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Global Ocean Oxygen Network: Scientists meet to discuss progress and future activities

Unesco Most Programme - 1 hour 40 min ago
article_go2nemeeting2017.jpg © UNESCO

Oxygen is critical to the health of the ocean, of the planet. It affects the cycles of carbon, nitrogen and other key elements, and is a fundamental requirement for marine life from the seashore to the greatest depths of the ocean. Nevertheless, deoxygenation is worsening in the coastal and open ocean because of human activities.

From 11 to 13 September 2017, the Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE), a working group established by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in 2016, met for the second time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Monterey, USA. The goal of the workshop was to further advance the Network’s efforts in providing a global and multidisciplinary view of deoxygenation, with a focus on understanding the full scale of the problem and offering scientific advice to policy makers to counter this concerning trend.

“A lot happened since GO2NE’s last meeting in 2016,” explained Kirsten Isensee, IOC Project Specialist. “The Network contributed to side events at the UNFCCC COP22 as well as organized a side event at the United Nations Ocean Conference, which helped to increase awareness among different stakeholders. Further capacity building activities, such as expert workshops and a summer school, are currently in the pipeline and will further help to build capacity among young scientists and senior researchers.”

The meeting touched on various questions related to the Network’s scientific work as well as outreach and capacity building, in particular the submitted voluntary commitment to the UN Ocean Conference OceanAction 15767, the upcoming international Ocean Deoxygenation Conference in September 2018 in Kiel, Germany, several scientific publications, and specific capacity development activities in 2019.

On the last day of the meeting, GO2NE was joined by a group of experts that focuses particularly on the Variability in the Oxycline and its ImpaCts on the Ecosystem (VOICE) to explore possibilities for joint actions in the upcoming years. The VOICE workshop continued its discussions on 14-15 September 2017.

A wide range of actions are planned for the upcoming years to raise awareness on current and future impacts of declining oxygen concentrations on ocean and human health. For more information, please check regularly GO2NE and ocean-oxygen.org.

For more information, please contact:

Kirsten Isensee (k.isensee(at)unesco.org)

***

IOC working group – Global Ocean Oxygen Network, 11-13 September 2017, Monterey, USA: upper row – Mike Roman, Marilaure Gregoire(co-chair), Veronique Garçon, Kirsten Isensee, Moriaki Yasuhara, Wjih Naqvi; middle row – Grant Pitcher, Damodar Shenoy, Denis Gilbert, Maciej Telszewski, Dimitri Gutierrez, Denise Breitburg (co-chair), Ivonne Montes, Andreas Oschlies, Nancy Rabalais; lower row – Lisa Levin, Karin Limburg, Francisco Chavez, Gil Jacinto, Kenneth Rose.

Categories: News

A Joint Call to Step Up Education Financing

Unesco Most Programme - 3 hours 11 min ago

On 20 September, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called for increased financing to reach the global goal of inclusive and equitable quality education in a series of events organized in the context of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Leading a panel on country-led reform during the high-level side event on “Financing the Future: Education 2030”, she stated that “ownership is at the heart of implementing the 2030 agenda.” 

The starting point is that “education is a right and the single most important factor in beating poverty.” But one in four countries are not meeting the call for governments to allocate at least 4 to 6 per cent of GDP and/or 15 to 20 per cent of public expenditure to education. 

“The call for external financing is just as crucial,” she said. “Now we must act through political will, sound policies and partnerships.”

During the panel, the Secretary-General of the Maghreb Economic Forum, Amel Karboul, stressed the need to transform education systems to deliver because putting more money into broken systems devalues education. 

The Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Michaëlle Jean emphasized the urgency of investment in qualitative improvements, in skills training and learning in mother tongue. 

The former Minister of Education of the Republic of Korea, Ju-ho Lee, recalled the impact of his country’s historic investment in education, while the Chief Executive Officer of the African Women’s Development Fund Theo Sowa stressed the role of civil society in holding governments to account, while also partnering with them to reach the most marginalized populations.

The event brought together the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of Senegal Macky Sall and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg. It was co-hosted by Norway, France, Malawi and Senegal, in partnership with the Education Commission, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education, the Malala Fund and the One Campaign. Emphasis was placed by all leaders on increased investment; conflict and crisis situations; girls and young women and lifelong learning to cope with rapid transformations. 

During the event, the Presidents of France and Senegal announced the co-hosting of the Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Conference in Dakar on 8 February 2018, which will aim to mobilize USD 3.1 billion dollars for 2018-2020.

On the same day, the Director-General also took part in a side event on “Sustainably Financing Education”, hosted by the Global Campaign for Education. She asserted that “civil society is vital to continue pushing for education to be at the top of policy agendas and to hold governments to account.” 

She reiterated that effective mobilization of both domestic and external resources calls for innovative means and new financing sources. 

“But, first and foremost, we need substantial and consistent increase in domestic financing of education to meet the expanded scope and scale of the new education agenda.”  

At the event, Global Campaign President Camilla Crosso called for a strengthening of public education, while Education International President Susan Hopgood echoed this appeal, calling for a national and global approach to tax justice.

The same day, the Director-General joined the annual event organized by the Global Business Coalition for Education focusing on the private’s sector role in bridging the skills gap and preparing youth for a more collaborative economy. During the event, the Coalition’s Executive Chair, Sarah Brown, recognized the Director-General’s contribution to expanding educational opportunity for young people and children.  

Asked why she had made education a priority of her mandate, Ms Bokova asserted in that “in the past eight years, we have succeeded in creating a global movement to mobilize for education. This has happened through partnership,” she said. “This collective engagement is the only way to hold governments and all society to account – and make the future safer, more inclusive and prosperous for ultimate renewable resource – today’s children and youth."

