About the Office at UNESCO

Paris , France

UNU/UNESCO Cooperation
Cooperation by UNESCO Sector
  • As a bridge between UNESCO and the United Nations University’s Headquarters and Institutes, the UNU Office in Paris monitors the main activities of UNESCO in all fields and liaises with its various sectors.

    UNU-OP, as part of its mandate, aims to showcase the recent work of UNU Institutes within UNESCO as well as to stimulate collaboration between UNU and UNESCO. UNU-OP also participates in meetings, disseminates information, and provides logistic support for the UNU Centre and Institutes.

    The UN University’s mission is to contribute to efforts aimed at resolving the pressing global problems of human survival, development, justice and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.

    Being an academic institution within the United Nations system, UNU contributes directly to the advancement of knowledge relevant to the role and work of the United Nations, as well as to its application in the formulation of sound principles, policies, strategies and programmes for action.


    The UNU Office at UNESCO displays titles published by UNU Press, the scholarly publishing division of UNU. Access by appointment only: please telephone 01 45 68 46 42.


  • Charter of the United Nations University

    Article I of the UNU Charter stipulates that in achieving its stated objectives, the UNU functions under the joint sponsorship of the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    Council of the United Nations University

    UNESCO is related to the UNU Council in different ways: The 24 members of the UNU Council are appointed jointly by the Secretary-General of the UN and by the Director-General of UNESCO, in consultation with the agencies and programmes concerned, including the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and taking into account the views of appropriate representative bodies. The Director-General of UNESCO shall be an ex officio member of the UNU Council.

    The UNU Council reports annually to the Executive Board of UNESCO, through the Secretary-General of the UN and the Director-General of UNESCO, respectively, on the work of the University.

    Rector of the University

    The Rector of the University shall be appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after consultation with the Director-General of UNESCO.

    Cooperation between UNU and UNESCO was formalized by an Aide-Mémoire on Working Relations between the two organizations signed on 22 April 2004. According to this agreement, the “Parties will act in close cooperation, including research and capacity-building projects and other activities at the global, regional and national levels, in order to coordinate their work and to strengthen cooperation”.

    The Rector of the United Nations University, Professor Konrad Osterwalder made his first appearance before the UNESCO Executive Board at its 179th session in April 2008. In April 2009, at the 181st session of the Executive Board, the Rector participated in the debate on strengthening cooperation between the two institutions.

    Following a decision taken during this session, the Director-General presented a revised plan of joint activities undertaken by UNESCO and UNU at the 182nd session. At this meeting, the Executive Board invited him to pursue his cooperation with UNU in the areas listed in the revised plan of joint activities, encouraged him to support the efforts of UNU to implement master’s and doctoral programmes in collaboration with partner universities, and further invited Member States to consider making extra-budgetary contributions to enable UNESCO and UNU to carry out their plan of joint activities for the 2010–2011 biennium.

  • UNU and UNESCO are developing their expertise in certain common priority areas that have been identified for the future. Climate change and its impact on education, water resources and coastal areas; global governance and new technologies; education for sustainable development; sustainability; biodiversity; intercultural dialogue; gender equality; innovation; migration; and the rapprochement of cultures, represent some of the key areas for both organisations. Further cooperation between UNU and UNESCO should be established in all these domains. Finally, both UNU and UNESCO have a vocation to build bridges between academia, policy-makers, civil society and the private sector.

    Several major cooperation agreements have been concluded between UNESCO and UNU, including an Aide-Mémoire on working relations between the two bodies signed in April 2004. Important activities and projects have been developed and implemented in recent years through direct collaboration between the different UNESCO Sectors and UNU Institutes in areas such as the earth sciences; water resources; South-South cooperation; migration; regional integration; ethics; online collaborative development; quality assurance for education; innovation in higher education; UNESCO-UNU Chairs and Networks; and education for sustainable development.

