UNESCO Southern Africa family in times of COVID-19: ROSA hosts Regional Tripartite Consultations

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA), Permeant Delegates to UNESCO and National Commissions for UNESCO from Southern Africa met virtually on 27 January 2021 to review past achievements and plan for the future in a Tripartite Consultation webinar.

Held under the theme, “UNESCO Southern Africa Family in times of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities”, the meeting reviewed progress of work in the year 2020 and discussed strategies and plans for collaboration in 2021 (and beyond) in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Delegates, Botswana’s Ambassador, H.E. Mustaq Moorad, emphasised the importance of collective actions for the region to address challenges posed by COVID-19. He said COVID-19 has exposed glaring inequalities in our countries and the world at large. Inequalities between nations have been exposed through issues such as vaccine nationalisation while in most of the southern African countries there is huge digital inequalities especially between the rural and the urban populations.

The Ambassador called for digital transformation to address some the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the glaring inequalities.

Namibia National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General, Mr. Rod April said dialogue and constant communication between National Commissions, UNESCO and Permanent Delegations is important in ensuring the effective articulation of national agendas and representation of Member States in UNESCO organs.

He added that southern Africa is confronted by an invisible storm (COVID-19) as well as the real storms with areas flooded; people displaced, injured and lives lost. Mr. April said there is need to communicate; plan together, collaborate and travel together to address these challenges.

Mr. April added that NATCOMs were committed to work collectively to adequately deliver on the mandate of UNESCO at national and sub-regional levels; to maximise programme delivery in line with the ROSA Regional Support Strategy; to collaborate with UNESCO on its Strategic Transformation; to ensure visibility and create partnerships.

Speaking at the same occasion, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Priority Africa and External Relations (PAX), Mr. Edouard Firmin Matoko reiterated UNESCO’s commitment to the development of Africa adding that the continent remains a global priority for the Organisation.

He urged all stakeholders to align their interventions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and more importantly to the African Union Agenda 2063.
UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen said the tripartite meeting (NATCOM, PDs and ROSA) was a unique format and expected to deepen consultations among the three partners. He urged the UNESCO family to maximise opportunities availed by COVID-19 while at the same time hoping that the pandemic will come to an end this year.

ROSA and NATCOMs shared some good practices and 2020 experiences in the context of COID-19. It was evident that despite the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, UNESCO’s work in the region continued with partnerships particularly with SADC firming.

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