“With its over 200 Ministers, some of whom are government leaders, from all round the world and some 4,000 delegates, observers and press who regularly attend the Conference, it is a real world summit that is under-utilized and insufficiently publicized,” said the President of the General Conference, Ambassador George Anastassopoulos of Greece.
“UNESCO' biennial, three-week, Conference is a major forum for global governance on critical issues such as the impact of the financial crisis on education, the role of sciences in development, cultural diversity, intellectual cooperation and bioethics. In our current context, we must do everything we can to render this forum as effective as possible,” said Mr Anastassopoulos.
The reforms were proposed by the Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, after months of work by the current President of the General Conference, Ambassador Anastassopoulos, with a core group of some forty Ambassadors.
Hailing the Board’ decisions, Mr Anastassopoulos said that “although it was partly of our own doing, many of us had grown tired of the routine way in which the Conference proceedings were run. As the global crisis continues to unfold and remedial measures are put into place at the national and international levels to reform public and private institutions, the onus is on us, States, to be more consistent and coherent about our reform efforts. The time has come for us to change the way we conduct business. Our leaders need to be given the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, with all nations, on UNESCO's future policies.”
The President of the General Conference further added: “As a journalist by trade, I saw the untapped media potential of so many Ministers being in Paris at one time. It's time the general public knew more about what UNESCO brings to the world.”
In addition to the standard procedures, the Organization is going to stage at its next session to be held in Paris from 6 to 23 October, three half-day Ministerial debates that will tackle major issues such as the need to find alternative strategies to invest out of the crisis and accelerate the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, particularly the Education for All target set for 2015. Delegates will also discuss UNESCO's future in a changing multilateral environment. The purpose of the change is to make sure UNESCO’s policies and future programmes fully reflect current priorities.
High profile personalities are expected to be brought in as moderators.
A Partners Village will also be established alongside the Conference in an area adjacent to the Conference buildings.