UNESCO and the European Union

Partnering towards Common Goals


UNESCO and the European Union (EU) are close and natural partners, sharing values and objectives, and joining efforts to support countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This unique partnership takes the shape of a wide range of projects undertaken across the world, covering areas of mutual interest and all of UNESCO's fields of competence: Culture, education, freedom of expression and equal access to information, environment, water and oceans, as well as a bolstered scope of policy dialogue. Together, UNESCO and the European Union ensure that no one is left behind!

The EU is currently the first largest funding partner to the Organization. In 2020, 15 new agreements have been signed between UNESCO and the EU extending existing projects like Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities (phase II) and creating new ones such as Addressing the ‘Disinfodemic’ on COVID-19 in conflict-prone environments and Strengthening Teaching in the Sahel Region. 



Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities

The European Union has committed 20 million Euros to promote social cohesion and reconciliation in Iraq through the restoration and reconstruction of historic urban landscapes within the framework of the Revive the Spirit of Mosul flagship initiative launched UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay in February 2018.

The three-year project agreement signed by the Director-General of the EU Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Stefano Manservisi and UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone, in Brussels on 21st February will also be used to fund the rehabilitation of the Iraqi city of Basra.


UNESCO’s approach to culture is rooted in its unique mandate as the only UN organization to safeguard and promote culture. This allows it to serve as a global “laboratory of ideas”, through which countries and communities can come together to find culture-based solutions to global challenges. Together, UNESCO and the European Union form a strong alliance that safeguards cultural heritage, promotes intercultural dialogue and achieves gender equality, peace and reconciliation through culture.

UNESCO-EU partnership projects in Culture

Quality Education

UNESCO is committed to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. In 2015, UNESCO was entrusted to lead and coordinate Education 2030 through guidance and technical support within the overall Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Together with the European Union, UNESCO implements projects across the world that promote equal access to quality education regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or background.

UNESCO-EU partnership projects in Education

Freedom of Expression and Pluralistic Media

UNESCO and the EU have become strategic partners promoting common values through the implementation of projects worldwide in line with UNESCO's mandate to foster "the free flow of ideas by words and image" and thereby contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

UNESCO-EU partnership projects in Freedom of Expression & Pluralistic Media


UNESCO works to advance and promote science in the interests of peace, sustainable development and human security and well-being, in close collaboration with its Member States and a wide variety of partners. Together with the EU, UNESCO address environmental challenges to reach sustainable development objectives through joint projects. 

UNESCO-EU partnership projects in Science

The UNESCO-EU Partnership framework

Memorandum of Understanding

By joining forces at both Headquarters and field level, UNESCO and the EU can effectively support governments, local authorities, civil society and citizens and together continue to focus on the most critical drivers for sustainable development, poverty eradication and lasting peace. To this aim, a Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and the European Union was signed in 2012 to enhance the dialogue, foster exchange of best practices and to further strengthen the partnership.

Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement

The overarching framework governing contribution-specific agreements between the EU and UNESCO is the Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement (FAFA) signed between the United Nations and the European Union in 2003, to which UNESCO adhered to in February 2004. The FAFA was revised through an adaption to the European Union Financial Regulation 2018, which was designed in December 2018. The adapted FAFA applies since 1st January 2019.