About UNESCO Office in Harare


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)

Regional Director and Representative

Lidia Arthur Brito has vast experience working in the field of science policy, development plans and monitoring of science policies and instruments, the forestry sector, traditional energy (biomass and coal), management in higher, technical and vocational education and ICTs for development. She has also been a university professor, researcher, consultant and main manager at national, regional and international institutions, combining academic and practical aspects to promote sustainable development. 

Between 2009 and 2014, she was UNESCO’s Director of Science Policy and Capacity-Building at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. She has worked extensively in the advancement of STI for sustainable development. She was the first Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology of Mozambique (2000-2005) and Vice-Chancellor of the Eduardo Mondlane University (1998 to 2000). 
She has collaborated on numerous boards, such as the Governing Council of the UNESCO Institute for Water Education, the United Nations University Council, the Advisory Council for the Community Development Carbon Fund, the Board of Directors of the Gateway Development Foundation; the Board of the Stockholm Environment Institute; and the African Forum on Forestry, Biodiversity (CGIAR Centre), among others. 

Prior to her appointment as the Regional Director for Southern Africa, she was the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean and UNESCO Representative in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, based in Montevideo.


Prof. Lidia Arthur Brito
Regional Director and Representative