    Cooperation with the Education Sector

    UNESCO-UNU Chairs and Networks

    The most important cooperation area with the Education Sector is the UNESCO-UNU Chairs and Networks programme. Its institutional basis was formalised in 1994, with the signing of an Agreement of Cooperation between UNESCO and UNU, concerning the UNU/UNESCO UNITWIN Chairs Programme, thus creating the basis for the establishment of UNESCO-UNU Chairs and Networks.

    Eight UNESCO-UNU Chairs and Networks exist in 2012:

    1. UNESCO-UNU Chair in Plant Biotechnology, Peking University (China), 1992
    2. UNESCO-UNU Chair on the Concept and Practice of Zero Emission in Africa, University of Namibia (Namibia), 1996
    3. UNESCO-UNU Chair on University History and Future, Universidad de Palermo (Argentina), 1997
    4. UNESCO-UNU Chair and Network on Global Economics and Sustainable Development, Colégio do Brasil/Ordecc (Brazil), 1997
    5. UNESCO-UNU Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi), Technical University of Catalonia (Spain), 1999
    6. UNESCO-UNU-City of Cannes Mediterranean Chair and Network on Water Resources, Sustainable Development and Peace: Participation of Universities, Cities and Economic Actors, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France), 1999
    7. UNESCO-UNU Network of Africa-Asia University Dialogue for Educational Development, University of Hiroshima (Japan), 2010
    8. UNESCO-UNU Chair on Regional Integration, Migration and Free Movement of People, UNU-CRIS (Belgium), 2010

    In order to reinforce the contribution of these UNESCO-UNU Chairs and Networks to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, a joint evaluation of each of them was conducted in November 2010 by the UNU Office in Paris and the UNESCO Division for Higher Education. The results of this assessment will be presented at the Executive Board in 2012.

    Group of Reflection on Higher Education Themes

    As home to UNESCO, the OECD and many universities and research institutes, Paris has a broad community of higher education researchers and scholar-practitioners. On the initiative of the Higher Education Section of UNESCO, members of this community hold an informal monthly meeting under the title Group for Reflection on Higher Education Themes (GRHET). The UNU Office in Paris participates in the GRHET. The Group aims at sharing ideas and information among an informal network of professionals in Paris with a deep interest in higher education. The format is to meet once a month to discuss a particular theme, host guest speakers, and share ideas, papers, and information on events or projects.

    Cooperation with the Natural Sciences Sector

    Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands Programme (SUMAMAD)

    The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) works with UNESCO on the Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands Programme (SUMAMAD-2). The objective of the SUMAMAD-2 project is to enhance the sustainable management and conservation of marginal drylands in Africa, Arab States, Asia and Latin America, while providing improved and alternative livelihoods for dryland populations. This phase (2009-2013) follows on the first one conducted from 2003 to 2007 and focuses on building the capacity of dryland researchers to transfer their scientific findings for use both by local communities and by policy-level decision-makers. Research activities identify and pursue evaluation approaches to inform decision-makers on sustainable land and water management practices. Future scenario development and evaluation of ecosystem services are two key tools for such assessments. These tools are explored through a participatory, multi-stakeholder process approach, involving landowners, farmers and other stakeholders, with a focus on sustainable and indigenous dryland management practices. Analysis of current and ongoing community-level strategies for coping with dryland conditions is an essential element of these evaluations. A cross-cutting objective is to strengthen capacity-building in all study sites through training schemes, study visits among project partners in the field, and environmental education in formal and non-formal contexts.

    World Atlas of Mangroves

    The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and UNESCO, along with other partners (listed below), published the 2nd World Atlas of Mangroves in 2010. This edition is intended for managers, conservation experts and scientists. Its purpose is to help in decision-making related to conservation and development schemes. It also strengthens awareness for the protection and sustainable management of mangrove habitats not only at the rural community level but also at the political level. The Atlas is based on standardized evaluation of existing data, leading to the development of a reliable and consistent baseline. The Atlas Partners are: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Man and the Biosphere Programme (UNESCO-MAB), the United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and the United Nations University Institute on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

    W:Science Project and Groundwater Working Group

    UNESCO is a core partner and lead institution for the IW:Science Project and Groundwater Working Group, managed by the UNU Institute on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). The IW:Science Project aims to enhance — through knowledge integration and information sharing — the use of science in the International Waters projects of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project helps strengthen priority setting, knowledge sharing, and results-based adaptive management in current and future projects. UNU-INWEH organised two meetings on this project at UNESCO in 2010 and 2011.

