UNESCO’s Executive Board endorses robust programme and continued reforms despite constraints in funding
UNESCO’s 58-member Executive Board today endorsed a new “Road Map” that empowers the Organization to carry out its programme for 2012-2013, despite severe funding constraints.
The strategy, presented to the Board by Director-General Irina Bokova, sharpens the focus of programmes, reduces costs and strengthens the mobilization of extra-budgetary resources. These reforms became imperative following the suspension of dues from the United States last October, which reduced funding for the 2012-2013 budget from US$ 653 million to US$ 465 million.
The “Road Map” focuses on UNESCO’s priorities, especially Africa and gender equality, while streamlining working methods and reducing costs. With these reforms, UNESCO will be able to continue serving its Member States with programmes targeting youth, Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and countries in post-conflict and post-disaster situations. The Organization is now preparing for a busy year that includes the World Water Forum in Marseille, the Technical and Vocational Educational Training Summit in Shanghai, World Press Freedom Day in Tunis, Rio +20 in Brazil and celebrations for the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.
"The Roadmap now provides the Organization with a clear sense of direction, and it sets firm targets to meet as we move forward," said the Director-General at the Board’s closing session today. “I am determined to meet the targets we have set in all areas -- including cost efficiency, restructuring and human resource management. My commitment to reforming the Organization is steadfast. The reform we have started is irreversible."
During this session the Executive Board decided to vote on implementation of the UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International prize for Research in the Life Sciences. Member States urged the Director-General to implement the Prize by a vote of 33 to 18. They also approved a change of name for the Prize, which will now be called the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences.
In addition, the Executive Board addressed the ongoing civil strife in Syria. Members voiced extreme concern over “the continuous deterioration of the situation in Syria with the violent repression affecting civilians, including children, students and journalists.”
The Executive Board condemned the systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and invited UNESCO, “when the situation on the ground allows it, to take all possible measures (…) to resume its essential role particularly in education, freedom of expression, communication and protection of heritage.”