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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

1.) Increased focus – concentration of programmes, better results

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© UNESCO/M. Ravassard

Mr Matsuura took office at a time when the Organization’s effort was spread thinly across many fields of activity, which limited UNESCO’s impact. He resolved to refocus the Organization’s action in response to the challenges of the twenty-first century, concentrating on those areas where UNESCO could make a unique contribution.


The Medium Term Strategy for 2002-2007 (31 C/4) encapsulated this new vision by establishing clear priorities for each Programme Sector in areas of urgent global need:
• In Education: achieving Education for All (EFA)
• In Culture: promoting and protecting Cultural Diversity
• In the Natural Sciences: managing freshwater resources
• In the Social and Human Sciences: Bioethics
• In Communication and Information: Freedom of Expression

This sharper focus has positioned UNESCO to become more involved in other critical areas of United Nations work, such as providing increased support for achieving Internationally Agreed Development Goals including the Millennium Development Goals. An example is in addressing the HIV and AIDS pandemic, where UNESCO today plays a lead role in HIV prevention education within UNAIDS.

The setting of programme priorities was accompanied by a strong commitment to results based management requiring every programme to articulate its expected results and indicators or measures.

The emphasis on results was further refined in the Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2013 (34 C/4) which continues this commitment to focused strategic action and impact. It also pioneered new forms of programme delivery, with the introduction of 12 thematic intersectoral platforms to enable UNESCO to respond in a more integrated and interdisciplinary manner to increasingly complex global challenges. Each platform brings together the expertise of the five programme sectors to address key international issues. For example, UNESCO has taken on new responsibilities in the global fight against climate change, in mitigating natural disasters and developing tsunami early warning systems, and in promoting innovative policies for sustainable development, in particular through education for sustainable development.

In all these areas, Mr Matsuura has given special attention to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations and countries. UNESCO has strengthened its efforts in Africa, bolstering support to African Member states and building robust relations with African regional and sub-regional organizations. UNESCO is now the first partner of African countries in the implementation of ambitious new action plans in the fields of education, culture, and the sciences. This renewed attention to Africa is reflected in the increase of the budget devoted to Africa by each programme sector and the Africa Department. UNESCO is also playing a leading role in promoting gender equality, which – first within the multilateral system – the Organization has established alongside Africa as an overarching global priority.


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Director General's Achievements:
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Delivering an ambitious 10 year plan

  • 1.) Increased Focus - programme concentration, better results

  • 2.) Country-level action – direct impact on the ground

  • 3.) A catalyst for international co-operation

  • 4.) Strengthening UNESCO’s legitimacy, visibility and outreach

  • 5.) A new management approach

  • 6.) Future challenges




    Europe and North America Latin America and the Caribbean Africa Arab States Asia Pacific