    UNU-IAS/UNESCO Visiting Professorship on Water and Cultural Diversity

    In October 2010, the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) initiated the UNU-IAS/UNESCO Visiting Professorship on Water and Cultural Diversity. The professorship was hosted by UNU-IAS as part of the Traditional Knowledge Initiative’s Water Project and the UNESCO-IHP (International Hydrological Programme) project on Water and Cultural Diversity. The aim of the first professorship was to respond to an international call for further research in the areas of water and cultural diversity. This included investigating how cultural diversity can be integrated into sustainable water resource management and successful water policies. The second incumbent was tasked with providing concrete advice on the importance of links between water, cultural diversity, traditional knowledge, and global environmental changes, and how these can be better recognized in water management and policies.

    Cooperation with the Social and Human Sciences Sector

    West Africa Institute for International Research on Regional Integration and Social Transformations in Cape Verde

    Cooperation exists between UNESCO and the UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) within the framework of the West Africa Institute for International Research on Regional Integration and Social Transformations in Cape Verde (category 2 institute) to study regional integration in West Africa. An institutional partnership concluded between the Social and Human Sciences Sector and UNU-CRIS is ongoing and UNU-CRIS has been invited as a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute.


    Strong cooperation has been established between UNESCO and the UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) on regional integration, migration and the free movement of people. A UNESCO-UNU Chair has been created at UNU-CRIS in Bruges that conducts research and organises events related to the links between regional integration and migration in cooperation with the University of Pretoria (South Africa). The Chair focuses in particular on i) regional integration and policy-making from a social point of view; and ii) migration and the free movement of people. These two interlinked challenges are researched initially in the context of an African and European Union comparative analysis.

    Cooperation with the Communication and Information Sector

    UNESCO Open Training Platform

    Collaboration with the UNESCO Open Training Platform offering 21 development topics, which UNU joined in May 2008, will continue. The objective behind this platform is to empower trainers and/or trainees with free resources, offer them a structured collaborative space to share their training but also to promote and value the ‘open’ training materials, which are freely and openly accessible for trainers and self-learners to use and re-use for non-commercial purposes such as teaching, learning and research.

    Cooperation with the External Relations and Public Information Sector

    The External Relations and Public Information Sector of UNESCO provides regular logistics support to the UNU Office in Paris and assists in publicising its public information events.

    UNU Press titles sold at UNESCO Bookshop

    UNU Press, through the UNU Office in Paris, collaborates with the UNESCO Division of Public Information, which has agreed to sell UNU publications at the UNESCO bookshop. In view of its initial success, this scheme, which started in December 2010 with a selection of three of UNU’s best-selling titles, continued in 2011 with the addition of ten other books.

    UNU Press, on its side, has been selling UNESCO publications since 2009.

    Cooperation with the Bureau of Strategic Planning

    Foresight User Guide

    During the past few years, interest in Foresight has increased exponentially as organisations need to better anticipate uncertainties and cope with complex challenges. However, this interest did not always go hand in hand with a clear knowledge of what Foresight methodologies can do for international organisations such as UNESCO. This is the reason behind the decision of the UNU Office in Paris to draw up a Foresight User Guide, in close collaboration with the Bureau of Strategic Planning (BSP) at UNESCO. It has two objectives: to make Foresight more attractive to potential UNESCO practitioners and to build a methodological base aimed at producing good results in terms of quantity and quality. The Foresight User Guide is the starting point for further cooperation between the UNU Office in Paris and BSP, especially through joint events, seminars and publications.


    United Nations University office at UNESCO
    c/o UNESCO Bureau 7B 4.06
    1 rue Miollis
    75732 Paris Cedex 15