The University Twinning and Networking (UNITWIN)/UNESCO Chairs Programme held an event on 31 October 2017 to look back at over 25 years of action and project the contribution of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The celebration took place during the 39th session of the General Conference and brought together over 200 UNESCO Chairholders, Network Coordinators and other key UNITWIN actors from 48 countries from all regions.
On behalf of the Director General of UNESCO, Mr Qian Tang, the Assistant Director-General for Education, in the opening remarks expressed: “I have always seen the UNESCO UNITWIN and Chairs Programme as one of the Organization’s great flagships, leading the way for the last 25 years in building new networks for innovation in teaching and research in core areas of our action.”
“Daily, in conjunction with the UNESCO Chairs, we are working to implement one of the key tasks of modern education - namely, facilitating motivation of the younger generations to cognition, creativity, labour and sport, the transformation of education into an effective social tool that provides competitiveness of individuals, society and state, both regionally and globally,” said Ms Olga Vasilieva, Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.
Launched in 1992, the University Twinning and Networking (UNITWIN)/UNESCO Chairs Programme has helped establish a network of over 700 higher education institutions in 116 countries. It promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. Through the programme, higher education and research institutions worldwide pool their resources to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies.
The UNITWIN Programme is “a clear example of the commitment to the advancement of science, culture and education in the international context”, mentioned Professor Josep Vilalta, Coordinator of Global University Network for Innovation (UPC, Barcelona, Spain).
The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme is an intersectoral platform that covers all areas of the organization: Education, Culture, Social and Human Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Communication and Information. It represents the combined power of brilliant minds from around the world to create sustainable solutions for today’s challenges and to think ahead of the future. The programme plays a key role by offering ideas, innovation, knowledge, information and support for achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
All UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks, as diverse as they are, have a unique bond but also an obligation to contribute under the umbrella of the SDGs and Agenda 2030, noted Professor Charles Hopkins (UNESCO Chair on reorienting teacher education towards sustainability, York University, Canada). He noted further that Chairs and Networks should support further the role of UNESCO as an honest broker for peace and sustainable development.