Amid funding challenges, UNESCO Board endorses plan for year ahead

Plenary meeting during the 186th session of UNESCO's Executive Board in May 2011. Photo: UNESCO/A. Freindorf

9 March 2012 – The Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today endorsed a new roadmap that will allow the organization to carry out its programme for the next year despite severe funding constraints.

The strategy, presented to the Board’s 58 members by UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, reduces the costs of programmes and strengthens the mobilization of resources outside of the budget.

“The roadmap now provides the organization with a clear sense of direction, and it sets firm targets to meet as we move forward,” said Ms. Bokova at the Board’s closing session today. “I am determined to meet the targets we have set in all areas – including cost efficiency, restructuring and human resource management.”

UNESCO was forced to introduce financial reforms after the United States announced it was suspending its financial contribution last October, decreasing the organization’s budget from $653 to $465 million.

The new roadmap focuses on UNESCO’s priorities, particularly Africa and gender equality, as well as programmes for youth, small island developing States, and countries in post-conflict and post-disaster situations.

During the session, the Board also voiced extreme concern over “the continuous deterioration of the situation in Syria with the violent repression affecting civilians, including children, students and journalists,” and called on UNESCO to take all possible measures “to resume its essential role, particularly in education, freedom of expression, communication and protection of heritage” in the country when the situation on the ground allows it.

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