December 9, 2011 Bruges
The Council of the United Nations University convened its 58th session in Bruges, Belgium, from 28 November through 1 December.
The Council, the governing board that formulates the principles and policies which guide the activities and operations of UNU, comprises 24 appointed members as well as the UNU Rector and three ex-officio members (the United Nations Secretary-General, the UNESCO Director-General and the UNITAR Executive Director).
On day one of its three-and-a-half-day session, the Council heard and discussed the Rector’s annual “State of the University” report, the financial overview of the University, and the UNU Academic Programme and Budget Estimates for the 2012–2013 biennium. The Council also considered a range of strategic issues, including developments regarding implementation of the “twin institute” concept, ongoing and new initiatives, and the UNU postgraduate programme.
The Vice-Rector in Europe/Director of UNU-EHS and the Director of UNU-INRA, co-leaders of the UNU Africa Roadmap Initiative, presented a progress report on the implementation of the “Roadmap for UNU’s Focus on Africa”. The Directors of UNU-WIDER, UNU-CRIS and UNU-EHS also reported on the status of implementation of the recommendations of those institutes’ evaluation reports. Recent developments regarding establishment of UNU International Institute on the Alliance of Civilizations (UNU-IIAOC) in Barcelona, Spain, and the UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) in Dresden, Germany, and Maputo, Mozambique were presented by the Director of UNU-CRIS and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Programme (UNW-DPC).
An evening a reception at the premises of UNU-CRIS, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, provided an opportunity for the Council members to interact with UNU-CRIS staff.
Day two of the Council session was devoted to committee meetings that focused on the operation and activities of the UNU institutes and programmes, and on general financial and administrative issues, including the budget estimates for the 2012–13 biennium.
Day three consisted of a joint session by members of the two academic programme committees to discuss the outcomes of the previous day’s meetings; discussions focused on implementation of the postgraduate programme and twin institute concept. In the afternoon, the Council resumed in plenary session where reports from the academic committees were presented.
In the evening, Council members attended a reception sponsored by the Flemish Government and the Province of West-Flanders, held in the Provinciaal Hof. A representative of the Flemish Government took the opportunity to reassert the Government′s support of UNU-CRIS by announcing an increase in the level of funding to made available for the institute’s operation from 2012.
On the final day, the Council heard and discussed the committee report on finance and administration, then conducted a variety of business, including approving a range of draft resolutions. The Council also elected Professor Mohamed Hassan as Chair of the Council for 2012.
On the morning of the final day, the representative of the Secretary-General presented the main priorities for the second term of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with a focus on the Millennium Development Goals post-2015. Senator Cristovam Buarque announced that the Government of Brazil intends to establish a twin institute of UNU-IAS in Rio de Janeiro. According to Senator Buarque, the Ministry of State for Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil has expressed interest in pursuing discussions regarding establishment of the proposed twin institute and referred to a possible funding of US$ 30 million over a period of ten years. The twin institute would be conceived as a tangible outcome of the Rio+20 process. The Council welcomed the news and expressed its appreciation to the Brazilian authorities.
In the afternoon, UNU-CRIS staff organized a seminar to present the work and activities of the institute, then conducted a guided visit of the old city of Bruges.
The 58th session of the Council was also an occasion for Council Members to carry out a process set out in the UNU Charter for the appointment of the UNU Rector by the UN Secretary-General after consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Director-General of UNESCO. The process is followed every five years, whether or not the incumbent rector is standing for a second term (as is the case in 2011).
The Council reviewed a draft panel of names for the Rectorship put forward by a nominating committee established at the 57th session of the UNU Council in 2010, and in closed sessions considered and approved a panel of names for transmission to the appointing authorities. It is now up to the UN Secretary-General and the Director-General of UNESCO to appoint a person to serve as Rector from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2017.
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On 30 November, regional television Focus-WTV in Bruges broadcast a 96-second segment focusing on UNU-CRIS and the 58th session of the UNU Council. The broadcast (in Dutch) includes interviews with UNU-CRIS Director Luk Van Langenhove and UNU Council Chair Juan Ramón de la Fuente.