About UNESCO Office for the Pacific States

Introduction to the Office

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a Specialized Agency of the United Nations (UN) was founded on 16 November 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. At present, with its headquarters in Paris, France, the Organization has 193 Member States and 11 Associate members. UNESCO has 53 offices across the world and 199 National Commissions for UNESCO Constituted by its Member States to facilitate the Organization’s global mandate.

While UNESCO’s work in the Pacific commenced since the Organization was founded, active programmatic work in the Pacific Small Island States began in late 1960s. The office in Apia was set up on 16 Nov 1983 to provide dedicated support to the Pacific nations.

UNESCO's early work in the field of education in the Pacific included promotion of basic education, education system strengthening, and advocacy right to free and compulsory primary education, and professional networking and development of educationists and education system administrators.

UNESCO's early activities in culture included advocacy to recognize cultures and cultural rights of the people of the Pacific, support for application of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).

The Office has supported spread of Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in higher education since the Office began working as well as advocated for the development of national institutions for scientific research. Over a period, it brought focus on biodiversity, hydrology, and disaster risk reduction including tsunami early warning.

The Office extended support for the promotion of the anti-doping culture among sport communities and institutions and for sport for development and peace. Inclusive development and humanitarian assistance with strong focus on youth leadership, gender equality and needs of the persons with disabilities have featured strongly in the Office’s work in the Pacific.

The Office has furthered the ideals of "free flow of ideas by word and image" in the Pacific by supporting journalism and media studies and training, media development, promotion of archives and libraries, and Information for All.

UNESCO Pacific Strategy 2018 - 2022

The UNESCO Pacific Strategy 2018-2022 guides the direction, distribution of resources and sets standards and performance indicators for UNESCO’s work in the Pacific in the coming years. It is a call for urgent action, not only for more funding but also cooperation and recognition that the peoples of the Pacific can achieve more together than separately.

In consultation with development partners and the UNESCO National Commissions, the UNESCO Cluster Office to the Pacific States has designed this Strategy to address some of the key challenges to sustainable development in 15 Pacific countries and territories which includes the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Key elements of the Strategy

  • The Strategy is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and also builds on existing guiding frameworks in the Pacific, including UNESCO’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Action Plan 2016–2021.
  • A multisectoral and multi-agency approach is adopted to reduce pressure on small national administrations and to ensure cost-effectiveness in delivery. It will maximize cooperation with other United Nation agencies, with Pacific regional agencies to ensure the interventions are grounded in regional priorities; and with development partners. Thus, the Strategy is fully aligned with country development priorities, as well as the United Nations Pacific Strategy (UNPS) 2018–2022 and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2018–2022 for Papua New Guinea.
  • Three strategic goals frame the UNESCO Pacific Strategy.
    • Strategic Goal 1: Investing in People

UNESCO in the Pacific will strengthen polices for education and lifelong learning; the professional development of teachers; a stronger role for technical and vocational training; strengthen intercultural competencies; improve science, technology and innovation policy while promoting the advantages of using intangible cultural heritage and traditional knowledge; enhance social inclusion with a specific focus on youth and women’s empowerment; and support the fostering of an independent media in the Pacific.

    • Strategic Goal 2: Protecting our Islands and Oceans

UNESCO will target its support primarily to build national and community capacity for implementation of the UNESCO Declaration on Ethics of Climate Change; strengthen heritage management capacity to mitigate and respond to climate change and disasters in UNESCO designated sites while also promoting UNESCO cultural conventions as tools for this work; support indigenous knowledge-based research; improve water security; support the work of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to reduce the risks from tsunamis, storm surges and other coastal hazards; and promote science education in the region.

    • Strategic Goal 3: Sustaining Livelihoods

Activities under this strategic goal will foster policies and practices for the protection and safeguarding of cultural and natural heritage. The integration of modern technologies and tools will strengthen the preservation of heritage, the transmission of traditional knowledge and the promotion of the development of the creative industries. The UNESCO Pacific office will also provide assistance in the identification of potential heritage sites for inclusion on the World Heritage tentative list.

Outline of the Strategy

  • Part I presents an overview of UNESCO’s global vision and mandate; and the evolution of UNESCO’s guiding framework and development work in the Pacific.
  • A situational analysis of the current development context, key challenges and risks for the Pacific region (Part I) and for each country (Part V) is described.
  • Part II outlines UNESCO’s three strategic goals in the Pacific and identifies key partners and activities, in alignment with national and regional development priorities.
  • UNESCO’s strong focus on data collection and analysis; monitoring and evaluation; and reporting is highlighted in Part III, emphasizing the need for accountability.
  • The Cooperation and Partnerships Matrix (Part IV) presents the detail for each strategic goal’s activity and identifies potential partners and indicative funds needed. Drilling down further, the Results and Resources Framework outlines clear performance indicators, baseline and targets, data sources, and country coverage for each activity output.
  • Finally, Part V brings the focus back to each country and subregional context, by aligning the Strategy outputs and resources with each country’s development priorities, the UNDAF priorities (where relevant) and the UNPS outcomes and priorities.

With clear strategic and measurable goals, strong partnerships and a focus on UNESCO’s priority areas of education, culture, natural sciences and communication, this Strategy will promote opportunities and mobilize resources for sustainable development, democracy and peace in the region.

Introduction to the Director

Nisha brings around 30 years of experiences to her current role as the Director of Office and UNESCO Representative to the Pacific States. Of her experiences, around 24 years have been focused on multi-sector development and humanitarian emergency response, including child and women’s rights, gender equality, education and training, labor and human rights, peace building, disaster risk reduction, emergency response and recovery, governance reform, and development initiatives focused on local and national capacity building.

Prior to working with the UNESCO, Nisha worked internationally with Oxfam GB, Christian Aid, UNDP, UNIFEM and the ILO in several countries in East and Horn of Africa, South Asia, and Arab States, and with civil society organizations in India.

In the current role, Nisha performs the function of UNESCO Representative to the Pacific States. She leads and coordinates UNESCO’s programmatic work covering education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture and intangible heritage, and information and communication in the sub-region.

Our Team

Ms. Aya AOKI

Programme Specialist for Education