(NATCOM) – Basseterre, 22nd June, 2016: Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. Antonio Maynard says he has returned from the Third Interregional Meeting of National Commissions for UNESCO held in Shanghai, China, June 13-15, inspired to continue the work which will advance the collaboration between the Federation and UNESCO.
Said the Secretary General, critical objectives to take relevant programmes forward and implement new initiatives were discussed at the meeting which brought together key representatives of National Commissions for UNESCO to gain enlightenment on the role of NatComs and changing priorities in the face of Global challenges.
Against the backdrop of increased fiscal prudence and the realities of the impact of globalization and natural disasters among others, Maynard said participants received sobering advice on new levels of accountability, and transparency as well as the need for strong programme objectives which reflect current needs.
Mr. Eric Falt, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for External Relations and Public Information, assured participants however that UNESCO intends to further enhance its collaboration with NatComs and to inspire collaboration among them.
Objectives and agenda items were selected by way of online survey and included: The Role of NatComs in the implementation of Agenda 2030; Youth and prevention of violent extremism; as well as Protection of heritage in the event of armed conflict or natural disasters.
NatComs met in their respective regional groups, namely Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, to discuss and come up with recommendations relating to the topics.
In relation to the 17 interrelated sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that comprise Agenda 2030, Latin America and the Caribbean agreed that the role of the NatComs in implementation would be influenced in part by their status, size, structure and country priorities. Better communication, collaboration and coordination, capacity building of NatComs, and institutional strengthening of Cluster Offices were identified as priorities.
The following initiatives were identified as priorities: building awareness of Agenda 2030, developing and strengthening partnerships with other UN agencies, involving indigenous peoples in implementing the agenda, collaborating with relevant regional bodies, institutionalizing measures to bridge the language divide between the different NatComs, sharing information between NatComs, and engaging the Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations.
As concerns youth and the prevention of violence, a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach was called for. This included a vital role by Education systems and educators, Global Citizenship Education should be introduced in the curriculum, as well as teacher training/training of trainers in conflict resolution, mentorship programs, initiatives for juvenile justice reform, as well as interregional youth conferences.
NatComs agreed on the need for mainstreaming culture in the work of the NatComs, building capacity in NatComs on establishing policies and legislation, encouraging states to work on sites to be included in the World Heritage List, as well as pursuing Public Private Partnerships as a means of protection of common heritage,
NatComs from Latin America and the Caribbean recommended that SIDS be added as a third global priority apart from Africa and Gender. The regional priorities for Education include Quality Education, Literacy, Prevention of Violence, Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education. Priorities in the Natural Sciences include the impact of climate change on SIDS, as well as the Man and the Biosphere program. Priorities were also identified in the Social and Human Sciences as well as in Communication and Information as well as in culture which addressed the ratification of conventions and addition of sites to the World Heritage List.
Mr Du Yue, Secretary-General of the Chinese recommended that NatComs follow an “ACCORD approach” with A standing for active, C for commitment, C for communication, O for operational, R for responsiveness and D for devotion.
The Third Interregional Meeting of National Commissions for UNESCO was jointly organized by UNESCO, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the City of Shanghai; it was attended by more than 150 delegates from 116 National Commissions for UNESCO (NatComs) from all five regions of the world. The first interregional meeting was held in Astana in 2014 and the second in Paris in 2015.
Photo: Group of Secretaries General of National Commissions for UNESCO Worldwide.