The global network of 199 National Commissions for UNESCO gathered in Paris in October 2017 to discuss key decisions affecting the future of the network in an event chaired by the United Kingdom.
Chaired by the Secretary-General of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, James Bridge, and attended by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the meeting focussed on the effective implementation of SDGs, strengthening the role of National Commissions, and promoting efficient interaction between National Commissions and UNESCO Field offices. James Bridge called for better exchange of best practice between the National Commissions of different parts of the world and asked how this could be achieved.
James Bridge, UK Secretary-General of UNESCO, said:
“National Commissions are at the heart of UNESCO. It’s essential that they work and share information together in areas of mutual interest, in partnership with their Member States, for UNESCO to achieve its constitutional aims”.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said:
“I have always believed in the National Commissions as one of the greatest strengths of UNESCO, as flagships in countries, bearing the values and objectives we share, as essential links to the diversity of societies, as vital leaders in making real the promises of UNESCO”.
Commissions from around the world agreed with the need for more engagement between members of UNESCO’s six world regions. Sébastien Goupil and Marjutka Hafner, respectively Secretary-Generals of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO, proposed and thanks to the interest shown, began work on building a cooperation network between National Commissions.
UNESCO is the only UN Agency to have a global network of national cooperating bodies known as National Commissions for UNESCO. Set up by their respective governments in accordance with Article VII of the UNESCO Constitution, National Commissions work to connect national governmental and non-governmental bodies in education, sciences, culture and communication with the work of the Organisation.
The meeting ended with a closing speech from the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. Bokova reaffirmed the importance of UNESCO National Commissions in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, and their importance in strengthening more interactions and partnerships between UNESCO and in-country organisations.