“The world needs more UNESCO, and UNESCO needs support from all Member States” says Irina Bokova at the General Policy Debate of the UNESCO General Conference
On 5 November, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, spoke during the General Policy Debate at the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference.
In her report to UNESCO Member States, the Director-General reviewed the most recent achievements of the Organization and highlighted her vision of the way forward.
“On 1 January 2012, the Organization faced a deficit to be absorbed of $ 220 million, from the budget of $ 653 million approved by the General Conference,” stated the Director-General. “Today, almost two years later, we close the biennium with balanced books. We close with a UNESCO that is more performing, more focused, that is set to move forward.”
Irina Bokova highlighted the Organization’s ability to deliver on its core mandate despite severe financial difficulty: leadership in putting education first on the global political agenda, stronger engagement of UNESCO in post-conflict post-crisis and emergency situations, in Mali, in Syria, in Côte d’Ivoire, in support of transition countries, progress made in political advocacy to put culture and creative industries on the global development agenda, and to protect freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, along with support to harnessing the power of the sciences for sustainable development.
Director-General thanked Member States for their engagement and support to the Organization.
“We knew that this period would impose a difficult test on the Organization,” stated Irina Bokova “And my first message is that we have passed this test. We have managed the crisis by taking strong measures, with a clear vision of reform and with a roadmap elaborated by the Executive Board.”
Looking ahead, she highlighted the main elements of her proposal for a new Medium-Term Strategy to guide the Organization for the next 8 years, to be adopted by the Members States.
“The draft Medium-Term Strategy is built on a firm conviction,” declared Irina Bokova. “There can be no reduction of UNESCO’s ambitions -- there must be no dilution of our mandate. We need more UNESCO now, not less.”
The Director-General underlined UNESCO’s vital support to States in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All objectives by 2015, as well as in shaping a new, ambitious global sustainable development to follow – where the power of education, the sciences, culture, communication and information must be recognized and integrated.
“The world has changed dramatically since 1945 -- but the message of our Constitution has never been so true,” said Ms Bokova. “Lasting peace, lasting development can only be built in the minds of women and men. These are drivers for the creativity, the innovation every society needs today. They are the basis for greater equity and solidarity.”
The Director-General concluded her Report by appealing to all Member States for consensus in moving forward, for their full engagement and support to UNESCO, as a foundation of a more effective, rules-based multilateral order.