UNESCO 38th General Conference Opens in Paris

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The 38th Session of the General Conference of United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) opened yesterday, November 3, in Paris, France with the organization’s outgoing President Hoa Ping, the Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China and President of the 36th Session of the General Conference, announcing the commencement of the proceedings.

The Crown Prince of Norway, Prince Haakon, said the relevance of the organization and its mandate at its 70th Anniversary is critical and important for global participation.

“UNESCO’s role and mandate is as important today as it was 70 years ago. Education, science, culture, communication and information are all essential in a world where people are increasingly interconnected and dependent on each other,” he said.

Prince Haakon commended UNESCO for its leading role in promoting access to quality education for all; in fostering free, independent and pluralistic media; and in protecting cultural heritage and cultural diversity in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world.

The Crown Prince highlighted the centrality of education, safeguarding freedom of expression and preserving cultural heritage to ensure inclusive, equitable and sustainable development and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

A young Liberian student who participated in the Youth Forum at UNESCO, Elton James Bon, was selected as one of the three youths to read the final resolution which called on UNESCO to create an interconnected world where young people from different corners of the world could interact and share their common values and ideas.

“We call upon UNESCO to create bridging capacity between young women and men from different continents by establishing intercontinental social innovation incubators that will produce social start-ups with empowering knowledge, skills and experience,” read the final resolution.

The UNESCO Youth Forum was created in 1999 to provide young people with the opportunity to present their concerns and ideas to Member States and help shape the direction of UNESCO.

Every two years, young people from 195 Member States come together at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris to discuss and debate thematic areas of concern.

The forum ended with a series of recommended actions which were presented at the UNESCO General Conference. The actions take into account the lived experiences and unique perspectives of youth as well as the challenges facing young people today, ensuring that the voices of youth are properly represented in programmatic decisions made by the Member States.

The Forum took places on the heels of a crucial time for sustainable development – just one month after the UN Summit for adoption of the post-2015 Development Agenda and one month before the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The 9th UNESCO Youth Forum will therefore serve as a strategic opportunity to ensure that the voices of future generations remain front and center of the new development agenda.

The Liberian delegation to the Conference includes, Education Minister, George Werner, Youth and Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe, Deputy Minister of Information, Isaac W. Jackson, Assistant Education Minister, Yukhiko Amnon, Assistant Information

Minister for Culture, Louise Mcmillan, Sam Hare and Caston Harris from the UNESCO Monrovia office, and Liberia’s Ambassador to France and UNESCO, Dr. C. William Allen.

They will be addressing the conference and also hold side discussions with relevant authorities of UNESCO on Education, Information, youth and sports, media development and promotion, TVET and cultural and tourism promotion, among others.

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