The event saw the launch of the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative launched to bring young people, business and government officials together to look for the most effective ways to improve youth and innovation skills, with special emphasis on marginalized populations. It will make recommendations on how to develop and scale training, content and technology for the jobs of tomorrow. The Director-General is a member of this Commission, co-led by the Coalition and Intel.

Emphasis was also placed on children and youth in crisis situations, with several donors, including the European Union and Denmark, announcing commitments to Education Cannot Wait, the fund established in 2016 to mobilize resources, advocate and bridge the humanitarian to development divide.

Categories: News

617 million children and adolescents not getting the minimum in reading and math

Unesco Most Programme - 6 hours 25 min ago
21 September 2017

New data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. This signals “a learning crisis” according to the UIS, which could threaten progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.

The data breakdown shows more than 387 million children of primary school age (56%) and 230 million adolescents of lower secondary school age (61%), will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading and maths.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the single largest number: 202 million children and adolescents who are not learning these fundamental subjects. Across the region, nearly nine out of ten children between the ages of about 6 and 14 will not meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and math. Central and Southern Asia has the second highest rate, with 81%, or 241 million, not learning.

Most kids not learning are in school

Most surprising – and alarming – is that two-thirds of the kids who are not learning are in school. Of the 387 million primary age children unable to read proficiently, 262 million are in a classroom. There are also about 137 million adolescents of lower secondary age who are in classrooms, but unable to meet minimum proficiency levels in reading.

The data suggests the new numbers are rooted in three common problems. First, lack of access, with children who are out of school having little or no chance to reach a minimum level of proficiency. Second, a failure to retain every child in school and keep them on track, and third, the issue of the quality of education being delivered in the classroom.

A wake-up call

“The figures are staggering both in terms of the waste of human potential and for the prospects of achieving sustainable development,” says Silvia Montoya Director of UIS, “yet many of these children are not hidden or isolated from their governments and communities – they are sitting in classrooms with their own aspirations and potential.  We can reach these kids, but not by simply hoping that they stay in school and grasp the basics. These new data are a wake-up call for far greater investment in the quality of education.”

The global goals for education are clear: Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) signals a commitment from governments to ensure an “inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The new data are the very first to be gathered on progress towards SDG target 4.1, which requires primary and secondary education that lead to “relevant and effective learning outcomes.”

****

For more information

See the UIS paper, More Than One-Half of Children and Adolescents Are Not Learning Worldwide

 

Contacts:
Amy Otchet, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (Montreal, Canada), tel: +1 514-343-7933, email: a.otchet@unesco.org
Katja Frostell, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (Montreal, Canada), Tel: +1 514-343-7705, email: k.frostell@unesco.org

 

 

Categories: News

Call for nomination: UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Unesco Most Programme - 7 hours 13 min ago

UNESCO calls for candidatures for the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. Awarded since 2001, the Prize was established in 1998 in collaboration with the Government of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and is now at its 15th edition.
Call for Nominations - 15th Edition

With a view to increasing the visibility of this Prize further, UNESCO and the government of Sharjah would like to encourage you to propose qualified candidates who deserve to be rewarded for their literary, scientific or artistic achievements, as well as for their global outreach devoted to promoting Arab culture and its worldwide dissemination – independent of any religious considerations.

Extension of deadline for submissions of candidatures : 30 October 2017 at midnight.

Who is eligible?

The Prize fulfils its fundamental mission in highlighting the core message of the organization by promoting a dialogue among culture, and by rewarding significant contributions made by two eminent personalities, groups of persons or institutions (one from the Arab States and the other from elsewhere) to the development, knowledge and spread of Arab culture by means of artistic, intellectual or promotional outreach aimed at enhancing intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding. Proposed candidates should have earned an international reputation for meritorious action extending over several years.

Taking into account the important contribution of women, please take this opportunity to propose renowned female candidates, to bring a better gender balance to the list of Laureates.

How to submit your nomination

The Organization has established a rigorous process for selecting candidates. We encourage you, therefore, to propose the most qualified candidates from your country. You may wish to note that candidatures can be submitted online only.

Send an e-mail to the Secretariat of the Prize, prix.sharjah(at)unesco.org; tel.: +33 1 45 68 42 71, with the name and e-mail of the person authorized to submit your nominees on your behalf.

The Secretariat will then send all necessary information to the person concerned, notably on how to submit the candidature online. The Secretariat stands ready to respond to any queries you might have.

Nominations for the Prize should be submitted no later than 30 October 2017.

 

 

About the Prize ...

Established in 1998, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards, each year, two laureates – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavour to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture. 

Applicants to the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab culture must have contributed significantly towards the development, dissemination and the promotion of Arab culture in the world. The winners are chosen by the Director-General of UNESCO, on the recommendation of an international Jury of experts in the field of Arab Culture and having distinguished themselves, over several years, by meritorious actions. Thus, the winners contribute to the promotion of cultural dialogue and the revitalization of Arab culture. 

Twenty-two laureates have so far been awarded the Prize (with an amount of US$60 000, divided equally between the two laureates), in recognition of their contribution – in their respective disciplines – to Arab art and culture, or for participating in the dissemination of the latter outside the Arab world. Together, the prize winners have come to represent a new generation of researchers, artists, philosophers, authors and translators with a profound desire to achieve a genuine dialogue between Arab culture and other cultures. 

In an era of globalization and profound political and social changes facing the world, this Prize fully meets the values of mutual understanding that is cited in the Constitution of the Organization. By rewarding careers, lives, whose efforts have been to promote a culture to which they own so much, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab culture strives to foster a better understanding of other civilizations, thus promoting, or encouraging international exchange. Arab arts and culture have left traces all over the world, not only has the mosaic of cultures in the Arab region benefitted mutually but also cultures far beyond. One cannot find a better tread for cultivating peace.

