On 8 June 2017, the Kingdom of Sweden announced a financial contribution to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) during a meeting between UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and Swedish Minister for the Environment, Karolina Skog, on the margins of the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.
Among the various areas of cooperation discussed, the field of ocean literacy was particularly highlighted as it constitutes one of IOC’s voluntary commitments to the Ocean Conference, in partnership with over a dozen intergovernmental, scientific and civil society organizations.
This initiative, entitled “Ocean Literacy for All: A global strategy to raise the awareness for the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our ocean”, aims to develop an improved public knowledge base across the world’s population regarding our global ocean and the close links between ocean and human well-being. It is also strategically linked to UNESCO’s work on Education for Sustainable Development.
“All of us need to know more about how the ocean influences us, and how we influence the ocean. Sweden is happy to provide financial support to the voluntary commitment on Ocean Literacy for All,” said Ms Skog. “When kids get the possibility to feel for example a starfish in their hands or learn about our ocean, a new world opens to them. To feel and learn is the first step to take action to save our ocean.”
Sweden will also support the IOC’s proposal for an International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) at the 29th Session of the IOC Assembly (21-29 June), and the importance of ensuring that the appropriate space is made available to ensure that policy-makers are developing policies based on sound science.
Sweden, alongside Fiji, was co-chair of the Ocean Conference.
Representatives of partner organizations involved in the “Ocean Literacy for All” commitment gave their views at a side event on Ocean Literacy for All at the Conference:
Wendy Watson-Wright, former IOC Executive Secretary and currently Chief Executive Officer of the Ocean Frontier Institute (Canada), added that “ocean literacy does more than teach about the sea. It supports the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, increasing both learner and teacher engagement. It’s a key step forward to making a positive impact on the entire planet.”
Ana Noronha, Executive Director of Ciência Viva (Portugal), explained that the initiative is “addressing educators to include more ocean topics in their practice, to share resources and to create new pedagogical materials. We also network with science centers, aquaria and museums to mobilize citizens, decision-makers and industry actors to take action for a sustainable use of the ocean. Being able to communicate a sense of urgency while helping to find solutions will be more important than ever.”
Gail Scowcroft, from the Consortium for Ocean Science Exploration and Engagement (COSEE), for her part insisted on the need for more cooperation at all levels. “We rely on the ocean to moderate our climate, provide food for us and other life on Earth, and support our well-being. Partnerships and collaborations between ocean scientists, education professionals, policy-makers, and business leaders are critical if we are to have a truly ocean literate citizenry,” she said.
All details about the initiative can be found on The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments alongside other commitments undertaken by Governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector, scientific institutions and other stakeholders towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 – to conserve and sustainable use our ocean.
For more information, please contact:
Francesca Santoro (f.santoro(at)unesco.org)
Magaly Solier, Peruvian actress and singer, will be designated UNESCO Artist for Peace on June 26th. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova made the designation “in recognition of her efforts to protect and promote indigenous languages and music throughout her artistic career and for her commitment to the ideals of UNESCO.”
Born in a Quechua family in the Huanta Province (Ayacucho region), Peru, Magaly Solier Romero worked in the fields with her parents and brothers. She started her singing career when she won a prize at the Ayacuchana Song Festival in 2003. A year later, she had her first acting role in the Peruvian movie, Madeinusa, directed by Claudia Llosa. Thanks to this first full-length feature film, she was doubly awarded “Best actress” in 2006: at the Cartagena de Indias Film Festival in Columbia and at the Montreal Ibero-Latino-American festival in Canada.
In 2009, she acted in Claudia Llosa’s movie Fausta (La Teta Asustada), which brought her worldwide recognition. She then received roles in Altiplano, directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, and in Amador, directed by Fernando León de Aranoa. This movie was entered in the Guadalajara International Film Festival in Mexico, where Ms Solier received the “Best Actress” award. That same year she released her first album – Warmy. Most of the songs are sung in Quechua and it was awarded “Best Music Album” in Peru.
