In 2015, at the request of Global Affairs Canada, the Commission undertook pan-Canadian consultations with experts, government representatives and the public on UNESCO's Programme and Budget for 2018-2021. Based on these consultations, we developed an internal briefing book to support the Canadian delegation—it includes extensive analysis of UNESCO's budget and future programming. Our role in supporting Canada's participation at the 38th Session of the UNESCO General Conference was recognized by Canadian delegation members.
The UNESCO General Conference brought together a record 2,738 delegates representing 191 Member States. Élaine Ayotte, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Canada to UNESCO, and Line Beauchamp, Representative of the Government of Quebec within the Permanent Delegation of Canada, delivered speeches. Ms. Ayotte reiterated Canada's position and priorities, particularly the importance of fundamental values such as human rights and freedom of expression. She also announced that UNESCO and the Commission will co-host Education Week for Peace and Sustainable Development in Ottawa in March 2017.
Canada will follow up on UNESCO's reflection process on the feasibility of preparing a Declaration on Ethical Principles for Climate Change and the elaboration of an action plan to protect cultural heritage and promote pluralism in emergency and conflict situations. It will also follow up on its appointment to the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which deals with freedom of the press and the safety of journalists.
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO has three Sectoral Commissions: (1) Education, (2) Human, Social and Natural Sciences, and (3) Culture, Communication and Information. Consultative in nature, the Sectoral Commissions provide recommendations to the Executive Committee as well as a unique platform for the sharing of knowledge and proven practices. They are composed of experts, NGOs and government representatives striving to promote the interests of UNESCO's programs and activities in Canada in their respective sectors.
Beginning in fiscal year 2015/16, the Sectoral Commission presidents undertook an analysis of the roles and functions of all three commissions in order to assess how they may contribute more robustly to the implementation of CCUNESCO's mandate, and how the commissions can better approach major current issues through a cross-sectoral and thematic lens. The three presidents also organized and led thematic breakout sessions at CCUNESCO's 56th AGM, which helped underscore our individual and collective responsibility related to issues of citizenship, sustainable development and education. The breakout sessions identified different ways of advancing work on these issues in a concrete fashion. (Read the complete report here.)
Photo: Jon Yee
The Value of UNESCO Associated Schools pilot project assessed the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network in Canada—the first program we have formally assessed for its value to Canadians. The project team, led by Past President Axel Meisen, released a report at the 56th AGM. It found that a new methodology developed by the Commission successfully measured both the qualitative and quantitative value of UNESCO Associated Schools in Canada. The report also found that principles taught, such as inclusiveness and sustainability, tend to radiate outward from students to impact families and communities, as well. Whether the application of these principles is sustained over the long term is a question for further study, but we are now equipped with a useful methodology ("A-DEM") that can be applied to other studies and shared with other National Commissions tasked with measuring the value of UNESCO programs. Read more about the project and the anecdote-based survey methodology in the full report.