 

Contact

  • Shama Chokkam-Sunderraj
    Focal Point
    UNESCO-Sharjah Prize
    History and Memory for Dialogue Section
    Social and Human Sciences Sector - UNESCO
    7 place de Fontenoy
    75352 Paris 07 SP FRANCE
    Tel.: + 33 1 45 68 42 71
    E-mail: s.chokkam-sunderraj(at)unesco.org / prix.sharjah(at)unesco.org
Categories: News

Turkmenistan hosts 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games

Unesco Most Programme - 7 hours 23 min ago
asia_games_turkmenistan2017.jpg © UNESCO

In an opening ceremony based on Turkmenistan’s ancient history and cultural heritage, the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games kicked off on 17 September in Ashagbat, Turkmenistan with historical scenes of the ancient Silk Road, camels, Turkmen horses, traditional music from the country’s five regions, and the Turkmen art of carpet making. These are also the first Asia Games to be hosted in Central Asia.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov officially opened the games, twice mentioning UNESCO in his welcoming remarks, focusing on his country’s willingness to participate actively in the Organization’s Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS) to promote the role and value of sport and its inclusion in public policy. He also emphasized that sports, health and physical education were important priorities for his government.

In addition to this being the first Asia Games hosted taking place in Central Asia, these games will feature other firsts, including the first time that the countries of Oceania are participating and also the first time that the refugees’ team competes in the Asian Games.

Ten refugee athletes made history by competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as members of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. One year later, five refugee athletes from South Sudan are making history, yet again, by competing in the Games in Ashgabat. Tegla Loroupe, a Kenyan Olympian who is also a United Nations Ambassador for Sport and Peace, leads the refugee athletes.

Many Heads of State, government officials, representatives of international organizations and other dignitaries attended the opening ceremony. Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office represented UNESCO.

Learn more about UNESCO’s work in sports and physical education.

Categories: News

World leaders commit to tackling global education crisis that is holding back millions of children and threatening progress and stability

Unesco Most Programme - 9 hours 20 min ago
21 September 2017

NEW YORK, 20 September 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; heads of state of France, Norway, Malawi and Senegal; and other global education leaders today committed to tackling the global ‘education crisis’ holding back millions of children and threatening progress, at a high-level event in New York City.

Around 264 million children and adolescents are not in school and only 1 in 12 young people in low-income countries is on track to gain secondary level skills. Despite some progress in achieving gender equality in the world’s poorest countries, far more girls than boys still do not have access to a quality education. 

"Investing in education is the most cost effective way to drive economic development, improve skills and opportunities for young women and men, and unlock progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Financing education is indeed the best investment we can make," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Financing the Future: Education 2030 – aimed at securing political commitment and investment in quality early-childhood, primary and secondary education – was co-hosted by Norway, France, Malawi and Senegal in partnership with the Education Commission, Global Partnership for Education, Malala Fund, ONE Campaign, UNICEF and UNESCO.

"I have decided to set education as a top priority of French development and foreign policy. Education deserves our collective ambition. With Senegal, the UN, GPE, and all our partners, we will increase the global commitments next year at the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar,” said Emmanuel Macron, President of France.

“Education, particularly for girls, is the single most effective investment in sustainable development. This is why Norway has doubled its financial support for education over the last four years,” said Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway. Having been re-elected to another term in office last week, she will continue her engagement for education. Solberg also emphasized the importance of national ownership, stating that “The most important work lies within each country.” Prime Minister Solberg also pointed out that a successful replenishment for the Global Partnership for Education and further work on establishing an International Finance Facility for Education will be important to filling the external financing gap in education.

"Delivering an education to all – and not just some children – is the civil rights struggle of our time. Confronted by the largest refugee crisis since the close of the Second World War, and with education receiving less than 2% of humanitarian aid, it is vital we marshal the funds to provide an education for all children – especially those left out and left behind: refugee children,” said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, former UK Prime Minister, Education Commission Chair.

“By funding Education Cannot Wait to address these emergencies; supporting the Global Partnership for Education to build strong education systems – and successfully securing its replenishment target so GPE is a $2 billion fund by 2020; and establishing the International Finance Facility for Education for longer-term financing so countries avoid the middle-income trap, we can close the funding gap. Funding our education goal will do far more than place a child at a desk. It will unleash opportunity and hope," continued Brown.

“Investing in education has a high return, and the benefits flow well beyond the individual. Improved education outcomes, particularly for girls and women, reduce poverty and boost economic prosperity, strengthen health and promote peace and security. We owe it to the children of the world to invest in education now. The upcoming GPE Financing Conference will be an opportunity for donors and developing countries alike to step up their commitments,” said Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia.

"130 million girls are out of school today. They are pushing back against poverty, war and child marriage to go to school. The Sustainable Development Goals were a promise that we would fight with these girls. So far, we have failed. We have big goals, but we will not reach any of them unless we educate girls. If we want to grow economies, improve the air we breathe, promote peace and advance public health, we must invest in girls," said Malala Yousafzai, Malala Fund co-founder and UN Messenger of Peace.

