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Cooperation with National Commissions

UNESCO is the only specialized agency of the United Nations that has National Commissions in its Member States. 199 National Commissions are currently working worldwide at the interface between the state, civil society and UNESCO.

Through cooperation with other National Commissions, the German Commission for UNESCO has been working successfully for many years. It supports them in their capacities and positioning in order to increase the number of competent partners worldwide for a powerful implementation of UNESCO programmes.

Regionally, the German UNESCO Commission focuses on cooperation in Europe and with Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, she works closely with numerous other National Commissions worldwide.

Cooperation in Europe

On a joint initiative with the Dutch and Flemish National Commissions, the German Commission for UNESCO in 2015 launched the founding conference for the informal network of European National Commissions in Bonn. The network includes those National Commissions whose states are members of UNESCO and at the same time are members of the EU, EU accession states or EFTA states or who use the euro as their currency.

These 40 National Commissions share their experience through a common online platform maintained by the German Commission for UNESCO. Every year, they meet at multi-day meetings. In addition to learning from each other and increasing the visibility of UNESCO in Europe, they seek synergies between the work of UNESCO and the EU. The regular exchange has already resulted in numerous activities and projects.

Cooperation with the Austrian, Slovakian and Polish National Commissions 2014 to 2016 has strengthened Sustainability Science in eight Central and Eastern European countries. The National Commissions from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg have been working closely together since the 1950s. At annual meetings, they share their experiences and plan joint activities.

Cooperation with Africa

Africa has been a priority for UNESCO for many years. Since 2008, the German Commission for UNESCO has been cooperating with selected African National Commissions The beginning of the cooperation was codified in 2008 by the "Bonn Roadmap" and updated in 2016 by the "Seeta Agreement".

Thematic priorities are jointly agreed by the German Commission UNESCO and the African National Commissions. In over ten years, a close cooperation framework and ambitious partnership program has emerged, with three objectives:

  1. Strengthening the capacity for action of African National Commissions;
  2. Support the implementation of key UNESCO instruments in Africa (for example the World Heritage Convention or the "Man and the Biosphere" programme);
  3. Promoting regional cooperation between African National Commissions

In Eastern Africa, the German Commission for UNESCO supports the regional cooperation of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda since 2008. The Uganda National Commission has established its own secretariat for this cooperation. The most important result of the cooperation so far is the "Capacity Development Training Manual for UNESCO National Commissions" (2015, available in English and French). Every year, the German UNESCO Commission supports at least one workshop on regional cooperation in Africa.

In Southern Africa, since 2012, the German Commission for UNESCO has been supporting the cooperation of National Commissions from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and eSwatini / Swaziland. The National Commissions of Southern Africa have set up their own online knowledge sharing platform and are now also financially involved in events. From 2017 to 2019, the German Commission for UNESCO also supports these countries in implementing the program "Man and the Biosphere".

Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of university graduates

The Student Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion (STEP) has proved particularly successful in the partnership with African National Commissions. The German Commission for UNESCO has cooperated with the Commissions of Liberia, Kenya, Uganda, Mexico and Lesotho and Leuphana University Lüneburg for three years in order to strengthen entrepreneurship at the universities there. From 2018, this will also be done in South Africa and the Philippines. These projects were mostly financed by the BASF Foundation.

In addition, the German Commission for UNESCO sends young volunteers to some 20 National Commissions worldwide each year. From 2019, the German Commission for UNESCO will also send young people to nature-related UNESCO sites worldwide.