In 2014, she released her second album, Coca Quintucha, which includes Andean traditional songs performed in Quechua. Following the album’s release, she performed several concerts in indigenous languages such as Quechua, Aymara, Ashaninka and Muchik.
Magaly Solier’s artistic career reflects her commitment to peace, human rights, social justice, environmental protection, and rights for children to study in their mother tongue. Through her creations, she also expresses her support for the struggle against gender inequality and violence against women. One of her missions as a UNESCO Artist for Peace will be the promotion of the Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019, as well as the promotion of the UNESCO Atlas of languages, which is being prepared.
UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally-renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO’s message and programmes. UNESCO works with these distinguished personalities in order to heighten public awareness regarding key development issues and to inform the public what our Organization's action is in these fields.
The nomination ceremony will take place at 1:00 pm at the 7th Floor Restaurant. Journalists wishing to attend the event are requested to contact UNESCO’s Media Section.
Contact: Djibril Kebe, firstname.lastname@example.org ; +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 41
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, deplores the destruction of the Al Nuree Mosque and Al Hadba Minaret in Mosul.
“The Al Hadba Minaret and Al Nuree Mosque in Mosul were among the most iconic sites in the city, and stood as a symbol of identity, resilience and belonging. When Daesh targeted the mosque and minaret a few month ago, the people of Mosul formed a human chain to protect the site, proving once again that the protection of heritage cannot be delinked from the protection of human lives,” said the Director General.
“This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy, with 3 million internally displaced persons and 6,2 million in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. This calls for immediate and strengthened international mobilization,” added the Director-General.
Since the launch of the offensive in Mosul in October 2017, around 750,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced from the city; many are trapped or being used as human shields.
“On this day, I wish to express to the people of Iraq UNESCO’s renewed solidarity and readiness to support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage whenever possible. Despite all odds, the spirit of resilience embodied by al-Hadba must prevail and UNESCO will continue to stand by the people of Iraq to regain their heritage and fight back against all forms of extremism and violence through culture, education and human rights.”
Located in West Mosul, in the old city, the Great Mosque of al-Nuree was considered one of the main historical mosques in Iraq. It was originally built by Nureddine Zangi in 1172 AD, during the Abbasid Caliphate. It underwent several renovations and restorations throughout the years. Its outstanding iconic feature was the leaning minaret known as al-Hadba (the hunchback), which had retained its authentic architectural and structural features for hundreds of years.
As early as 2012, UNESCO worked for the safeguarding of al-Hadba. A few days prior to the occupation of Mosul by Daesh in June 2014, UNESCO had taken an important step towards safeguarding and consolidation of the al Hadba Minaret. Works had to be interrupted due to the conflict, although a comprehensive study for the conservation of the minaret has been completed and could be useful in the future. In February 2017, UNESCO convened an International Coordination Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq and adopted an Action Plan for the future safeguarding of this outstanding cultural heritage.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today denounced the killing of Kurdish journalist Bakhtyar Haddad and French reporter Stéphane Villeneuve in the city of Mosul, Iraq.
“I condemn the killing of Bakthyar Haddad and Stéphane Villeneuve” said the Director-General. “Journalists face tremendous dangers in carrying out their job, a job where they provide us with vital information enabling us to build towards peace. I remind everyone that journalists are protected as civilians under the Geneva Conventions.”
Mr. Haddad, a reporter who worked as a fixer, assisting foreign reporters, and correspondent Stéphane Villeneuve, were working together in Mosul reporting for the France 2 programme, “Envoyé special”. They were covering the frontlines when a roadside bomb exploded, killing Haddad instantly and seriously injuring Villeneuve and other team members on 19 June. Villeneuve was transported to the hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds within a few hours.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, email@example.com, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
A new UNESCO policy paper shows that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school. Yet, new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show persistently high out-of-school rates in many countries, making it likely that completion levels in education will remain well below that target for generations to come.
The paper, Reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education, is being released ahead of the UN High Level Political Forum (10-19 July), which will focus on poverty eradication in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The paper demonstrates the importance of recognizing education as a core lever for ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere.
