UNESCO and Costa Rica: partners in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, highlighted the wealth of Costa Rica’s expertise in driving forward the just-adopted 2030 sustainable development agenda during a meeting with President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera on 29 September 2015, on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Your country has many exemplary policies in place to promote sustainability, spanning the protection of biodiversity, the promotion of multiculturalism and the advancement of quality education and global citizenship,” said the Director-General, affirming the importance of such education for environmental protection, resilience in the face of climate change as well as for countering radicalization.

President Solís Rivera noted the sense of urgency permeating the debates at the United Nations General Assembly and expressed his commitment to continued cooperation with UNESCO across its fields of competence, with specific mention of cultural heritage, citing the Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves/La Amistad National Park, along with the Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís site that was inscribed in 2014.

 He underlined also the significance of the change in Costa Rica’s constitution, following a vote by Parliament last year that declared the country as a pluricultural and multiethnic nation. Recognizing the importance of this change, the Director-General also noted UNESCO’s advocacy for the recognition of culture as a development enabler and force for social inclusion in the 2030 agenda.

She said that UNESCO and the UN’s specialized agencies will have a strengthened role to play in the implementation of this agenda that is universal in scope, both through normative work to strengthen national institutions and across the sustainable development goals. Making specific reference to UNESCO’s expertise in the sciences and to the sustainability model promoted through its Biosphere Reserves, she expressed hope that strong decisions would also be taken at COP21 in Paris later this year.

President Solís Rivera turned to the future of the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), headquartered in Costa Rica, sharing his resolve to reorient its academic programmes towards a more practical focus, geared to training experts in fields aligned with the UN’s priorities, and noting efforts to attract new donors through a targeted fundraising strategy.  The Director-General welcomed these developments and affirmed her support to accompany these efforts.

In ending, the Director-General presented the President with the Organization’s 70th anniversary medal in recognition of Costa Rica's longstanding cooperation with UNESCO.