5.) A new management approach


© UNESCO/M. Ravassard

Repositioning UNESCO’s programme and activities was only part of Mr Matsuura’s vision. Realizing that effective and efficient delivery must be underpinned by management practices that put the emphasis on quality and impact, the Director-General embarked over ten years on an equally ambitious series of management reforms.

He set about simplifying and rationalizing the Secretariat structure, strengthening respect for rules and procedures, overhauling human resources and developing the spirit and practice of transparency and accountability. This extensive work required significant efficiencies and economies because all of these changes had to be funded within a declining budget.

One of the first steps in 1999 was to overhaul the composition of the Secretariat and to give it fresh impetus by developing a rational and balanced Organizational structure and clarifying lines of authority. The results are visible in the much leaner staff profile, with, for example, 50% fewer Director level posts than in 1999. Today, the 102 posts at this level represent 5% of the total posts, and 12% of Professional and above posts.

Another very significant change was to devolve management governance back to the programme sectors. Each sector was empowered through new tables of accountability and delegation and supported by an executive office.

Gender parity has been a strong commitment, so that today, UNESCO has one of the highest rates of female representation within the UN system. For example, parity has been achieved at P-1 to P-5 levels with 51% of posts being held by women. In order to address the continuing imbalance at senior management levels, the Director-General has developed an Action Plan to Improve Gender Equality, which proposes a series of measures to raise the level of representation at director level and above to a target of 50% by 2015.

On taking office Mr Matsuura pledged to rejuvenate the staff. Between 1999 and 2008 there was a 20% increase in the number of staff aged between 30 and 34; and a 51% increase in those aged 35-39, which means that the staff profile is much younger than it was ten years ago. The 79 new recruits from under and non-represented states brought in since 2000 under the Young Professionals Programme, have greatly contributed to this, as well as to making the Secretariat more geographically diverse, with staff coming from 160 Member States today, as opposed to 144 in June 2000.

Mr Matsuura understood that the Organization’s staff is its most precious asset, and the key to delivering the programme. One of the most significant aspects of the reform has been the development of a new human resources policy framework, following the thorough review of all aspects of the personnel policy. The outcome was the adoption of an integrated staff policy to establish the systems and process of recruitment through competition, training and development, performance appraisal, merit promotion and geographical mobility.

Introducing a culture of transparency and accountability

Over ten years, Mr Matsuura brought about a new management culture, where setting expected results and evaluating personal and programme performance have become an integral part of daily working life. Mr Matsuura has emphasized inclusiveness, with a participatory approach characterised by regular meetings of the senior management team and the use of taskforces or working groups drawn from across the Organisation to tackle the big issues of the day.

In 2001, Mr Matsuura established the Internal Oversight Service (IOS) to provide a consolidated oversight mechanism covering internal audit, evaluation and investigation to bring transparency and encourage continuous improvement. This was one of the first such offices established within the UN system. The use of programme evaluation is now extensive and is reinforcing UNESCO’s results based management. During his second mandate, Mr Matsuura established the Oversight Advisory Committee, comprising professional external experts to advise the Director-General on issues of audit, evaluation, internal control and risk management. In 2008, a high-level risk management committee was set up to identify key organisational risks, develop mitigation plans and in future, make risk management a permanent and systematic feature of programme execution and management.

An ethics office has also been recently created, to advise staff on ethical standards and issues, develop and deliver ethics training, establish a voluntary disclosure channel, and develop financial disclosure arrangements.


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