Prof. Hubert Gijzen - New Director UNESCO Jakarta Office
The UNESCO Jakarta office has a new Director. Professor Hubert Gijzen assumed the directorship starting from 1 August 2006, replacing the previous director Prof Stephen Hill who has retired recently.
During the interim period of about seven months, UNESCO Jakarta Mr. Han Qunli acted as Director ad interim.
In his new position, Mr. Gijzen will lead the Jakarta office which functions as the Regional Science Bureau for Asia and Pacific covering more than 50 countries in the region, while he will also be the UNESCO Representative to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor Leste.
In his first address to the staff of the Jakarta Office, the newly appointed Director acknowledged the good reputation and achievements of the office, through the various programmes and activities that fall under UNESCO's mandate (i.e. in the field of education, science, culture and communication/information). Hubert Gijzen stated, "I compliment my predecessor Stephen Hill and all staff with this achievement and look forward to working with you to keep up this standard in the coming years".
He further noted that as the Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, the Jakarta office covers a region with more than 50% of the world population, with the highest population densities and with the highest development challenges (in numbers) as expressed in the MDGs. "With this in mind, I am convinced that we will together face a most challenging, exiting and satisfactory period in the UNESCO Jakarta office", he said.
He reminded the staff to take note of a number of important changes and challenges that have appeared on the horizon, including the Global and Institutional landscape with regards to the UN reform, the repositioning of UN and UNESCO, the move towards inter-sectoral approaches, the decentralization, changing donor policies and changing demands from our Member States. "These are of the issues that are there to stay and we will have to deal with them".
He also put emphasis on the role of science and education in achieving Sustainable Development, something which cannot be overemphasized. The international agenda for SD is dictated to a large extend by the MDGs. Donors feel comfortable with this as these targets are clear, measurable and can be easily monitored. This also means that UNESCO Jakasrta will have to develop a clear understanding of this new donor landscape. Hence, it is important for UNESCO Jakarta to demonstrate the role of the UNESCO's field of expertise, namely Science, Education, Culture, and Communication/Information to support the MDGs. He believes that the MDGs will not be achieved by a 'more of the same' approach. In other words, the MDGs call for creativity and innovation (a key role for Science) and for a boost in capacity via training and education, while also applying innovation as there (key role of education).
Within this context, he believes that the office should operate in the most efficient way possible, through a thoughtful and participatory strategic planning process in defining priorities of programmes and activities. In other words, he likes to see how UNESCO Jakarta could organize its programmes by focusing more on results, impact and delivery rather than on the management and administration. He stated: "For programme and project efficiency we should bank on our excellent existing networks, activities and contacts."
In Mr. Gijzen's view, UNESCO is in a very dynamic time, in a changing world that demands change within the UN family, in which partnership will be the key word. Partnership internally in the office between the different units and staff, partnership also with the cluster countries, the national commissions and relevant ministries, and partnership with the donor community. "Partnership as the key to boost our impact for the benefit of Member states," he said.
To the office staff he ensured that he will try his best to maintain or further increase the good working environment and positive team spirit in the office. He is convinced that investing in people and investing in working atmosphere ensures that the office gets the best out of people. This is therefore an almost self-benefiting goal that the office should embrace all together as a team. "Please accept me as part of this excellent team. Lets work together to keep this office in the top of the UNESCO field offices and let us make sure the cluster offices will benefit from our work in all sectors of UNESCO, while the Asia pacific region will notice our efforts in science".
Hubert Gijzen is of Dutch nationality. Prior to joining UNESCO Jakarta, he was a Professor of Environmental Biotechnology and Head of Core in the UNESCO-IHE Institute of Water Education in Delft, The Netherlands. He also worked for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for a number of universities, both in The Netherlands, as well as abroad. He holds a broad science base and interest. Although he has a training background in Biology (MSc) and Biotechnology (PhD), he had the opportunity to work in a range of different disciplines during his career of 24 years, including microbiology, biotechnology, sanitary engineering, and environmental sciences. He has been involved in a number of international education, research and capacity building programmes and projects in various fields of natural sciences and engineering. He and his wife have lived and worked in different countries and regions, including Tanzania (5 years), Colombia (4 years) and Bangladesh (1.5 years).
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