“If we don’t take action on education now, we risk threatening progress and stability, and further trapping children in cycles of poverty and depravation. We cannot risk giving up on our mission to get every child into school and learning. The world has too much to lose. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the next generation,” said Muzoon Almellehan UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

“Every development success story starts with education. This is why country ownership is at the crux of the 2030 Agenda and the strongest impetus for unlocking progress. From adequate financing to effective learning at all ages, countries hold the reins to making education equitable, inclusive and transformative,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

“Today must be the day that the world turns a corner and tackles the global education emergency. Over 130 million girls are out of school -- that’s over 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs and politicians whose leadership the world is missing out on. It’s a resource waste of epic proportions and a global crisis that perpetuates poverty. The latest data, from 2015, showed the number of girls missing out on school actually increased for the first time in over a decade,” said Gayle Smith President and CEO of the ONE Campaign.

“Senegal and France today set the ambition, now the world must exceed it.  For donors it starts with fully funding the Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait. For other governments it means committing to work towards delivering 20 percent of national budgets to education. For both it means radical new partnerships with civil society and the private sector to deliver significantly better results for the funds spent. This is not just about getting more girls into school, it’s about the women they grow up to be: educated, empowered and employed. ONE’s eight million members around the world will be hustling Governments every step of the way to make sure it happens -- over 130 million girls deserve nothing less than our best,” continued Smith.

At the high-level event, held during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the following commitments were made:

  • The European Union will increase its support for education in crises by dedicating 8 per cent of its humanitarian budget to education in emergencies in 2018, way above the global average of 3.6 per cent.
  • The European Union pledged a further US$13.2 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
  • Denmark committed US$16.1 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
  • In the next year, Malala Fund will increase its investment in local educators and activists by US$3 million.
  • The Global Partnership for Education is committed to raising more and better finance, and by 2020 to provide and leverage US$2 billion a year to support 870 million children in 89 countries.
  • Dubai Cares committed US$500,000 to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
  • Hewlett Packard will reach one million learners by 2020, working with Intel to seed 1,700 School Clouds; and through Education Cannot Wait explore the use of technology in crisis-affected countries.

 

Note to Editors:

The following took part in the event: António Guterres, UN Secretary-General; Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi; Macky Sall, President of Senegal; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and SDG Advocate; Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, former UK Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, Chair, Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia; Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania and Education Commissioner; Heads of State or Government, business leaders, foundations and civil society; Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO; Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Malala Yousafzai, co-founder of Malala Fund and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education; Muzoon Almellehan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; Priyanka Chopra, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador;  

 

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Francyne Harrigan, UN Department of Public Information, harriganf@un.org, +1 917 428-7505

Kensuke Matsueda, UN Department of Public Information, matsueda@un.org, +1 212 963-0564

Georgina Thompson, UNICEF New York, gthompson@unicef.org, +1 917 238 1559

Alexandra Humme, Global Partnership for Education ahumme@globalpartnership.org +1 202 492 8890

Ian Koski, ONE Campaign, ian.koski@ONE.org, +1 202 714 8423

Trude Måseide, Office of the Prime Minister - Norway Trude.Maseide@smk.dep.no, +47 957 265 10

Lily Gray, UNESCO, l.gray@unesco.org, +1 (202) 374-5443

Reid Lidow, The Education Commission, rlidow@educationcommission.org, +1 212 521

Categories: News

Education is our greatest ‘soft power’ for peace

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:24
dg-president-romania-infocus.jpg © UNESCO

On 20 September 2017, on the margins of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in a high-level side event on “Making Education for Peace”.

Organized by the President of Romania, H.E. Mr Klaus Werner Iohannis, moderated by Mr Igor Remus Pricopie, Rector of National ‎School of Political Studies, with participation from the Moldova Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, as well as former Afghan Education Minister Haneef Atmar and David Malone, Rector of UNU.

President Iohannis stated "education for peace is the key stone of our vision for the future of our countries." 

The President called for education for peace and civic education at the heart of conflict prevention and peacebuilding -- as a human right for every child.

Prime Minister Filip was clear: "security measures are not enough to prevent conflict and terrorism -- we need comprehensive measures starting with education, with support to children, to their rights and their full development, especially in situations of tension."

“Education is a basic human right that provides sustainability to all development – it is also our greatest ‘soft power’ force for peace, a force to prevent violent extremism and advance respect and tolerance,” declared the Director-General. “This is why education stands at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as a stand-alone goal that is essential for all goals.”

“Education today cannot only be about learning to read, write and count,” said the Director-General. “Every generation is faced with a unique challenge – our challenge today is to promote the values of inclusion and peace, to build new forms of solidarity based on human rights, global citizenship and tolerance.”

“This must begin on the benches of schools,” concluded Irina Bokova.

As former Minister Haneef Atmar said, "we need to teach peace to prevent terrorism from teaching our children."

Education for peace has become one of the main priorities for UNESCO and other UN bodies, starting with the concept of education for peace as a fundamental right. UNESCO is acting across the board, through teacher training, through education planning, media literacy and literacy for young people. This includes teaching the history of the Holocaust and other genocides to fight discrimination and anti-Semitism, UNESCO’s literacy programme in Afghanistan providing skills to 6 000 000 women and men, and capacity building to prevent violent extremism through education with countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa and the Sahel. In addition, education and skills for young women and men are the heart of UNESCO’s work with Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, in Mexico, South Sudan and Uganda.

"The pen is my sword, a girl inscribed on the Aysweha--Durrani Girls School in Kabul -- this is our message," said Irina Bokova.

Categories: News

Director-General meets Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 21:07

On 20 September 2017, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Mr Rashid Alimov.

The meeting was an opportunity to review the state of cooperation between the SCO and UNESCO, including on education, youth empowerment and promoting intercultural dialogue.

Mr Alimov spoke of the "tremendous richness" of the 128 world heritage sites on the territories of SCO countries -- "this is a resource for tolerance, for dialogue and mutual understanding." He briefed on the wide range of work led to promote educational mobility and new forms of intercutlrual dialogue.

