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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General opens 24th session of the IOC General Assembly

Director-General opens 24th session of the IOC General Assembly
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 19 June 2007, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the 24th session of the General Assembly of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

At this session of the General Assembly, the important questions that will be examined include the Commission’s new Medium Term Strategy for the period 2008 to 2013, its biennial Programme and Budget for the period 2008 to 2009, the progress made in the establishment of the global tsunami warning system and the future of the Commission within UNESCO on the eve of its 50th anniversary, to take place in 2010.

In his opening address, the Director-General began by thanking all the nations that have contributed to the development of the global tsunami warning system, and in particular to that of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS), through the provision of financial and human resources in support of UNESCO/IOC’s coordinating role. While acknowledging the establishment of national tsunami centres under the authority of each of the national governments who constitute the Intergovernmental Coordinating Group for the IOTWS, he nevertheless underlined the importance of accompanying this progress with national preparedness. “Without effective national infrastructure, tsunami warnings will not reach people at risk along coastlines. And without practice response exercises, when warnings do reach coastlines, communities and local authorities at the receiving end are unlikely to know the best actions to take”, he said.

The Director-General went on to make reference to the report that had been prepared by the Committee he had established to carry out an overall review of UNESCO’s Major Programmes II (Natural Sciences) and III (Social and Human Sciences) as called for by the General Conference at its 33rd session, as well as to his response to the recommendations made in that report. After thanking the Chairman of the IOC for his input to the work of the Review Committee, Mr Matsuura expressed satisfaction that the Commission is already planning to incorporate some of the Committee’s key recommendations in its new Medium Term Strategy and biennial programme and budget. In particular, he welcomed the links proposed with other UNESCO programmes such as biodiversity preservation, groundwater management and science policy development. “As the Review Committee recommends”, he said, “UNESCO needs to better integrate its work in the sciences, and strengthen interdisciplinary and intersectoral activities”.

With regard to the Commission’s agenda item on the future role of UNESCO/IOC, the Director-General began by outlining the trust and support that UNESCO’s Member States have been willing to accord the Commission, notably through the attribution of a level of functional autonomy and administrative flexibility. He reminded the Commission’s members that this relative independence also implied a certain level of responsibility of the IOC’s Member States, especially with regards to support for the Commission’s activities both through financial and human resources. Mr Matsuura therefore called upon them to reinforce the Commission’s activities by increasing the share of extrabudgetary resources in the IOC’s budget. He nevertheless reassured the Commission members of UNESCO’s continued support of the IOC as one of its flagship programmes. “I can assure you’, he said, “that enhancing UNESCO’s leadership within the UN through the IOC on issues related to the sustainable management of oceans and coastal zones remains a core priority. I shall therefore be following your debate on the future of the IOC with great attention”.

In ending his address, the Director-General thanked the IOC Officers who are coming to the end of their second mandate during this session of the Assembly. He congratulated Professor David Pugh (UK) for his outstanding chairmanship of the Commission, and Dr. Alexander Frolov (Russian Federation), Professor Mario Ruivo (Portugal) and Captain Javier Valladares (Argentina) for the support they provided under the leadership of the Chairman, as well as the work accomplished over the last four years.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 087-2007
  • 21-06-2007
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