“The new analysis on education’s far-reaching benefits released today should be good news for all those working on the Sustainable Development Goal to eradicate poverty by 2030,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “It shows that we have a concrete plan to ensure people no longer have to live on barely a few dollars a day, and that that plan has education at its heart.”
The new analysis on education’s impact on poverty by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report team is based on the average effects of education on growth and poverty reduction in developing countries from 1965 to 2010. It shows that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling. If all adults completed secondary education, 420 million could be lifted out of poverty, reducing the total number of poor people by more than half globally and by almost two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Studies have shown that education has direct and indirect impacts on both economic growth and poverty. Education provides skills that boost employment opportunities and incomes while helping to protect people from socio-economic vulnerabilities. A more equitable expansion of education is likely to reduce inequality, lifting the poorest from the bottom of the ladder.
Despite education’s potential, new UIS data show that there has been virtually no progress in reducing out-of-school rates in recent years. Globally, 9% of all children of primary school age are still denied their right to education, with rates reaching 16% and 37% for youth of lower and upper secondary ages, respectively. In total, 264 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school in 2015.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest out-of-school rates for all age groups: more than half (57%) of all youth between the ages of 15 and 17 are not in school, as are more than one-third (36%) of adolescents between 12 and 14 years and one-fifth (21%) of children between the ages of about 6 and 11. Six countries are home to more than one-third of all out-of-school children of primary age: Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sudan.
Of the 61 million children of primary school age currently out of school, 17 million will never to set foot in a classroom if current trends continue. This affects one in three children out of school in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia and Northern Africa, and more than one in four of those in Central Asia and Southern Asia.
Girls in poor countries continue to face particularly steep barriers to education. According to UIS data, in low-income countries, more than 11 million girls of primary age are out of school, compared to almost 9 million boys. The good news is that the girls who do manage to start school tend to complete the primary cycle and pursue their studies at the secondary level.
Education must reach the poorest in order to maximize its benefits and reduce income inequality. Yet the GEM Report shows that children from the poorest 20% of families are eight times as likely to be out of school as children from the richest 20% in lower-middle-income countries. Those of primary and secondary school age in the poorest countries are nine times as likely to be out of school as those in the richest countries.
While calling on countries to improve the quality of education, the paper stresses the need to reduce the direct and indirect costs of education for families. New UIS data confirm that many households still have to bear expenses relating to education, totaling $87 per child for primary education in Ghana, $151 per child in Côte d’Ivoire and $680 in El Salvador.
For more information, please contact –
Kate Redman on 0033 671786234 firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Otchet, +1 514 343 7933 email@example.com
Join in the conversation online @GEMReport @UNESCOStat/ #EdFightsPoverty
More about out-of-school children: the UNESCO eAtlas on Out-of-School Children has a series of interactive maps with global and national data:
In a major show of support for the activities and institutional visibility of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency offered to print and distribute the recently published “One Planet, One Ocean” IOC corporate brochure among German policy-makers and the wider scientific community.
Representing the German government within IOC’s governance framework, the Maritime and Hydrographic Agency – BSH, for short – saw the publication of IOC’s new corporate brochure as an opportunity to strengthen its intergovernmental engagement, and to raise the visibility of global ocean science priorities within the German policy and scientific communities.
BSH will circulate more than 850 copies of IOC’s “One Planet, One Ocean” corporate brochure throughout Germany. The publications will help promote IOC’s activities within policy networks as well as foster further collaboration with German scientific and research institutions. Brochures will also be distributed at several ocean science-related events across the country.
Germany is a longtime collaborator of IOC. The Commission has a strong and longtime collaboration with the German government, including the development of the Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (InaTEWS).
Germany invested EUR 50 million in the creation of this early warning system, which operates under IOC coordination. As BSH President and Head of the German Delegation to IOC Monika Breuch-Moritz explains in the IOC corporate brochure, “scientific staff from several German institutions were seconded to the UNESCO office in Jakarta and to IOC’s Tsunami Unit in Paris to support the quick operationalization of the system.”
