Opening the high level segment of the meeting, UNESCO’s Director of Strategic Planning, Jean-Yves Le Saux recognized the Republic of Korea’s as a top supporter of UNESCO’s Global Priorities, namely Priority Africa and Gender Equality, and UNESCO’s single largest donor in the area of girls and women’s education. “I sincerely thank the Government of the Republic of Korea for the trust placed in UNESCO and would reaffirm our collective commitment to further reinforce our precious partnership in the future” said Jean-Yves Le Saux.
Mr Jong-ho KYUN, Deputy Director General for Public Diplomacy and Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) emphasized the importance of the meeting to take stock of the on-going joint projects and share views on the priority areas of cooperation between the ROK and UNESCO
The ensuing policy discussion started with a discussion on education to which around 75% of the Republic of Korea’s ongoing funding for UNESCO is targeted. This focused on the strengthening of on-going cooperation with the Ministry of Education on the technical and vocational training (TVET), particularly in Africa through the BEAR project, the support to girls’ and women’s education, as well as the growing importance of education through ICT notably in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighted. The global citizenship education (GCE) was also identified as an important common priority area in particular for tackling racism and discrimination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and KOICA confirmed also the positive consideration of a TVET proposal submitted by UNESCO in the framework ‘Revive the spirit of the Mosul’ initiative, with a view to enhancing job opportunities for vulnerable youth in Iraq.
In the field of natural sciences and oceans, the water security and the implementation of the Ocean Decade were identified by the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and KIOST and as major areas for futures cooperation where discussion at working level will continue for the identification of concrete joint projects, including in the field of biodiversity conservation with the Jeju Province and KOICA.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also recalled their contribution to the organization by UNESCO of the Global Forum on Anti-Racism and Discrimination and confirmed the interest of their Government to continue their support on this common high-level priority area. In this regard, they recalled the launch of the ‘Group of Friends for Solidarity and Inclusion with Global Citizenship Education‘ in 2020, which also contributed to the adoption of the ‘Global Call against Racism‘ and the decision relating to it at the 210th session of the Executive Board.
The Ministry of Science and ICT also recalled that the Republic of Korea supported UNESCO’s efforts to form an international consensus on the ethics of AI, and in this context hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on the UNESCO Recommendations on the Ethics of AI. Thus, future cooperation could be identified in this area notably when discussions on UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI had progressed further.
Finally, the importance of the cooperation between the Republic of Korea and UNESCO in the area of the World Heritage, referring particularly to President Moon Jae-in’s expression of hope for a joint registration of the DMZ on the World Heritage list, was highlighted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. the future signature of two funding agreements with the Cultural Heritage Administration to support new world heritage projects in Asia Pacific was announced in the amount of USD 6 million. The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism also confirmed to continue their support to the cultural and creative industries, notably to support the shift to the digital environment, and to be ready to explore other areas of possible future cooperation including on the activities related to UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
The meeting was attended by relevant project officers from UNESCO Headquarter and field offices from Asia, Africa and Middle-East and 14 Korean Ministries and public institutions supporting UNESCO’s activities, including, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Cultural Heritage Administration, the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST), Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Jeju Special Self-governing Province, the Korean National Archives, MAB National Committee, and the National Commission for UNESCO.