16.05.2017 - ODG

Nordic family join forces to strengthen UNESCO

From 10 to 12 May 2017, UNESCO and the Nordic Member States (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland) held their First Joint Annual Consultations, in order to pilot a new approach to the sustainable financing of UNESCO’s programme and budget -- known as ‘Structured Financing Dialogues’.

The highlight of these intensive discussions was a High Level Meeting held on 11 May, attended by Ministers and senior officials from the Nordic Member States to discuss the strategic thrust of the upcoming programme and budget of UNESCO for 2018-2021, and to explore opportunities for engagement, with a strong focus on UNESCO’s action in taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the High Level Meeting by emphasizing the leadership, commitment and vision that the Nordic countries bring to UNESCO.

“I see our partnership as a gold standard, building on close ties, on strong commitment and real trust, which are the underpinnings of our unique partnership.”

Member States unanimously welcomed UNESCO’s transition to an integrated budget and programme, with its holistic and unprecedented transparent vision of the resources required to support UNESCO’s programme. They acknowledged the key role of UNESCO in achieving the 2030 agenda and stressed the importance of gender equality, intersectoriality, transparency, active engagement in UN reform and the pursuit of further improvements in result-based management and reporting as key factors for success and increasing donors’ trust.

In the course of the debate, Nordic Member States encouraged UNESCO to strengthen its advocacy in areas where it has a strong comparative advantage, such as its leadership role on SDG 4 for education, on freedom of expression, water and oceans, strengthening scientific research, cultural diversity and creative industries for development as well as the preservation of heritage at risk.

One of the central objectives of the Structured Financing Dialogues is to work towards more predictable, sustainable funding of the programme.

In this relation, the Swedish Minister for Education, Mr Gustav Fridolin, stressed that by signing a four-year funding agreement synchronised with UNESCO’s programme, Sweden had chosen to ‘walk the talk.’ During the consultations, both Norway and Finland indicated their intentions to place their support for UNESCO on a multi-year footing in the future. Denmark and Iceland informed that they highly value UNESCO’s role and will continue to be active and engaged partners to the Organization. 

Very significant funding initiatives were formalized in parallel to the meetings -- including support from Sida of SEK 118,116,000 (equivalent to USD 13,3 million) for the period 2017-2021 to support scientific research in the developing world for the UNESCO programmes, the World Academy of sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS) and the ‘Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)’. In addition, a signing ceremony was held between the Director-General Irina Bokova and the Swedish Minister for Education, Gustav Fridolin, aiming to provide an additional contribution of 10 million SEK (equivalent to USD 1.1 million) for strengthening UNESCO’s global leadership in the promotion of comprehensive sexuality education and safe learning environments.

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