The Global Literacy Challenge at the UN

A high-level UNESCO advocacy event, co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations, was organized on Tuesday, 7 October 2008, in the UN Building in New York, alongside the 63rd Session of the General Assembly.

The lunch-time event, which was held to coincide with the presentation of the Mid-Decade Review of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) to the UN General Assembly, focused on the theme ‘The Interface between Literacy and Development’. The aim of the meeting was to draw greater attention to the critical role that literacy plays in the global development agenda, linking literacy not only with sustainable development and the MDGs but also with issues such as peace, globalization and knowledge societies.

Organized as a Round Table during a lunch discussion, and moderated by Mr. Mark Richmond, Director of the Division for the Coordination of UN priorities in Education at UNESCO, the event was addressed by Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States of America and Honorary Ambassador for the UNLD.

Three panelists presented their views and insights on the Literacy/Development Interface: Mr. Ahlin Byll-Cataria, the Executive Secretary of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA); Mrs. Enkhtsetseg Ochir, the Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN; and Mr. Patrick Gaston, the President of the Verizon Foundation. A lively and engaged Q&A session followed the presentations.

About 100 people representing UN Member States, multilateral agencies, public and private donors, and civil society attended the event, which provided an opportunity to establish new partnerships and reinforce existing collaboration.

During this event, a new UNESCO publication entitled ‘The Global Literacy Challenge’ was launched. This publication presents youth and adult literacy at the half-way point of the UN Literacy Decade.

The event provided high visibility for the UNLD at its mid-point and presented youth and adult literacy as a key condition of sustainable development and as vital to achieving all of the EFA goals and the MDGs.

For more information, contact
Margarete Sachs-Israel:, Head, UNLD Coordination Unit.

Related links

Agenda of the Luncheon

Remarks of Mrs Laura Bush, Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade

Remarks by H.E. Ms. Enkhtsetseg Ochir, Representative of Mongolia to the UN

Remarks by Mr. Ahlin Byll-Cataria, Executive Secretary of ADEA

Remarks by Patrick Gaston, President of the Verizon Foundation

The Global Literacy Challenge Report

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