The Director-General underlined UNESCO's leading actions to support cooperation in education and culture, including through the Silk Road initiatives, to support sustainable development, social cohesion and peace. She thanked for the work of the SCO and looked to further deepen cooperation.

Categories: News

Three winners to receive UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:58
esd-prize-2017-laureates-c-zikra_for_popular_learning.jpg © Zikra for Popular Learning 20 September 2017

Paris, 20 September — The three winners of this year’s UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development have been named. They are Zikra for Popular Learning from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; the Hard Rain Project from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and Sihlengeni Primary School from the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Zikra was selected for its “Zikra for Popular Learning Program”, which offers a creative and dynamic response to social, economic and environmental challenges in marginalized communities of the Arab region. Through ‘Exchange Tourism’, Zikra empowers people to reconnect with their local culture and traditions, and to inspire sustainable solutions while generating economic gains. Other activities comprise capacity building workshops and trainings in educational institutions.

The Hard Rain Project was selected for its international programme “Hard Rain” and its follow-up “Whole Earth?”, which bring art, science and education together to raise awareness on pressing global issues such as poverty and climate change, and to stimulate thinking and action towards more positive futures. It works with world-renowned artists, scientists and communicators to carry its message to schools and universities, and to a wider public, through exhibitions, books, films, talks and events.

Sihlengeni Primary School, located in a dry rural area of Zimbabwe, was selected for its remarkable “Permaculture” programme involving not only its 17 teachers and 738 students – mainly children of low-income subsistence farmers – but also the adjacent community. Through an inspiring, participatory whole-institution approach, Permaculture uses the principles of ESD to provide quality education as well as increased access to a clean environment, food and water.

This year’s winners were selected by an international jury from more than 100 nominations, submitted by the governments of UNESCO Member States and organizations in official relations with UNESCO.

Funded by the Government of Japan, the Prize was established by UNESCO’s Executive Board in the framework of the Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP), to showcase and reward outstanding ESD projects and programmes. This is the third edition of the Prize, which is endowed with USD 150,000 to be divided between the three winners.

UNESCO’s Director-General and the Japanese Minister of Education will award the Prize to the three laureates in a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 3 November 2017, during the 39th session of the UNESCO General Conference.

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For more information on the awards, contact Miriam Tereick: esdprize@unesco.org
For more information on the programme: https://en.unesco.org/prize-esd

Categories: News

Ljubljana OER Action Plan 2017 adopted to support quality open-licensed educational resources to build knowledge societies and achieve SDG 4

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:42
news_200917_oer.jpg CC BY SA 20 September 2017

The second World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress closed today as experts and national delegates from 111 countries adopted by acclamation the 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan.

The 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan presents 41 recommended actions to mainstream open-licensed resources to help all Member States to build Knowledge Societies and achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4 on “quality and lifelong education.”

The accompanying Ministerial Statement called for a “dynamic coalition to expand and consolidate commitments to actions, strategies and legislation” in OER, with a “call on all educational stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the Ljubljana OER Action Plan 2017.”

OER refer to any teaching, learning and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution with no or limited restrictions. While offering education systems a greater flexibility to use, share and adapt quality resources, OER rest within the framework of intellectual property rights and fully acknowledge authorship.

The 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan provides recommendations to stakeholders in five strategic areas, namely: building the capacity of users to find, re-use, create and share OER; language and cultural issues; ensuring inclusive and equitable access to quality OER; developing sustainability models; and developing supportive policy environments.

“This has been the most widespread consultation undertaken at UNESCO that I have witnessed,” noted Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, as he introduced the 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan for formal adoption by acclamation.

He noted that the Ljubljana Action Plan is the product of an extensive regional, global and online stakeholder consultation that had incorporated major inputs from:

  • Recommendations compiled at six OER regional consultations2 attended by OER experts and policy makers from more than 100 countries, organized from December 2016 to May 2017 by the Commonwealth of Learning in cooperation with UNESCO, through the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  
  • An open, online consultation on the draft Action Plan held from July to September 2017 incorporating more than 100 additional inputs and feedback from UNESCO Member States and the global OER community.
  • Key recommendations from the sessions and debates of the 2nd World OER Congress, 18-20 September, compiled through a high-level drafting group chaired by the president of the Congress, governmental representatives of each region, non-governmental and civil society stakeholder groups including teacher and student representatives, as well as the UNESCO secretariat and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia.

The Action Plan invites multi-stakeholder commitments at local, national and international levels around the five strategic areas.  Invited to the OER Congress and addressed within the Action Plan are: educators, teacher trainers, librarians, learners, parents, educational policy makers at both the governmental and institutional level, teacher and other professional associations, student associations, teacher and student unions  as well as other members of civil society, and intergovernmental organizations and funding bodies.

In his closing remarks, UNESCO Assistant Director for Education Qian Tang urged that UNESCO be seen as “your partner in a joint effort to use OER to push the SDG agenda in the next 15 years, and in the end to provide education for a new generation who will grow up as global citizens, appreciate other cultures and can build a more peaceful world.”

The Assistant Director-General added that: “to meet the education challenges, we can’t use the traditional way. In remote and developing areas, particularly for girls and women, OER are a crucial, crucial mean to reach SDGs. OER are the key.”

“What I am proud of is the comprehensive OER Action Plan. We truly believe in the Action Plan and plan to not only support it but be true actors in implementing,” said Dr Maja Makovec Brenčič, Minister of Education, Sciences and Sport of Slovenia, in her closing remarks to the Congress. “This Action Plan can be a great background for a UNESCO Recommendation on OER which is our final goal.”

