Social and Human Sciences


In today’s increasingly diverse societies, UNESCO continues to accomplish every day its fundamental humanist mission to support people in understanding each other and working together to build lasting peace. UNESCO also helps to enable people to create and use knowledge for just and inclusive societies.

Yet, lasting peace rests on a complex and fragile web of daily practices embedded in local settings and the most ephemeral encounters that individuals and communities creatively maintain out of the conviction that they constitute the sustainable conditions for living together in dignity and shared prosperity.

At a time of increasing global challenges and threats, such as inequality, exclusion, violence and sectarianism worsened by local tensions and conflicts which undermine humanity’s cohesion, learning to live together among all members of the global community becomes more topical than ever before.

Individuals become inter-culturally competent through learning and life experience for successful living in the modern complexity of our heterogeneous world and consequently they become prepared to appreciate diversity as well as to manage conflicts in accordance with the values of pluralism and mutual understanding.

On a daily basis, from its headquarters and in the field, UNESCO intervenes to accompany its Member States and all its partners to better understand and address the challenges of our more and more diversified societies, particularly through its intergovernmental programme for Management of Social Transformations (MOST), the Intercultural Dialogue and Culture of Peace programme, Youth Civic Engagement, Ethics for Sciences, and International Coalition for Sustainable and Inclusive Cities. 

Furthermore, UNESCO seeks to promote the development and the practice of sporting activities, as well as the fight against doping to foster social integration in different cultural and political contexts, recognizing that sport disregards both geographical borders and social classes.


Social and Human Sciences in Southern Africa

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa established a Social and Human Sciences (SHS) unit in July 2016 to promote social policies that uphold peace, human rights, and democracy within the Southern Africa Region. The SHS Unit prioritises programmes that target youth engagement, the development of inclusive and sustainable cities, overseeing of ethics for science, and the Management of Social Transformation (MOST). 

The Unit also fosters inter-sectoral collaboration especially within the Natural Science Unit to encourage interdisciplinary approaches and sustainability science; the Education Unit to strengthen the Global Citizenship Education; and the Culture and Communication an Information Units to promote history as a tool for regional integration and inclusion. Gender equality is central to the SHS Unit’s work. 

Since ROSA’s SHS Unit was established, youth from numerous member states have been given platforms to engage in intercultural dialogue and participate in decision making; technical assistance on developing inclusive and sustainable cities has been provided; a new strategy for fighting anti-doping in Mozambique was developed; a MOST school on Sustainability Science is underway; and steps to advance quality physical education initiatives have been taken. 

The Unit has also produced new knowledge and field research about youth’s perspectives on the relevance of secondary education; and intercultural approach as a tool for youth inclusion in Southern Africa. 

Our Goals:

To elaborate solutions for inclusion of all, at the national and local levels, based on informed and inclusive policies;To promote youth engagement as partners for development and culture of peace; andTo strengthen Member States response to social transformations, ethical matters and regional integration. 

Expected Results:

The expected results of SHS ROSA are:

  • Vulnerable groups empowered through inclusion and participation in decision making process;
  • Young men and women's participation in social, cultural and political life improved; and
  • Members States' capacities enhanced so that they are able to respond to ethical matters and social transformation through new improved social science knowledge, coordination and exchange of good practices. 

Our work:

SHS ROSA works along the following 6 thematic areas:

  • Localising SDG 11 and support to inclusive cities;
  • Gender equality and masculinity;
  • Inclusion and rights;
  • Management of social transformations (MOST);
  • Intercultural dialogue and Culture of Peace;
  • Youth engagement as partners for development and peace;
  • Sport and Anti–Doping; and
  • Bioethics.
Back to top