groups’ work.

What are your expectations for our staff? How do you intend to engage them?

Our Organization has already seen a number of reforms, but the results of our assessments and audits show that we have not yet found the right solutions.

I firmly believe that our responses will be built around all our Organization’s staff, and their engagement is our main asset. The Transformation’s success is dependent on each and every one of our staff. That is why I am inviting my colleagues from our Headquarters and Field Offices to get on board for this process, which will be decisive for the future of our Organization.

Each and every one of us has an opportunity to contribute towards the transformation. I am counting on the support and contributions of all our staff to interact with the Thematic Working Groups and Transformation Support Unit, propose innovative ideas, present best practices and share our experiences.

How can everyone be part of the Strategic Transformation?

We can all contribute in a number of ways, and we need your ideas and your experience to succeed.

For instance, you can:

Champion the transformation and share important information on this process within your unit, division or sector;

Take part in pilot exercises to test the recommendations: pilots will be organized at our Headquarters and in our Field Offices to test the recommendations;

Share your suggestions and feedback with the suggestion boxes: you can submit your opinion at or use the online forum on UNESCOMMUNITY. If you would like to make any suggestions anonymously, we will be setting up physical suggestion boxes for you at our Headquarters;

Contribute occasionally to the work carried out by the Thematic Working Groups: the groups will organize consultation sessions throughout the process to get your ideas and feedback on specific topics;

Take part in the surveys that will be sent out to you in order to help the dedicated teams align themselves with all the expectations of our staff.

I am fully committed to this process and I will regularly report on the progress made with our work. I firmly believe that we can deliver a strong, modern and ambitious response to the challenges facing UNESCO. We are going to demonstrate this together.