The circulation of corporate brochures in Germany stands out as an exemplary effort by BSH to anchor IOC’s growing global visibility at the national level. Such collaboration between the IOC Secretariat and its Member States on communication and outreach will be key to ensuring wide recognition of IOC’s unique role in the coordination of global ocean science.
On 20 June, 2017, the Director-General convened a special senior management meeting in order to discuss the protracted critical financial situation faced by the Organization as a result of the current shortfall in cash flow, stemming from the non-payment of major contributors to the Organization.
"The spirit of this meeting, which has generated considerable concerns amongst staff across the Organization, is for the SMT to face the current financial situation in which the Organization finds itself right today," said Irina Bokova. "As the Chief Administrative Officer of this Organization, it is my responsibility to call upon each of you to take action and for us all together to anticipate risks and devise measures to confront the present financial situation with the full sense of responsibility that falls upon each of you. No one should be in a denial mode”.
The Director-General urged the SMT to ensure a close monitoring of the cash flow situation from the perspective of their respective Sectors and Offices.
In doing so, they are required to undertake an in-depth risk assessment of activities and operations, and to submit to her proposed mitigating measures to face the current situation up to the December 2017 and prior to the implementation of the contingency plan in the fall.
She highlighted that all managers should engage in a thorough review of their activities, looking at statutory commitments and costs, reducing costs across the board from activities to staff, technical expertise and travel by the end of June, prior to the implementation of the contingency plan in line with Executive Board Decision 201 EX/25 part II.
“In doing so, we are complying with our corporate responsibility to monitor the financial situation of the Organization as well as its implications for programme delivery," said Irina Bokova.
The Director-General also underlined that unlike the period 2011/2012, the Organization has a risk assessment mechanism now in place and therefore managers have to devise and monitor their individual risk assessment plans.
She also stressed that there is will not be any emergency fund to provide any relief as was the case in 2012, thereby creating additional pressure on the already strained budget resources.
The Chief Financial Officer of the Organization gave a detailed presentation of the cash flow situation, explaining that in order to make payments, UNESCO needs predictability of cash flow. She pursued by stressing that the Organization is in a unique situation with 3 of the top 25 contributors with arrears currently of $75M to which chronic arrears add up every biennium.
The Chief Financial Officer indicated that sustained efforts had been deployed to remind Members States of their obligations, and in particular to secure a date of payment, in order to plan borrowing needs.
The Director of the Bureau of Strategic Planning informed about the consultative process with Sectors and Services, requesting them to assess the impact on programme delivery ahead of implementing the contingency plan, including by identifying major commitments, events and operations planned for the next 6 months which would be impacted by this budget reduction, whether at Headquarters or in the Field.
A preliminary analysis of contributions received is currently underway. A broad-based risk assessment should be applied, taking into account the broader risks to the Organization, as well as possible mitigation measures, including programmatic risks and UNESCO’s strategic positioning risks, and their possible mitigation.
He also indicated that the Risk Management Committee should be consulted for advice on risk analysis and recommendations for risk mitigation.
Lastly, the Director-General requested the Risk Management Committee to examine in detail risk assessment plans across the Organization and submit to her its final recommendations.
She also informed of her intention to address formal letters to the Chairperson of the Executive Board and to the President of the General Conference on the financial situation in order to maintain an open and transparent dialogue on this matter.
"Member States have to be fully informed and are an integral part of the response to the critical situation faced by the Organization” she added.
The Director-General concluded by requesting that the Open-ended Working Group on the preparation of the 39 C/5 that is going to meet on Thursday 29 June be fully informed on the ongoing risk assessment analysis and contingency plan.
UNESCO was invited to Cuba to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Cuba recognizes the leading role that the organization plays in supporting efforts of countries to prevent and address violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Cuba celebrated for the tenth year the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). Each year since 2007, informative and festive activities take place in several Cuban cities during several days to mark the IDAHOT, which is celebrated globally on 17 May.
