UNESCO Chairs are established within Universities in the framework of the UNESCO UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking) Programme of UNESCO, launched in 1992. They aim at advancing research, training and program development in all of UNESCO’s fields of competence, while promoting north-south and south-south cooperation. The principal beneficiaries of this programme are institutions of higher learning in developing countries and countries in transition.
A number of UNESCO Chairs were created over the years on a variety of subjects related to culture, such as on safeguarding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, sustainable tourism, archaeology, risk management for urban heritage, museology, architectural conservation etc.
Chairs and Networks have evolved into poles of excellence and innovation at the regional or sub-regional levels. They also contribute to strengthening North-South-South cooperation. Today, the Programme involves over 650 institutions in 124 countries (currently 80 Chairs/UNITWIN Networks belong to Culture Sector).
One of the success stories of cooperation through this framework is the Forum UNESCO-University and Heritage (FUUH) , a UNESCO Chair created at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) in Spain. Today, it mobilizes a wide informal network of higher education institutions, to undertake activities for protecting and safeguarding the cultural and natural heritage.