From 16 to 22 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova is in New York to take part in a range of high-level events within the framework of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Director-General will join Heads of State, Government leaders, along with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and civil society to share UNESCO’s all-out contribution to taking forward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and in promoting dialogue and lasting peace.
The 72nd session of the UN General Assembly takes place in turbulent times, when the world is facing enduring conflicts and humanitarian crises. This is throwing a shadow over entire regions, and placing pressure on societies and governments. In this context, the UNESCO contribution to the overall action of the United Nations focusses on advancing the empowerment of women and men, and societies, through education, through social inclusion and respect for diversity on the basis of human rights. These are the foundations for stronger societies, more sustainable development and lasting peace.
Securing top-level political commitment for investment in education and skills to achieve the SDGs is a theme running through the UN General Assembly Week. The Director-General will lead a panel on country-led reform during a high-level side event on “Financing the Future: Education 2030” on 20 September, co-hosted by Norway, France, Malawi and Senegal, with the participation of the UN Secretary General and several Heads of State, in partnership with the Education Commission, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education, the Malala Fund and the One Campaign. She will address issues of domestic financing on September 20 at an event organized by the Global Campaign for Education, and underscore the role of partnerships at a high-level breakfast co-hosted by the State of Qatar and UNICEF on 22 September. The Director-General will also draw attention to the necessity to equip youth with competences to live together during an event on Education for Peace, organized by Romania on 20 September, in the presence of the Romanian President and several Heads of State. She will bring her support to the work of Education Cannot Wait during a meeting of the High Level Steering Group on 19 September Strengthening partnerships to prepare youth for the jobs of tomorrow will be the focus of meetings that she will attend, organized by the Global Business Coalition for Education on 20 September, which is also launching a new Commission on Youth Skills and Innovation co-chaired with Intel.
The Director-General will make a strong case for the power of education as a transformative force, to build more inclusive and peaceful societies and to fight against violent extremism. In this context, on 18 September, the Director-General will host the Global Hope Summit alongside the Leadership Council of the Global Hope Coalition, during which a special session will take place to pay tribute to Heroes in the Global Campaign against Violent Extremism and Intolerance. The Summit aims to bring together Heads of State and government and United Nations heads of agencies, business leaders, cultural icons, philanthropists and human rights activists to launch the Global Hope Coalition to fight violent extremism and intolerance, preserve cultural and promote intercultural dialogue. Irina Bokova will also participate in the Global Hope Panel Discussion on “Women, Children, and the trauma of Extremism: An Urgent Call to Action” with the First Ladies of Mali and Rwanda and other high-level speakers, to discuss the need to protect and assist the most vulnerable victims of terrorism and violent extremism. The event will be moderated by Professor Phyllis Magrab, Director of the Georgetown University Center for Human and Child Development.
Within the framework of the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit, held on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Director-General will participate on 18 September in a public conversation with Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy. They will discuss the progress made since the adoption of the SDGs two years ago and examine work left to achieve peace and security for all. The session will be moderated by CNBC Chief International Correspondent and “Power Lunch” Co-Anchor, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Every year, the Concordia Summit convenes the world’s most prominent business, government, and non-profit leaders to enable effective partnerships for impact.
On 20 September, the Director-General will highlight the importance of water cooperation and the central role of water to achieve the SDGs at the high-level event “Towards Implementation of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ 2018-2028”. The event is organized by the Permanent Missions of Canada, Ecuador, Japan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Tajikistan, as well as UNDESA, UNDP, UNESCO-WWAP and UN-Water, and will take place in the presence of the President of Tajikistan H.E. Mr Emomali Rahmon, champion if this Decade aimed at building support and momentum for the implementation of water related SDGs.
On 21 September, Irina Bokova will make the case for the power of culture and the importance of cultural literacy in the prevention of war, early-warning signs and peacebuilding, at high-level side event on “Protecting cultural heritage from terrorism and mass atrocities”. The event is organized by the Permanent Missions of the European Union and Italy to the United Nations, together with UNESCO, UNODC and the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect.
On 17 September, as Co-Vice Chair, Irina Bokova will also participate in the meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Digital Development, with the President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Mr Paul Kagame, the President of the Carlos Slim Foundation, Mr Caros Slim Helú, and the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Mr Houlin Zhao, and a wide range of Commissioners.
On the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Director-General is expected to hold several bilateral meetings.