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186th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board

The 186th session of the Executive Board was held at a time when UNESCO is engaged in important reforms aimed at ensuring better response to the needs of its Member States. 

Kenya continues to be an active member of the Executive Board of UNESCO and cooperates with other UNESCO Member States in ensuring that UNESCO effectively adapts to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.

Participants from Kenya

  • Prof. Jude Mathooko, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Extension Division, Egerton University, representative of Kenya at the Executive Board
  • KUO Staff

Main achievement for Kenya

The Executive Board approved the proposal by the Government of Kenya to establish on its territory a regional groundwater education, training and research centre for East Africa as a Category II Institute under the auspices of UNESCO. The Executive Board further recommends that the General Conference, at its 36th session in October 2011, approve the centre and that it authorize the Director-General to sign the corresponding agreement. The centre will assist the countries in the region to better understand how groundwater interacts with the global water cycle, how it supports ecosystems and humankind in order to best prepare responses to pressures of human activity and climatic changes.

On behalf of the Africa Group, Kenya underscored the importance of youth and thus the need to implement the UNESCO Strategy on African Youth.

Main Outcomes

Kenya actively participated in discussions on various thematic areas including those listed below: 

a)                 Programme and Budget

The Executive Board reaffirmed UNESCO’s Global Priorities: Africa and Gender Equality.

It also requested the Director-General of UNESCO to present to the Executive Board at its 187th session an alternative budget option based on the $653 million budget ceiling to enable comparison with the $685.7 million proposed version of the draft budget.

b)                 UNESCO reforms

The 186th session of the Executive Board placed great emphasis on the need for a greater focus of UNESCO’s programme, based upon its constitutional mandate, within the scope of its overarching/strategic programme objectives and bearing in mind its five recognized functions.

The Executive Board underscored the need to strengthen UNESCO’s focus with a view to allocating a critical mass of its budgetary resources to activities permitting the attainment of relevant expected results and clear impact.

The Executive Board:

  • recommend to the General Conference, at its 36th session, the adoption of a 4-year programming cycle and an appropriate revision mechanism, with a view to increasing stability and coherence and enhancing collaboration of UNESCO with its Member States in implementing the programme and mobilizing extra-budgetary resources, while maintaining a two-year budgetary programme;
  • decided to suspend the work of the Group of Experts on Finance and Administrative Issues from the 188th session, for an experimental period of 2 years and in turn establish on an experimental basis, an Ad Hoc Group with enhanced participation by all UNESCO Member States to support the preparation of the two Plenary Commissions of the Executive Board session.

c)                 Reform of the UNESCO field network

The Executive Board endorsed the phased implementation of the field network reform, beginning with phase 1 which will deal with Africa and the Arab States regions. In the proposed reform, UNESCO will set up five multi-sectoral regional offices in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In this regard the Director General was requested to ensure:

  • policy coherence between country level, sub-regional, regional and global priority-setting, planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting activities while maintaining a coherent results-based approach;
  • the provision of the necessary professional skills and competencies (both managerial and programmatic) required to meet the high quality standards necessary for the successful implementation of the strengthened field presence.

d)                 Human resources

The Executive Board:

  • requested the Director-General to ensure that appropriate internal control procedures are in place and that all managers involved in recruitment have an adequate knowledge of the principles and regulations governing recruitment at UNESCO and respect them and to effectively implement strengthened accountability measures for managers involved in staff recruitment and consultant contracts;
  • recalled the need to ensure wider geographical distribution and a better gender balance in the hiring of consultants where qualifications are equal

e)                 UNESCO Programmes

The Executive Board:

  • requested the Director-General to ensure that the Organization’s interventions in favour of EFA target upstream policy advice and capacity-building while encouraging all stakeholders, partners and Member States to scale up their efforts at regional and country levels;
  • Underscored the fact that an urgent new thrust and renewed collective commitment to literacy by all is needed if the objectives of the Decade, the EFA goals and the Millennium Development Goals are to be met;
  • reaffirmed the importance of achieving the internationally agreed World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals by 2015 and requested the Director General to initiate consultations with the United Nations agencies and other major stakeholders concerned, including Member States, for the preparation of the WSIS overall review in 2015;
  • requested the Director-General to ensure linkages between activities in environmental ethics, including through the work of COMEST, and social and human science dimensions of climate change, including through the MOST Programme, with a view to contribute to understanding of adaptation challenges and development of adaptation capacities through supportive national policies;
  • welcomed the reorientation of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme which will focus on social inclusion and social transformation arising from global environmental change;
  • decided to revitalize the Fund and to reactivate the activities of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC);
  • requested the Director-General to submit a status report to it at its 187th session, including an in-depth analysis of the activities carried out and proposals for improving cooperation between UNESCO and the Global Geoparks Network and proposals for improving cooperation and exchange of information with Member States;
  • examined the preparations made towards the 36th session of the UNESCO General conference scheduled for 25 October to 10 November 2011.

Next session of the Executive Board

The 187th session will be held from 21 September to 6 October 2011.