Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK 2014–2015

Article date: 12 Feb 2016, Author: UK National Commission for UNESCO, Professor Kiran Fernandes, Sophie Leedham, et al.

UNESCO is the UN agency responsible for protecting cultural heritage, coordinating the tsunami warning system, setting and monitoring the global Education for All Goals, leading the UN’s Scientific Advisory Board and monitoring press freedom to name but a few of its global functions. But what is its impact and influence in the UK?

Based on a study conducted by the UK National Commission for UNESCO of the UK’s UNESCO network, there are three core benefits of UNESCO membership:

  • Financial value: UNESCO helped UK affiliated institutions and bodies to attract at least £100 million in additional income in one year.
  • Wider, non-financial value: UNESCO designation is a recognised mark of world-class quality, and a mechanism to enhance quality. By leveraging the UNESCO brand and collaborating with the global network, the UK’s UNESCO projects can access new programme, partnership and funding opportunities and influence key decision makers.
  • Support for UK government policy: UNESCO activity in the UK complements a broad portfolio of UK-government and devolved administration policies.

The research also suggests that there is significant untapped potential for UNESCO in the UK. UNESCO designation in the UK is used in different ways, to varying levels of success. Some UNESCO-affiliated organisations see their designation as a simple ‘badge’ that recognises quality. Others see it as a mechanism to enhance quality by working collaboratively with the dynamic, global UNESCO network to develop new programme, partnership and funding opportunities.

The UKNC plans to draw upon this research to develop a programme of targeted support for current and prospective UNESCO projects in the UK to help them achieve the full potential of their involvement with UNESCO.

The Wider Value research uses an innovative business-based Wider Value Scorecard methodology developed by UKNC Non-Executive Director, Professor Kiran Fernandes. Respondents were asked to assess the added financial and non-financial value of their UNESCO involvement. The methodology was peer-reviewed and presented at an academic conference. A number of other UNESCO Member States have expressed an interest in developing the methodology for their own use and the UKNC is working with colleagues internationally to explore how the methodology could be applied worldwide.