Asia-Pacific National Commissions discuss UNESCO’s future programmatic orientations

New Delhi: The Consultation of the National Commissions (NatComs) for UNESCO in Asia and the Pacific including countries covered by the UNESCO Cluster Offices in Almaty, New Delhi and Teheran, took place on Monday 22 June 2020, under the Chairpersonship of Dr Punchinilame Meegaswatte, Secretary-General, Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO.

At a time, when socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have just begun to be realized by the world, there is a need for increased cooperation in the Region for social development to recover from the unprecedent circumstances.

The on-line event included the participation of representatives from 14 countries in the Central and South Asia region, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The session began with remarks by Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director, on behalf of the conveners, followed by a special address by Mr Firmin E. Matoko, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Africa and External Relations. A presentation by Mr Mohammed Djelid, UNESCO Deputy-Director of the Bureau of Strategic Planning, introduced the process and status of preparation of these key strategic documents.

The consultation recognized UNESCO can and should be a leader for innovation, a catalyst for strengthened international cooperation, enhanced partnerships for greater impact, as well as a lead for the design of robust frameworks to adequately address complex issues in line with national and regional priorities.

While promoting Education as a prerequisite for stability and development and peace, the Consultation realized that UNESCO’s role should focus on building peace and social transformation through fostering inclusive and resilient societies, capacity building, as well as the development of norms and standards to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, working across sciences, education, culture and communication and information sectors.

Further, the National Commissions for UNESCO should be considered key actors at the forefront of social transformation in their countries. In this regard, the cooperation and reinforcement between NatComs, UNESCO country, cluster and regional offices should be strengthened, enhanced and synergized. UNESCO has the unique advantage of being the only organization within the UN system with such a vast network of National Commissions and this strength should be effectively harnessed.

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