21.12.2012 - ODG

Director-General highlights the role of education, culture and science in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development in her meeting with the President of the World Bank


On 20 December, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, to discuss UNESCO's cooperation with the World Bank. At the meeting, the Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s unique expertise in the field of education, recalling that UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed her as Executive Secretary for the Steering Committee of Education First, his new global initiative.

his Initiative aims to spur a global movement to put quality, relevant and transformative education at the top of the social, political and development agenda.  It is designed to accelerate the achievement of the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals, and to inform the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. Quoting UNESCO’s 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report, the Director-General underlined that 200 million young people still lack basic numeracy and literacy skills. 

Mr Kim noted that sustainable economic growth is embedded in the quality of our education systems. He informed the Director-General that he would like to engage in discussions with UNESCO and other stakeholders on learning strategies in higher education and that more innovative approaches were needed in this area. He also highlighted the importance of organizing higher education systems for economic growth. They both agreed on the importance of higher education and the necessity for more investment in this area.

The Director-General also discussed the important role of culture and development in creating jobs and promoting social inclusion, peace and reconciliation. In 2011, UNESCO and the World Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop joint activities in this area. She further emphasized the importance of promoting culture as an enabler for development in the Post 2015 UN Development Agenda, noting, for instance, that cultural industries make up 8% of Brazil’s GDP. To showcase the real, socio-economic impact of culture, UNESCO will be organizing a Conference in Hangzhou in May 2013 on Culture and Development.

The Director-General went on to highlight the importance of science for sustainability and underlined the need to strengthen the science-policy interface. The UN Secretary-General has entrusted UNESCO with the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Council, in consultation with the wider UN system. The objective of this Board will be to advise the UN Secretary General on science-related issues, and enable him to provide advice to UN Member States in these areas.

It was agreed that UNESCO and the World Bank would work together on the Education First initiative, on strengthening the quality of education, and on the Post 2015 UN Development Agenda.  

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