The UNESCO Office in Harare was initially established in 1986 as a sub-regional office for education in Southern Africa, with a special emphasis on higher education. Since then, it has also played the role of cluster office, covering Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The office has since 2014 regained a regional role as the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, covering all of UNESCO’s programme sectors: Education, Sciences, Culture, and, Communication and Information, in nine countries, namely Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Consequently, its capacity has been enhanced to mobilize and co-ordinate UNESCO’s programme strategy and action at the regional level, in close co-operation with UNESCO headquarters, other field offices and National Commissions for UNESCO.
The office also serves as UNESCO’s focal point for cooperation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Mission and Vision
Guided by the principles of cultural diversity and human dignity and in collaboration with its partners, governments, and institutions, the regional office seeks to advocate for and build countries’ capacity for:
- the provision of universal access to quality basic education and expanded access to pre-basic, post-basic and continuing education;
- the development and application of scientific and technological knowledge for social development;
- the promotion of cultural diversity and the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage;
- the expansion of access to information and communication technologies.
Through the regional office, UNESCO undertakes these actions in the region by focusing on poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS prevention and the mitigation of its impacts, especially among women and young people. The Office's work is guided its Regional Support Strategy (2017-2021).
Prof. Hubert Gijzen holds a PhD in Biotechnology, and has an established career of over 37 years in both academics and in international cooperation in various countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, in a range of senior functions as Full Professor and Chair in Universities, as a Diplomat, Team Leader, Regional Representative, and currently as UNESCO Regional Director and Representative.
Besides his current work for UNESCO, he continues to hold academic positions as full Professor at IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education (since 1995) and at Wageningen University.
Hubert has published over 400 articles and books in the fields of water management, microbiology, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and sanitary and environmental engineering. He also covered topics on international cooperation, sustainable development, the MDGs, SDGs and climate change. He served in various international advisory functions and on Boards of prestigious Institutes and programmes.
Hubert joined UNESCO in 2006 as the Director of the UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. In 2015, he was appointed as the Regional Director of the newly established UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe. In this capacity he also serves as the UNESCO Representative to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also is the UNESCO Representative to SADC, and he serves on the UN Regional Directors Team for Eastern and Southern Africa. Furthermore, he co-leads the UNESCO Working Group on Strategic Partnerships within the framework of the Organization’s Strategic Transformation.