Social and Human Sciences

Building peace through education, culture and science for 7 billion people on Earth is one of UNESCO’s major challenges. In this perspective, UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Programme contributes to ensuring that human beings are at the core of development policies.

Advocating for Social and Human Sciences role in the World

Launched on 25 June 2010 by the Director-General and the President of the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the World Social Science Report 2010 Knowledge Divides emphasizes the significance of social sciences’ multidisciplinary approach to grasping the complexity of contemporary challenges. It also points to the challenges which remain to bridge the knowledge divides. It shows that disparities in research capacities in the world remain, and the report sets a new global agenda to promote social sciences as an invaluable tool for the advancement of the Internationally Agreed Development Goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Youth and democracy

Following the Arab Spring, UNESCO stepped up its efforts to promote democracy and the management of social transformations. UNESCO organized a high-level round table on “Democracy and Renewal in the Arab World: UNESCO in Support of Transitions to Democracy” on 21 June 2011. A Roadmap was developed which identifies fundamental conditions for sustainable democracy in the region to serve as a framework for multifaceted actions.

In this context, the past 18 months have also seen youth take centre stage in these social transformations. The critical importance of addressing specific issues faced by youth became self-evident. UNESCO has contributed to inform policies and programmes, including on youth civic engagement. Building on the momentum of the International Year of Youth (August 2010-August 2011), progress has been made in raising awareness of youth development issues and the role of youth as agents for constructive change.

The latter was also the key focus of the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum that took place at UNESCO Headquarters from 17 to 20 October 2011. A series of online consultations with youth networks was initiated on the theme of the Forum: "How youth drive change". In line with UNESCO's work in the field of social transformations, the Forum was the occasion to showcase how youth can drive social change towards peace, democracy and economic opportunity.

Urban Development

With 7 Billion people on Earth and more than 50 % of them living in cities, cities are becoming magnets of hope for 215 million international migrants and more than 500 million of rural-urban migrants in Brazil, India, China and South Africa. This strengthening association between migration and urbanization is a key concern of the joint UNESCO / UN-HABITAT project “Migrants inclusion in cities: innovative urban policies and practices”.

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