Categories: News

Food Systems for Improved Nutrition: Why and How

Europaid - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 13:34
Categories: News

Director-General condemns killing of journalist Abdullahi Osman Moallim in Somalia

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:05
20 September 2017

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today denounced the killing of Abdullahi Osman Moallim, a Somali broadcast journalist who died on 13 September from injuries sustained during a suicide bombing in Beledeweyne three days earlier.

Two other Somali journalists, Abdi Shakur Mohamed Hassan and Abdulkadir Omar Ibrahim, were also injured when the attacker detonated an explosive vest outside a restaurant in the Hiiraan region. Mr. Moallim worked for the Somalian broadcaster Jubbaland TV. At least six people were killed and ten injured during the attack.

“I condemn the killing of Abdullahi Osman Moallim,” said Director-General Bokova. “Journalists the world over are being attacked based on their mission to keep the public informed. I call on the responsible authorities to investigate this attack and extend my condolences to the victims and their families.”

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, s.coudray@unesco.org, +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…”

Categories: News

A Caribbean strategy to cope with climate change

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:32
focus_shutterstock_712532530_hurricane_irma_dpl.jpg © Drew McArthur / Shutterstock.com

The Caribbean has been buffeted by an exceptional number of intense storms and hurricanes this year. In the space of just a few days, Hurricane Irma has been followed by Hurricanes José and Maria, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Hurricane Irma formed near Cabo Verde towards the end of August and, according to the US National Hurricane Center, was the strongest hurricane on record to form in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Caribbean is the most tourist-intensive region in the world, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. This makes Caribbean economies particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of Mother Nature. Most Caricom countries(1) have at least a 10% chance of being struck by a hurricane each year, according to a 2013 study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is cited by the UNESCO Science Report. The probability is even as high as 24% in Jamaica and 20% in the Bahamas. Even moderate storms can reduce growth by about 0.5% of GDP. For example, winds that were well beneath hurricane strength took a toll on the small economies of St Lucia, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines in December 2013.

The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that the Caribbean will become the most at-risk tourist destination in the world between 2025 and 2050.In 2015, the UNESCO Science Report observed that ‘the region would be hard-pressed to deal with a major meteorological disaster,’ and urged it to ‘take climate change adaption more seriously.’

Caricom has mandated the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre to mainstream climate change adaptation strategies into the sustainable development agendas of Caricom states and to help them switch to renewable and cleaner energy sources and reduce their vulnerability to the impact of a changing climate.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centrehas produced an implementation plan for 2011–2021 and undertaken a number of assessments. This work has been supported by the region’s specialists, who have produced models for climate change and mitigation processes in Caribbean states and who play a major advisory role to the divisions in ministries responsible for climate change, such as Jamaica’s appropriately expanded Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change.

High energy costs contributing to vulnerability

A vulnerability to hurricanes and overdependence on tourism are not the only challenges Caricom countries face. According to the UNESCO Science Report, high energy costs are also having anegative impact on the economic competitiveness of Caricom countries and the cost of living. In 2008,over US$ 14 billion was spent on importing fossil fuels, which provide over 90% of energy consumed in Caricom countries, according to estimates.

In 2013, Caricom approved its Energy Policy and the accompanying Caricom Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS). Under this policy, renewableenergy sources are to contribute 20% to the total electricitygeneration mix in member states by 2017, 28% by 2022 and47% by 2027. A similar policy instrument is being developed for the transportation sector.

In July 2013, stakeholders participated in a resource mobilization forum for the first phase of C-SERMS. The forum was hosted by the Caricom Secretariat, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the GermanAgency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Considerable potential for renewable energy

The IADB has since provided the University of the West Indies (UWI) with agrant of over US$ 600,000 to develop capacity in sustainable energy technologies across the region. One area of interest is the utilization of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in managing energy and trainingin sustainable energy technologies, with an emphasis on enhancing the involvement of women. The participation ofenergy giants such as General Electric, Philips and the Scottish Development Corporation augurs well for technology transfer.

The region has considerable potential for hydro-electric, geothermal, wind and solar energy which, once significantly exploited (as opposed to sporadically, at present), could make a huge difference to the energy resilience of Caricom countries. Some of these resources are being exploited to a limited extent.

The machinery needed to generate fossil-fuel-based electricity is also obsolete, inefficient and expensive to run. Jamaica has approved construction of new gas-fired electricity generation plants, to deal with this problem.

The efforts of Caricom countries to adopt sustainable energy technologies are contributing to implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. First adopted in Barbados in1994, this programme was updated in Mauritius in 2005 then again in Samoa in 2014.

A Plan to nurture innovation and creativity

Like the small island developing states of the Pacific, the countries of the Caribbean are embracing ‘regionalism’ to reduce their vulnerability to economic and environmental shocks. As Ralph Consalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, put it at Caricom’s 40th anniversary in 2013, ‘it is evident to all responsible persons of discernment that our region would find it more difficult by far to address its immense current and prospective challenges, unless its governments and peoples embrace strongly a more mature, more profound regionalism’.

One of the central aims of the first Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community, which covers the period 2015–2019,is to reinforce socio-economic, technological and environmental resilience of Caricom states. The overarching objective is twofold: to stimulate theproductive capability of domestic firms and correct the currentmismatch between training and the specialized knowledge and skills required by the market, in order to drive growth andcombat rising levels of unemployment among the young, inparticular. The plan outlines strategies for nurturing innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship, digital literacy and inclusivenessand for making optimum use of available resources.

With the exception of Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, which have significant hydrocarbon or mineral reserves, most states are small with too limited natural resources to support rapid economic development.

