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The Director-General of UNESCO takes part in the welcoming ceremony for the new Rector of the United Nations University

The Director-General of UNESCO takes part in the welcoming ceremony for the new Rector of the United Nations University
  • © UNESCO/C. Duvelle

During a ceremony held in the United Nations Building in Tokyo on 31 August, Professor Konrad Osterwalder of Switzerland officially took up his duties as Rector of the United Nations University.

Appointed following an extensive international search process and consultations with the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Professor Osterwalder is the fifth Rector of the United Nations University and succeeds Professor Hans van Ginkel (The Netherlands), who has served as UNU Rector since 1997.

In his speech delivered in this occasion, the Director-General, Mr Matsuura, speaking on behalf of both UNESCO and United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, paid tribute to Professor van Ginkel’s “energy, wisdom and expertise”. “Among Professor van Ginkel’s many accomplishments as rector, perhaps the most important is his work to strengthen UNU’s function as a globally recognized thinktank. By establishing closer linkages between research and policy-making, he has strengthened UNU’s capacity to respond to global challenges, from peace and poverty reduction to the sustainable management of the environment. In this regard, the results of UNU’s work can support the strategic and operational activities of many UN bodies, as well as those of bilateral agencies and national governments.”

Welcoming Professor Osterwalder, the Director-General stated: “This is a very important time for UNU, one that brings great challenges, but also exciting new opportunities – and which cannot brook complacency” he added. “UNESCO, for its part, will encourage closer collaboration and interaction in our work. […] As knowledge-based organizations, we have a responsibility to promote research and innovation that will help find solutions to fundamental global challenges.”

On 29 August, at the same venue, Mr Matsuura opened the UNU/UNESCO Conference, “Pathways towards a shared future: Changing roles of higher education in a globalized world”, in the presence of high representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

Underlining new challenges and opportunities posed by globalization for higher education – mobility, massive increase in student population, the emergence of new forms of higher education provision, the unprecedented emphasis being placed on research within higher education and its contribution to national development, and gender equality, Mr Matsuura said: “We must look at the range of issues that face us today, from those of access, equity and quality, to how to strengthen higher education and research institutions so that they can better contribute to the development of our societies. And together, we must work to find the answers, in order to ensure that globalization works for the benefit of all. […] I am convinced that this conference will offer valuable guidance to the international community on the way forward. The outcomes of this event will provide input into the 2009 World Conference on Higher Education as well as the ongoing work of the UNESCO Forum for Higher Education, Research and Knowledge.”

  • Auteur(s):La Porte-parole
  • Source:Flash Info N° 108-2007
  • 03-09-2007
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