Delegates of Iceland have presented their points of emphases for Iceland’s Executive Board candidacy to the UNESCO General Conference. Iceland has been increasing its activities and contributions to development cooperation within UNESCO in recent years.
The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is currently being held in Paris. The Conference is held every two years and is the main policy-making and decision-taking authority of UNESCO. The Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, addressed the Conference on behalf of the Icelandic authorities, since the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, was unable to attend.
In his address, the Minister announced Iceland’s emphases for the candidacy, which will be voted on next week. This is a common candidacy of all the Nordic countries, since they share a strong emphasis on having Nordic representation on the UNESCO Executive Board. There are three candidates in the group of Western states, for the same number of seats. The other candidates are Austria and Turkey, and therefore there is no competition within the group. If Iceland is elected, it will hold its seat for a term of four years. State representatives on the Board can directly influence the implementation of various UNESCO programmes and policy areas.
In his address, the Minister also stressed the importance of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting a more equal access to technologies and digital solutions. He additionally encouraged a stronger push for gender equality within the organisation and increasing the participation of men in that effort, since gender equality is one of the cross-cutting objectives of UNESCO’s policy. He also iterated the importance of a human rights-based approach in the organisation’s programmes, with an emphasis on the rights and safety of LGBTI people.
The Minister also mentioned opportunities for education, since in many places there are considerable challenges in that area, especially because of the ongoing pandemic. An emphasis on sustainable development and the fight against the hazards of climate change is important in that respect. The address also underlined the necessity to continue to fight against information chaos and attacks on media freedom through the UNESCO platform. Iceland has been increasing its financial support for various UNESCO development projects lately, including media development and education in developing countries.
Next Friday, the President of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, will attend an event in Paris to celebrate UNESCO’s 75th anniversary. The Organisation’s Executive Board election will take place on Wednesday, 17 November.