02.10.2009 - UNESCO Social and Human Sciences

Social impact of the global economic crisis at the heart of the 9th Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s MOST Programme

Ministers of Social Development, social science researchers and representatives from NGOs and the private sector from all over the world met at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France) from 28 to 30 September 2009 for the 9th session of the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST), to analyze the social impact of the global economic crisis.

Opened by Zola Skweyiya, former South African Minister of Social Development and current President of the MOST Intergovernmental Council (IGC) and the Chairperson of the MOST Scientific Advisory Committee, the Egyptian academic, Nazli Choucri, renowned scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this session had three main highlights.

On the first day, the 35 States composing this decision-making body examined the activities implemented by UNESCO since 2007.

A 20-minute film was projected which put into perspective the role of the MOST Programme in the context of the current crisis. They were also introduced to the new features of the MOST internet server, which aims to facilitate policy-makers’ access to the results of social science research conducted around the world.

The second day, a true “Inter-regional Forum for Social Development”, composed of two round tables, was introduced by Pierre Sané, the Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences.

Ministers, social scientists, actors from the private sector and representatives from international organizations and NGOs analyzed the national and international responses to the financial crisis already brought about by public policies in order to make way for future action.

The first round table thus was the opportunity to present the measures taken by some African, Latin American, Asian and Arab countries, with the participation of Jordan’s Minister of Social Development, Hala Lattouf; the Minister of Social Coordination of Ecuador, Jeannette Sanchez; Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia, Harjeet Singh; the Chief Executive Officer of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Jerry Vilakazi; the Executive Secretary of the NGO ENDA-Tiers Monde, Joséphine Ouedraogo; and the Research Coordinator of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Katja Hujo.

During the afternoon round table, international responses to the crisis were addressed by eight speakers : Jean-Yves Le Saux from UNESCO, Martin Hopenhayn from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Gustave Massiah from the World Social Forum, Sylvia Walby, researcher at the University of Lancaster, Faith Innerarity, Permanent Secretary of Jamaica’s Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Véronique Morali, President of the Terrafemina Association as well as a representative from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

At the close of these two days of debate, representatives from the IGC Member States adopted recommendations concerning the direction the Programme will take for the next two years. These recommendations will then be submitted for adoption to Member States at the 35th UNESCO General Conference, which will take place from 6 to 23 October 2009.

As the only United Nations programme in charge of contributing through social science research to the development of policies able to better respond to the changes of contemporary society, the MOST Programme should be called upon more than ever to play its unique role: that of a think tank of nations. </font></font>

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