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


© UNESCO/M. Ravassard

Under Mr Matsuura’s leadership, the United States of America returned to UNESCO in 2003. In addition, 4 other countries - Singapore (2007), Montenegro (2007), Brunei Darussalam (2005), and Timor-Leste (2003) - have joined or rejoined the Organization. UNESCO’s enlarged membership of 193 Member States and 7 Associate Members signals Member States’ recognition of the importance of the Organization as a forum of international cooperation where Member States can come together to exchange knowledge and forge strategies to address shared challenges.

In his determination to heighten the Organization’s effectiveness and develop better delivery systems in Member States, Mr Matsuura pursued new partnerships that pool the resources of private, non-governmental and governmental entities. These new partnerships have increased the Organization’s visibility and deepened its knowledge-base through access to vital networks and expert knowledge.

Under Mr Matsuura there has been a quadrupling of the number of regional centres of expertise - known as Category 2 Centres - hosted by governments under UNESCO’s auspices to explore and develop regional capacities in programmatic priorities, such as water or intangible heritage. Established networks have also grown exponentially since 1999 – the network of Associated schools, for example, has gained 2,500 new members, and now covers 180 countries; the number of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks has expanded almost ten-fold, from 74 chairs and 6 networks at the end of 1999 to 649 chairs and 61 networks today. These networks represent an immense resource in terms of knowledge exchange and outreach.

In recent years, important public-private partnerships have been developed and tested with multinational corporations such as L’Oréal, Daimler-Chrysler, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Under Mr Matsuura’s leadership, UNESCO has increased cooperation with organizations of the UN system and other Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), as well as international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), foundations, and various national partners such as national institutions, parliamentarians, cities and local authorities. For example, UNESCO has signed agreements with 87 IGOs, and currently enjoys official relations with 310 international NGOs and 26 foundations and similar institutions. Most significantly, UNESCO has a unique form of collaboration with its Member States through their National Commissions for UNESCO; it is the only Organization in the UN family to benefit from such a country-based system.


A UNESCO that is both credible and relevant

On taking up office, Mr Matsuura sought to increase the credibility of the Organization by positioning UNESCO as a responsible and valued partner within the UN system. He also reinforced and rationalized UNESCO’s field-network, so that the Organization could contribute effectively to common UN country-level action and improve its service to Member States.

From having minimal contact with other partners, UNESCO is today a significant actor, contributing to strategic policy discussions within the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and its subsidiary bodies, and fully engaged in efforts to improve the coherence and quality of multilateral action on the ground.

During his second mandate, Mr Matsuura worked relentlessly to ensure the full engagement of UNESCO in the UN system-wide effort to “deliver as one”, helping to forge a flexible and inclusive approach that recognizes the relevance and expertise of specialized agencies.

UNESCO has taken the lead to increase coherence in areas where it carries special responsibilities, such as global action on education, freshwater, and oceans, while reinforcing its contribution to joint UN efforts in other key domains, in particular HIV and AIDS, science and technology policy, culture for development, climate change, gender equality, human rights and sustainable development.

A significant sign of the Organization’s improved credibility is the substantial increase in extrabudgetary contributions to UNESCO’s programmes and projects. Over the past decade, the figures have more than doubled, from around USD150 million in extrabudgetary contributions in 1999, to USD367 million in 2007. Today, UNESCO receives more than half of its resources from extrabudgetary funding sources, thus illustrating donors’ increased confidence in the Organization’s work.


Director General's Achievements:
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