What is UNESCO?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was created in 1945 in the wake of the Second World War, and Canada was one of its 20 founding members. UNESCO champions equity, peace and sustainable development by sparking and deepening dialogue among nations in areas such as education, culture, the natural, human and social sciences, and communication and information. It inspires cooperation and serves as a hub for the exchange of knowledge and ideas among its member states. In short, UNESCO’s mission is to build peace among people who are far apart—geographically and culturally. To do so, it relies on a network of 199 country- based National Commissions around the world to carry out its mandate locally and to act as conduits for sharing knowledge around the world.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for accelerating transformation around the world for the good of people, planet and prosperity. Agenda 2030 contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030 that will inform the work of UNESCO and other UN agencies. These SDGs will contribute to sustainability in education, ecosystems, cities, consumption and economies while prioritizing health, equity, human rights and cultural diversity.

What does the Canadian Commission for UNESCO do?

Formed in 1957, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO carries out the work of UNESCO in Canada. Our members are experts and knowledge keepers in education, culture, world heritage, communication and information, youth, and the natural, human and social sciences. Together, supported by a dedicated Secretariat, we consult, research and collaborate in UNESCO’s mandated areas—ensuring that UNESCO’s priorities and programs thrive in Canada, and that Canadian perspectives are in turn brought to the international stage. Our members come from across Canada and include universities, NGOs, institutions, governmental departments and agencies, and individuals. These diverse members are vital to our mission; being a network of networks allows us to connect directly with civil society on some of today’s most pressing concerns. We draw on these connections in our pursuit of an equitable, sustainable and peaceful society. CCUNESCO operates under the authority of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Our activities promote Agenda 2030 while realizing the objectives of CCUNESCO’s Strategic Plan and overarching priorities. Three priorities in particular—equity, peace and sustainable development—align with the SDGs of Agenda 2030 and will direct our activities in coming years.