26.04.2020 - Canadian National Commission

Canadian Commission for UNESCO COVID-19 Response

Update on the National Commission’s recent efforts in the context of the COVID-19 crisis

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO has decided to accelerate the development of publications of relevance in the context of the pandemic. Of note:

Open Science: a new paper on Open Science (and a related blog) has been published. The document is the result of consultations with the Commission’s members, including several from the Youth Advisory Group. The offices of the Chief Scientists of Canada and Quebec have also been involved. The paper provides Canadian perspectives on open science and will serve as the basis for consultations on the development of a possible UNESCO recommendation on the issue. The Commission is currently working on other themes in greater depth. With its UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education (which has a co-Chair in India), it is exploring the role of open science in the decolonization of knowledge. Discussions are also underway to explore issues specific to the Francophonie. 

Education: Among the Commission’s recent publications, there is a new Teacher’s Guide for UNESCO Associated Schools, which is at the heart of a new blog published on the issue of education in times of crisis. This blog recommends online resources from Canadian partners and has generated lots of interest on social media. 

AI: The Commission will soon receive the first draft of a discussion paper on artificial intelligence and education, that may be of interest to other National Commissions.

The Commission has also established two major partnerships:

-  Social Impacts Network on COVID-19: The Commission joined forces with the Association for Canadian Studies and the Vanier Institute to create the Network with the purpose to monitor the social impacts of the pandemic and provide analysis and ideas to help decision-makers respond appropriately. This initiative is supported by an expert committee of senior representatives (including the Assistant Chief Statistician of Canada), academia, the private sector and civil society. The research is based on surveys conducted by Leger Marketing. It highlights how Canadians of diverse backgrounds respond to radical and sudden changes in their society. It is hoped that this research will, among other things, help understand how people from diverse backgrounds are affected by this pandemic. The Commission is considering a series of analysis and publications on the social issues affecting for example youth, seniors and newcomers that will be made available within its networks, including its Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities, which is a member of the ICCAR steering committee.

-  Working group on ecosystems and green infrastructure: Another partnership has just been established with UNESCO Chairs in Canada. Under the leadership of the new UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability at Wilfrid Laurier University, a working group has been created to propose investments that could contribute to post-COVID economic recovery while strengthening the resilience and self-sufficiency of the communities and the fight against climate change. The Commission is planning a series of opinion pieces and issues briefs on priority themes such as ecosystems and biodiversity, food systems and green infrastructure. Critical issues such as strengthening local governance and the circular economy will be addressed. The idea is to identify relevant public policy considerations for all levels of government. Emphasis will be placed on networks and partnerships that should be leveraged, including UNESCO ones such as Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks.

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