Update on UNESCO’s reform

Major reform is underway at UNESCO to adapt the Organization to today’s world. At the request of the General Conference, an Independent External Evaluation submitted a report in September 2010 that identified four priority areas for change:

  • Increasing UNESCO’s focus
  • Positioning UNESCO closer to the Field
  • Strengthening UNESCO’s participation in the United Nations system
  • Developing and strengthening UNESCO’s partnerships

“My reform has one aim: to make UNESCO more relevant, more visible and more effective,” said Irina Bokova in her inaugural address to the 192nd session of UNESCO’s Executive Board.

Over the past three years, almost 70 of the Evaluation’s 86 recommendations have been implemented.

The Draft Medium Term Strategy (2014-2021) proposes a clear repositioning of the Organization’s action in its priority areas: two overarching objectives instead of five, nine strategic objectives instead of 15. This document, which will be submitted to the 2013 General Conference, focuses UNESCO’s action on a limited number of objectives and more clearly defined expected results.

The first phase of reform for the Field Offices will be completed on time by the end of 2013, with the opening of five regional, multi-sectoral offices in Africa. This restructuration has been accompanied by transfers of personnel from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to these offices.

UNESCO has also strengthened its participation in the United Nations system, and taken the lead on several system-wide initiatives, including the Global Education First Initiative, launched by the Secretary General on 26 September 2012. UNESCO hosts the Scientific Advisory Board established in October 2013 by the Secretary General to reinforce the links between science and policy. UNESCO initiated the UN Plan for the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, which is now being implemented by the whole UN family.

Another important aim of the reform is to work more closely with civil society and other public and private partners. A global strategy for partnerships has been established; the relationship with the National Commissions has been revitalized and new methods of working with NGOs implemented.

The Malala Fund is one example of these new partnerships. It was launched by UNESCO and the Government of Pakistan on 10 December 2012 with a contribution from Pakistan of $10m. Since April 2011, a partnership with Proctor and Gamble for girls’ education has provided literacy training for 5000 girls and young women in Senegal; by its completion, another 35,000 will have been reached. In September 2013 UNESCO and TVGlobo signed a cooperation agreement to work together to build up the skills of young people in Brazil.


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