They will thus need to look elsewhere for wealth creation. The Strategic Plan focuses on the following areas: creative, manufacturing and service industries, with an initial focus on tourism; natural resources and value-added products; agriculture, fisheries and export development, to reduce dependence on food imports and foster sustainable fisheries; resource mobilization; ICTs; air and maritime transport infrastructure and services; and, last but not least, energy efficiency, diversification and cost reduction.

The two key enablers identified by the Strategic Plan for improving the Caribbean’s resilience are a common foreign policy, in order to mobilize resources effectively, and research and innovation.

Caricom governments currently commit little of their resources to science. The sluggish economic growth observed in the Caribbean in recent years offers some explanation but even the more affluent Trinidad and Tobago spent just 0.05% of GDP on research in 2012. When annual economic growth hit 8% in 2004,Trinidad and Tobago still devoted just 0.11%of GDP to R&D. Thus, pooreconomic performance alone cannot explain the extremely low commitment to science of Caricom governments.

The Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community: 2015–2019 proposes using advocacy to mobilize funding for business research from state and private sources, creating an enabling legislative environment for research and innovation, identifying opportunities for cooperation and devising national school-based programmes that drive, enable and reward research and innovation.

Importantly, the collective aspirations captured in the Strategic Plan to 2019 are similar to those of major national plans. For example, Trinidad and Tobago’s Vision 2020 (2002), Jamaica’s Vision 2030 (2009) and the Strategic Plan of Barbados for 2005–2025 all share a common aspiration to achieve socio-economic development, security, resilience to environmental shocks and an engagement in science, technology and innovation to improve the standard of living. Like the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community, these national plans accord central importance to science, technology and innovation in realizing these aspirations.

Caricom countries(1): Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

Source: Ramkissoon, H. and Kahwa, I. (2015) The Caricom countries. In: UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030

Categories: News

Youth volunteering and dialogue: a response to current challenges

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:30
shutterstock_volunteers_mangostock.jpg © Shutterstock.com / mangostock 20 September 2017
Categories: News

Director-General meets newly appointed Under-Secretary-General of the UN Counter-Terrorism Office

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:16
dg-vladimir-voronkov.jpg © UNESCO

On 19 September 2017, on the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the recently appointed Under-Secretary-General of the new United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office (UNOCT), Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov.

Irina Bokova welcomed the creation of the new Office and pledged UNESCO’s fullest support to its work -- starting with its co-chairmanship of the CTITF Working Group on Preventing Violent Extremism, where UNESCO action is leading across the UN system.

Vladimir Voronkov thanked the Director-G‎eneral for UNESCO's leadership, underlining the vital importance of preventing violent extremism through education and culture "to work through hearts and minds." "This is why UNESCO is so very significant," he said.

The Director-General noted that UNESCO is leading in promoting global citizenship education, through guidelines for teachers and policy planners, as well as through capacity building in countries across the world. This work builds on close partnerships, including with the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding.

She underlined also that UNESCO works through initiatives to foster youth empowerment through information and communication technologies, along with critical thinking, tolerance and respect for universal values.

“Empowering young women and men stands at the heart of all UNESCO’s work,” she noted. Young people are the most affected by multiple and often interlinked forms of violence -- they also play vital roles as agents of positive change, to be empowered through skills development, training and new forms of engagement.

Irina Bokova also noted that in its action to prevent violent extremism, safeguarding cultural heritage and promoting cultural diversity as strengths for all to share, has pride of place. This takes in all UNESCO’s work to spearhead  implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2347 on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2199, which includes legally-binding measures to counter the illicit trafficking of artefacts from Iraq and Syria -- working with UNODC, WCO as well as the art world, to support Governments.

This includes also building positive counter-narratives to violent extremism. The #Unite4Heritage campaign is a global movement powered by UNESCO, starting through social media, to craft counter narratives rooted in heritage values, human rights and the respect for cultural diversity.

“In all this,” she underlined, “UNESCO works to take forward the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, launched in January 2016.”

The UNOCT was created to enhance coordination among United Nations entities and the work of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system and to strengthen the capability of the UN system to respond to current needs and demands of Member States.

Vladimir Voronkov and Irina Bokova agreed on the need for further and deeper cooperation, including through joint projects.

 

Categories: News

Better Education for Africa’s Rise starts validation workshops in five countries

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 09:20
bear-validation-workshops-five-countries-c-unesco-unevoc-eyitayo_oyelowo.jpg ©UNESCO-UNEVOC/Eyitayo Oyelowo 20 September 2017

This month, UNESCO and the five beneficiary countries of the Better Education for Africa’s Rise project (BEAR II) - Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda - will organize two-day validation workshops to conclude the planning phase at country level.

The project is the second phase of a five-year joint initiative between UNESCO and the Republic of Korea, which aims to strengthen national Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems in selected African countries to strengthen the opportunities for decent employment and entrepreneurship for young people.

The beneficiary countries for this second phase of the BEAR project are Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. During the workshops, UNESCO will share findings from recent scoping missions to the national stakeholders, and propose interventions in the framework of UNESCO’s Strategy for TVET (2016-2021), outlining overall goals and the scope of the project.

The validation workshops will propose and discuss specific interventions for TVET in the chosen prioritized sectors and will provide a platform for building synergies between stakeholders to ensure an inclusive consultation process and national ownership. The participants will be concerned ministries, TVET authorities, TVET institutions, Vocational Training centres, and enterprises.

Three main areas of intervention will be discussed in working groups, concerning Relevance, Quality and Attractiveness of TVET. The validation workshops will also identify potential synergies that the BEAR II Project could help create in order to complement existing interventions.

About the BEAR II project

The first phase of the BEAR project collaborated with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Namibia.

In alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal on Education and the Education 2030 Framework for Action, the BEAR II project promotes the relevance of TVET systems in Eastern Africa to give young people a better chance to access decent employment and generate self-employment.

The BEAR II interventions will focus on specific sectors that are carefully chosen in each of the beneficiary countries for their potential to create jobs.  The project supports efforts in updating curricula, training teaching staff and engaging employers and enterprises to help create more relevant TVET Systems.

The BEAR project contributes to the global efforts for implementing the Education 2030 Agenda, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (2016 – 2025), and the UNESCO Strategy for TVET (2016 – 2021).

Categories: News

We need deeper commitment to water cooperation

Unesco Most Programme - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 23:58
dg-water-decade-ny.jpg © UNESCO

On 19 September, within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Director-General Irina Bokova addressed the high-level event “Towards Implementation of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ 2018-2028”.

Organized by the Permanent Missions of Canada, Ecuador, Japan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Tajikistan, as well as UNDESA, UNDP, UNESCO-WAPP and UN-Water, the event took place in the presence of the President of Tajikistan H.E. Mr Emomali Rahmon, champion of the International Decade, aiming to build support and momentum for the implementation of water related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

President Rahmon called for "continued cooperation and mobilisation of all resources for holistic measures" to drive forward the SDGs, including transborder cooperation and women's Empowerment. "This is the importance of this International Decade."

The President of the General Assembly. H.E. Mr Lajcak said "water is essential for a sustainable life on a sustainable planet and for decent lives."

“Water is the common denominator of many global challenges, in health, food, energy,” said the Director-General. “It can be the common solution also, but this requires deeper commitment. This is why water stands at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.”

"Water is vital for sustainable development but also for peace," said Minister Safadi of Jordan. "Water could be the cause of war, but could also be the cause of peace… the peace that we all deserve.‎"

‎The Honorable Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu spoke of water "as a security issue for many peoples around the world. We have to adapt as challenges of climate change and sea levels continue to rise"‎.

The Director-General highlighted that water cooperation is about fighting poverty, saving children from disease, allowing girls to go to school instead of walking for kilometres to fetch water. She underscored UNESCO’s work through its ‘water family’, which includes a global network of 36 water-related centres and 46 water-related Chairs, including the IHE-Institute for Water Education.

‎Minister Hussen of Canada spoke of his government's new feminist aid policy, to craft new solutions, because "water is undervalued and under threat."

“Fundamentally, water is about peace, between States and across regions. There is enough freshwater in the world – our goals are to share it sustainably, to link science more tightly with policy, and this is our message throughout the International Decade,” concluded Irina Bokova.

Categories: News

Giving young people a voice to shape their territories

Unesco Most Programme - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 19:07
focus_mab_youth_forum4.jpg Photo by Christian Leone 19 September 2017

Over 300 young people from 95 countries are gathered in the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve (Italy) to take leadership in the sustainable development of their environments. They either live or work in a biosphere reserve, areas that are committed to developing solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are participating in the 2017 MAB Youth Forum, which aims to give them a voice in shaping the future of their territories and defining their engagement in their biosphere reserves.  

The forum began on Monday with a discussion on biosphere reserves’ contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a workshop on telling the story of territories through illustration and testimonies. “We are here all throughout the week, to listen to your ideas and your visions of how to work together, to take forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, to build a better future for all” said UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, in her message to the young participants. “My only appeal to you is to be bold. The challenges we face are big -- we need to think big to overcome them, and we need to do this together, because I see partnership, truly, as the new leadership.

Creating job opportunities for young people in order to bring innovation to biosphere reserves and retain youth is important to the participants, who shared their priorities and needs ahead of the forum to shape the programme. In her welcome remarks, the Undersecretary of the Italian ministry of the Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, Barbara Degani, highlighted the potential of sustainable tourism to create jobs. This sector has grown by 76% last year in Italy, where 15 biosphere reserves have been established. “There is a need to diversify and create new services”, she continued. “In this process young people can make a difference, for example through digital tools and social media. We have great expectations for the forum’s outcomes about this topic. We know that it is a challenge, but it should be faced without fear.”

Other priorities include youth engagement in civil society, and the links between research and management practices. Together, they will exchange ideas and experiences on how communities an sustainably interact with their land and nature, creating jobs and livelihoods without endangering the environment and natural resources, taking advantage of green economy opportunities, strengthening resilience to climate change, and sharing responsibilities and benefits among all people involved.

You have heard the call to action launched by the Sustainable Development Goals and are here, as youth representatives or concerned citizens from all over the planet, ready to discuss in concrete terms what your engagement with UNESCO, the MAB programme and the Biosphere Reserves could and should be in the future,” observed UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for the Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel. “You are part of a large family. Biosphere reserves are home to about 240 million people, in 120 countries, and cover a surface roughly equivalent to that of China. It is a large and diverse network, one of hope, resilience and reconciliation.”

The youth representatives were warmly welcomed by the local community of the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve and representatives of the Veneto and Emilia Romagna regional governments. More than 25 young volunteers from the Po Delta and other parts of Italy are helping the organizers in making the forum possible. The forum is organized by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere programme (MAB), UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe based in Venice and the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve, under the auspices of the Italian Ministries of the Environment and Protection of Land and Sea; of Foreign Affairs; of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism; and of Education, Universities and Research. It counts with the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna Regional Governments and the PiùInForma association.

The forum is organized as part of UNESCO’s efforts to ensure that young women and men are engaged in policies and programmes affecting them, and lead action to promote peace and sustainable development in their countries and communities. It is the first MAB Youth Forum. A delegation will come to Paris in October 2017 to present the main outcomes of this meeting to the participants of the UNESCO Youth Forum.

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