UNESCO adopts every six years a Medium-Term Strategy, which sets out the strategic objectives and expected outcomes for the Organization’s work.
UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2008-2013 (document 34 C/4 ) sets out the strategic vision and programmatic framework for UNESCO’s action in all its domains at the global, regional and country levels over the next six years.
The Medium-Term Strategy is built around one mission statement, guiding UNESCO’s action across all its areas of competence:
"As a specialized agency of the UN system, UNESCO contributes to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information."
In fulfilling its mission, UNESCO will carry out for the international community five established functions:
- laboratory of ideas, including foresight;
- clearing house;
- capacity-builder in Member States in UNESCO’s fields of competence;
- catalyst for international cooperation.
The strategy has defined Africa and gender equality as global priorities. Moreover, specific targeted action is envisaged for youth, the least developed countries (LDCs), and small island developing states (SIDS). UNESCO will further respond to the needs of the disadvantaged and excluded groups, as well as the most vulnerable segments of society, including indigenous populations.
The Medium-Term Strategy is structured around five programme-driven Overarching Objectives for the entire Organization, defining areas where UNESCO has a unique profile and comparative advantage in the multilateral field:
- Attaining quality Education for All;
- Mobilizing scientific knowledge and science policy for sustainable development;
- Addressing emerging ethical challenges;
- Promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
- Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication.
These overarching objectives are then translated into 14 Strategic Programme Objectives:
- Strengthening UNESCO’s global lead and coordination role for EFA and providing support to national leadership in favour of EFA;
- Developing policies, capacities and tools for quality education for all and lifelong learning as well as promoting education for sustainable development;
- Leveraging scientific knowledge for the benefit of the environment and the management of natural resources;
- Fostering policies and capacity-building in science, technology and innovation;
- Contributing to disaster preparedness and Mitigation;
- Promoting principles, practices, and ethical norms relevant for scientific and technological development;
- Enhancing research-policy linkages on social Transformations;
- Fostering research on critical emerging ethical and social issues;
- Strengthening the contribution of culture to sustainable development;
- Demonstrating the importance of exchange and dialogue among cultures to social cohesion and reconciliation in order to develop a culture of peace;
- Sustainably protecting and enhancing Cultural Heritage;
- Enhancing universal access to information and Knowledge;
- Fostering pluralistic, free and independent media and infostructures;
- Support through UNESCO’s domains to countries in post-conflict situations and post-disaster situations.
The roadmap defined by the Medium-Term Strategy, which must be implemented by three consecutive programme and budget documents (C/5), which began with the Programme and Budget for 2008-2009 (document 34 C/5), followed by the Programme and Budget for 2010-2011 (document 35C/5) and the Programme and Budget for 2012-2013 (document 36C/5 which will be adopted by the General Conference in November 2011).