On 16 March, 2015, UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, met with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Mr Kamalesh Sharma, at UNESCO Headquarters.
This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the long-standing and fruitful collaboration between UNESCO and the Commonwealth, as well as Commonwealth sister’s organizations -- notably on matters related to technical and vocational education, distance education and ICTs in education, including Open Educational Resources (OER).
In addition, UNESCO and the Commonwealth also share a range of concerns and priorities. Intercultural dialogue, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, resilience and vulnerability of society, climate change, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and youth empowerment are topics of common interest were mentioned as areas for further collaboration.
The Director-General emphasized that, at a time of increasing global challenges and threats, such as that of intercultural/interreligious conflicts, extremism, social injustice and intolerance, UNESCO has a crucial role in empowering people, especially young people, on how to live together.
“This is in our DNA,” she said. “These issues need to be placed as the top of the agenda as highest priorities by the international community, and they must shape the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.”
Mr Sharma highlighted the fact that UNESCO and the Commonwealth have a shared vision of serving the human community in its diversity:
"We need to see a globalization of wisdom emerge".
He emphasized the imperative of focusing on the wealth of cultural diversity as an asset and resource for humanity's renewal, as well as on efforts to strengthen mutual respect and understanding, while supporting at the same time youth empowerment as societies that have paid insufficient attention to young people.
Ms Bokova and Mr Sharma committed to expand cooperation between the two organizations.