On 29 April 2020, the National Commissions for UNESCO joined the first Online Meeting on COVID-19. The main objective of this meeting was to discuss with the National Commissions key initiatives launched by UNESCO to respond to COVID-19 and key activities initiated by National Commissions at national level to respond to this crisis.
Some 107 National Commissions participated, along with 22 representatives of Permanent Delegations, including also 30 Directors of the Field Offices. In total, more than 270 persons joined this meeting, while some 230 participants followed it through UNESCO Webcast.
In his welcome remarks, Mr Firmin Edouard Matoko, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Priority Africa and External Relations, recalled that the National Commissions remain at the heart of the actions that UNESCO continues is taking to support Member States in fighting the pandemic. He expressed Organization’s deep gratitude to the National Commissions for their hard work and numerous actions undertaken in the fields of UNESCO’s competences. Mr Matoko recalled that this meeting is the first in a series of other regional and sub-regional meetings with the National Commissions that UNESCO is planning to organize.
Mr Matoko’s presentation was followed by a brief introduction of key initiatives by colleagues from the Education, Culture, Social and Human Sciences, National Science, Communication and Information Sectors as well as by the colleagues in charge of the Priority Africa and Gender Equality. Prior to this online meeting, the contributions from more than 40 National Commissions on their COVID-19 related initiatives were shared with UNESCO’s Secretariat. Some of these contributions have been published on the Online Platform of the National Commissions as well as on UNESCO.int website.
During the discussion session, National Commissions presented a rich array of initiatives taken in all fields of UNESCO competence. These actions are coming to support UNESCO initiatives, to share information and raise awareness and also to support actions in Member States. These actions reflect the unique role of National Commissions in taking forward UNESCO’s priorities and objectives in ways that meaningful to societies across the world.
In addition, the National Commissions raised a wide range of questions, focusing on:
- Education – including TVET in Africa, funding streams and other details on Global Education Coalition, Remote leaners;
- Culture – including the “Culture & COVID-19: Impact and Response Tracker”, and the date of the upcoming World Heritage Committee meeting;
- Social and Human Sciences – including on the world after COVID-19;
- Natural Sciences – including on the links between Sciences, Epidemiology and Ecosystems;
- Communication and Information – including on Media and Information literacy, as well as disinformation;
- Intersectoral issues – including on the model of RésiliArt;
- Other issues: including on the C/4/C5 consultations and link to the Strategic Transformation, as well as the Participation Programme deadlines and fellowships.
Mr Nicolas Mathieu, Secretary-General of the Swiss National Commission for UNESCO took the floor to update the National Commissions on the 7th Interregional Meeting, initially scheduled to take place in Lugano from 25 to 28 May 2020, postponed because of the pandemic. The National Commissions for UNESCO will be informed of possible new dates as soon as these are determined.
In closing, Mr Firmin Edouard Matoko renewed his gratitude to the National Commissions for their support to UNESCO’s initiatives at national level and their rich array of actions taken to advance UNESCO values and objectives, drawing on all UNESCO networks, ASP schools, learning and creatives cities, as well designated sites, all aiming to fight against COVID-19.