“Schools without homophobia and transphobia”
Activities are organized by the National Centre for Sexuality Education (CENESEX), an organization whose Director is Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, who is also a Member of Parliament and the daughter of the President of the Republic of Cuba, Mr. Raúl Castro.
This year the theme chosen by CENESEX was “Schools without homophobia and transphobia”. CENESEX invited UNESCO to participate in the celebration of the IDAHOT, in recognition of the leading role that the organization plays in supporting efforts of countries to prevent and address school violence and bullying, including that based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
During a press conference with local media, Dr. Mariela Castro and Mr. Christophe Cornu, Team Leader in the Section of Health and Education at UNESCO headquarters, stressed the negative educational and health consequences of school-related homophobic and transphobic violence on equal access to education. This acts against the provision of safe, non-violent and inclusive learning environments for all children and adolescents (UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 target 4.a).
“Combatting homophobia and transphobia, in and through education, contributes to building inclusive education and societies,” said Dr. Mariela Castro.
Homophobic and transphobic school violence is a form of gender-based violence
The celebrations of the IDAHOT in Cuba gave the opportunity to gather 1,000 university students and secondary and tertiary education teachers at the University of Las Villas in Santa Clara around the issues of homophobia and transphobia in education.
Mr. Cornu explained how homophobic and transphobic violence and bullying manifest in schools, and that it is a form of gender-based violence, fuelled by gender norms and stereotypes. Data on the high prevalence of homophobic and transphobic violence and bullying in the world, and particularly Latin America, were shared. The components of an effective education sector response were described, based on the best practice from all around the world documented by UNESCO over the last years, and synthesized in the report published in 2016, Out in the Open: Education sector responses to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
During a lively debate, participants in the audience talked about their own experience of homophobic and transphobic violence in Cuban educational settings, as teachers or students.
CENESEX and UNESCO will collaborate to generate evidence on the situation in Cuba
There is currently little scientific evidence available on the prevalence of homophobic and transphobic violence in educational settings in Cuba, and on the existing response. CENESEX and UNESCO, through its Office in the Havana, have agreed to work together to generate data that will help the Cuban government and national education stakeholders design evidence-based programmes to combat more effectively school-related homophobic and transphobic violence.
On 19 June 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, attended the ceremony of restitution of an illicitly trafficked Roman Sarcophagus to Turkey. The sarcophagus was discovered in 2010 by the Swiss customs in a warehouse of the Ports francs of Geneva. After 7 years of investigation, the sarcophagus is now returned to Turkey, its country of origin.
The ceremony took place at the University of Geneva, in the presence of the Director of the Geneva Museum, Mr Jean-Ynes Marin, the Rector of the University of Geneva, Mr Yves Flueckiger, State Councilor of Geneva, Mr Pierre Maudet and the Minister of Culture of Turkey, H.E. Professor Nabi Avci.
The Director-General highlighted in this context the importance and effectiveness of UNESCO’s 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
"This Convention offers a strong legal basis and this event shows it gives results. I hope it will encourage Member States and all actors to ratify the Convention and strengthen their tools and legislation," said the Director-General.
“Illicit trafficking is a cultural and social scandal that deprives people of their history, their past, and therefore their future,” she added.
“The example of international cooperation between Turkey and Switzerland in this restitution shows also the great power of cultural diplomacy in building bridges,” She continued.
The Minister of Culture of Turkey, H.E. Professor Nabi Avci, thanked the Swiss Government for their cooperation and added: "Turkey will make every effort to help strengthen the UNESCO 1970 Convention, which is very important to halt illicit trafficking."
The exhibition offers insight into the art of the ancient city of Perge, known today for its theater, columns and necropolis. Carved in the 2nd century AD, the sarcophagus adorned with the twelve works of Hercules and weighs nearly three tons.
On the same day, the Director-General met in a bilateral meeting with his Excellency Mr Nabi Avci, who renewed his commitment to work with UNESCO to fight illicit trafficking of cultural goods. She commended the Minister for his continuous support to UNESCO’s action.