UNESCO Director-General meets with Executive Director of UNEP

Paris, 28 January

UNESCO Director-General meets with Executive Director of UNEP
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 26 January 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, met with Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Welcoming Mr Steiner, Mr Matsuura recalled the long history of fruitful cooperation between the two Organizations. He underscored the importance of signing a new comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two bodies, in order to put in place a general framework for cooperation, to further identify strategic issues for joint action and to define the modalities for implementation over the short, medium and long term.

Mr Steiner underlined that science was the key driver for environment and therefore that UNEP looked forward to reinforced cooperation with UNESCO in the areas of scientific research and assessment. The Director-General underscored that scientific research and assessment underpinned UNESCO’s action in the sciences. For example, he noted the work of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) on assessing the impacts of climate change on the oceans, which acts as the basis for the Organization’s multidisciplinary action on climate change.

The Director-General and Mr Steiner agreed to sign the MoU in the near future. They had a preliminary discussion on the main fields that could be the subject of the MoU, which could include, inter alia, environmental education, climate change, oceans and biodiversity. Mr Matsuura and Mr Steiner also agreed to look into the possibility of joint programming at the country level, exchange of staff, increasing the visibility of both organizations through joint actions, and a closer collaboration between the field networks of UNESCO and UNEP.

With regard to climate change, the Director-General underlined the importance of the issue in particular for small islands states, as his recent mission to three states in the Caribbean had confirmed. Mr Matsuura and Mr Steiner also underscored the importance of addressing climate change in the Arctic. In that regard, both Mr Matsuura and Mr Steiner will participate in the international experts meeting organized by UNESCO on ‘Sustainable Development of the Arctic in the face of Global Climate Change’, to be held in Monaco 3-6 March 2009. Prince Albert of Monaco and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Arctic, Professor Jean Malaurie, will also be keynote speakers at the meeting.

With regard to oceans, Mr Matsuura and Mr Steiner agreed to “bring the oceans back on the international agenda”, as this vital issue was not getting the attention and financing it deserved. The Director-General indicated that ocean governance would be the subject of a Ministerial Conference during UNESCO’s next General Conference in the fall of 2009, within the context of the 50th anniversary of IOC in 2010, and that it would be important on that occasion to have the participation of other UN agencies involved in the oceans such as UNEP.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 010-2009
  • 28-01-2009
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