On 29 June, at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, the Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, opened the first meeting of the UNESCO Task Force on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where she highlighted the important role of the Task Force in ensuring sharp, effective and coordinated support by the Organization to countries as they take forward, implement and review the 2030 Agenda.
“The 2030 Agenda is a global, universal and transformative agenda for human rights and dignity, for poverty eradication and social inclusion, for greater sustainability of all development and more lasting peace,” said Irina Bokova. ‘I am determined for UNESCO to pull all its weight, all its expertise and all its action to support every country and society in taking this forward -- I see this as an essential part of the reform of the Organization, to sharpen delivery, to accompany all societies in moving forward.”
“This means working in new ways – through deep intersectoriality, through new partnerships, through new regional approaches, through new benchmarking and indicators, to accompany States in ways that are differentiated, to support the goals they set for themselves, and to help monitor progress.”
9 of the 17 SDGs have direct relevance to UNESCO’s mandate – and UNESCO’s action is indirectly relevant to all of the remaining SDGs.
“Expectations are high,” said Irina Bokova. “Success will require action across the board, real synergies, adapting to needs, drawing on all strengths.”
Composed of Programme Assistant Directors-General, representatives from Central Services, as well as the heads of UNESCO’s liaison offices and the field offices in Egypt and Thailand, the first meeting of the Task Force focused on UNESCO’s contribution to the upcoming High-Level Political Forum, to be held at the UN in New York from 11-20 July. The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the United Nations central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Irina Bokova recalled that UNESCO has been actively supporting Member States in the follow up and review process of the 2030 Agenda by contributing to the various reports on the implementation of the SDGs which will feed HLPF debates, including the two main global reports on SDG implementation, i.e. the Global Sustainable Development Report and the SDG’s Progress Report on the SDGs.
UNESCO will also organize and participate in a number of high-level events to showcase the Organization’s key contributions to this process, in collaboration with key partners and stakeholders.
Irina Bokova highlighted the promising first results of the Steering Committee for the implementation of Goal 4 on quality education -- “this shows the leadership of UNESCO in bringing together partners, to instill a spirit of cooperation in-house and with all our partners. We are well advanced and structured for the implementation of Goal 4, and we must accelerate our work on other goals, on gender equality, on science, culture and sustainable societies.”
Irina Bokova also highlighted the UN-wide processes relevant to UNESCO’s work to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda -- including the ECOSOC discussions on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system, the new QCPR, and the new UNDAF guidelines that aim to support country and regional implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
In addition, the Task Force explored the preparation of the 39 C/5 to ensure its alignment with the 2030 Agenda, taking into consideration the results of the online consultation process, the recent consultation meeting in Shanghai with UNESCO National Commissions, and the discussions of Member States at the last Intersessional Meeting of the UNESCO Executive Board.
The Director-General noted that on 5 July, 2016, an interactive workshop will be held, led by Sweden, with the informal High-Level group of nine countries supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and that this will provide a new important opportunity to discuss how best to ensure that the 39 C/5 fully supports countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda in the coming years. “This shows how much this 2030 Agenda is owned and led by countries themselves, with the UN Secretariat in a position to support and to assist – this is very much a country-led Agenda, and UNESCO is in an ideal position to deliver on what it does best : strengthening capacity, providing policy advice and support to its Member States,” said the Director-General.
In addition, she welcomed the UNESCO publication that is being prepared to articulate in a comprehensive manner, the main axes of the Organization’s action, and how this will contribute to the reflection on the Programme and Budget for 2018-2021 (39 C/5) and to positioning UNESCO in the overall UN implementation of the 2030 Agenda.