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11 December 2016 - UNESCO and UNICEF support High-Level National Consultation Meeting on SDG4

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On 11 December 2016, the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the UNICEF Country Office in Iran and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO jointly organized a High-Level National Consultation Meeting on Sustainable Development Goal 4 at the Talash Complex in Tehran.

The meeting brought together representatives from various ministries, government agencies and institutions, UN agencies, civil society organizations, research institutes and academia, as well as the private sector.

This high-level meeting was organized to provide an overview of the SDG 4 – Education 2030 agenda to stakeholders, launch the Draft Education 2030 National Document, and to discuss the implementation of SDG 4 (“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”) in Iran.

The meeting was formally opened by Dr. Sadollah Nasiri Gheydari, Secretary General, NatCom Iran; Ms. Esther Kuisch-Laroche, Director and Representative, UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office; Ms. Christine Weigand, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Country Office in Iran; Dr. Mohammad Farhadi, Minister of Science, Research and Technology and Chairman of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO; Dr. Fakhroddin Ahmadi Danesh Ashtiyani, Minister of Education; Dr. Shahindokht  Mollaverdi , Vice President for Women and Family Affairs; Dr. Mohammad Amin Sazgarnejad, Deputy Minister of Labour, Cooperatives and Social Welfare and Dr. Iraj Harirchi, Deputy Minister of Health and Medical Education.

In her remarks, Ms. Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of UNESCO, highlighted the importance of localizing the global SDG 4 targets through cooperation and partnerships at all levels.

“As we know, translating the SD G4 targets into national priorities is an immense undertaking that requires adapting the global targets to national priorities and the local context and incorporating them into National Development Plans, financing and monitoring processes,” said Ms. Kuisch Laroche. “All stakeholders – government, civil society, academia, the private sector, local communities – will need to be mobilized and engaged to contribute to its implementation. This is why I am very pleased to see so many partners represented here today.”

Ms. Christine Weigand, Deputy Representative of UNICEF, echoed Ms. Kuisch Laroche’s sentiments in her speech and underscored the role of coordination in providing inclusive and equitable quality education for all children. “These groups of children, who are, as we say, ‘out of school’, have been left behind in the global progress towards achieving universal education. Yet these are the children who need our support the most. Helping them access and complete their education requires the collaboration of many different actors. The key to success is the joint and coordinated cooperation of all stakeholders, including different government ministries, academia, civil society and the private sector.”, said Ms. Weigand.

Dr. Farhadi, Minister of Science, Research and Technology and Chairman of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, talked about the work that has been undertaken over the past year by several working groups to draft the National Education 2030 document.

Dr. Ahmadi Danesh Ashtiyani, Minister of Education, talked about the progress made in Education since the revolution and the remaining challenges on the road towards the achievement of SDG 4. He thanked UNESCO for its efforts and support to the Islamic Republic of Iran in this regard.

Dr. Amin Sazgarnejad, Deputy Minister of Labour, Cooperatives and Social Welfare, spoke about youth unemployment and the fact that many young people with higher education qualifications do not possess the skills that are relevant for the labour market. He stressed the importance of paying more attention to technical and vocational education and training to address this issue.

Dr. Iraj Harirchi, Deputy Minister of Health and Medical Education, mentioned that non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, high blood pressure) are very much linked to people’s lifestyles and that health education could play an important role in dealing with non-communicable diseases which are responsible for more than 75% of deaths worldwide.

Dr. Mollaverdi, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, underlined the importance of gender equality and equity in Education and pointed out that scientific research around the world has shown the transformational impact of girls’ education on issues such as health, literacy and sustainable economic development.

The full-day event featured a panel discussion covering topics on national policies, plans and strategies that are relevant to Education and SDG 4, education finance, the implications of SDG 4 on scientific research, and access to education for marginalized and vulnerable communities.

Ms. Maki Hayashikawa, Chief of the Section for Inclusive Quality Education of UNESCO Bangkok and Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator of SDG 4 – Education 2030 gave a regional overview of SDG 4 implementation in the Asia-Pacific. Ms. Hayashikawa also talked about how UNESCO can support its Member States in the operationalization of the Education 2030 agenda.

Three parallel panel sessions were held in the afternoon to provide specialized task groups a platform to discuss key issues and challenges around Basic and Secondary Education (Targets 4.2, 4.6 and 4.7); Higher, Technical and Vocational, Skills and Entrepreneurship Education (Targets 4.3, 4.4 and 4.7), and; Effective Factors in Implementing SDG 4 (Targets 4.a, 4.b and 4.c). Following the breakout sessions, the panel chairpersons reported back to the plenary and shared the main outcomes of their discussions.

At the closing session, Dr. Ali Allahyar, Head of General Education and TVET Affairs of the Management and Planning Organization, delivered a presentation on the way forward for the national implementation of SDG 4, with a focus on SDG 4 indicators.

To conclude the consultation meeting, Dr. Mohebhosseini of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO presented the Draft Education 2030 National Document, which consolidates the inputs of 30 thematic working groups convened to develop a roadmap for the national implementation of SDG 4 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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11 December 2016 - UNESCO and UNICEF jointly launch the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report in Iran

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On 11 December 2016, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the UNICEF Country Office in Iran, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO co-organized the national launch of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring or GEM Report, with the theme Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all. The event was hosted by the Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University in Tehran.

The national launch was attended by policy makers and decision makers from the Ministry of Education and the Literacy Movement Organization, as well as representatives from UN agencies, international organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector.

The launch event was formally opened by Dr. Ali Zarafshan, Vice-Minister for Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education, who highlighted the key findings of the report relevant to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Dr. Zarafshan also commended UNESCO and its partners for organizing a training workshop on Education statistics the previous week which sought to build the capacity of the country in monitoring and reporting its progress against SDG 4.

Dr. Sadollah Nasiri Gheydari, Secretary-General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluation in achieving SDG4 and its targets and urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to place particular focus on this key aspect of the SDG4 – Education 2030 agenda. Dr. Nasiri explained that the 2016 GEM Report is published annually by UNESCO to help Member States gauge their performance in meeting their commitments to provide inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all.

“The 2016 GEM Report shows that education has huge potential to achieve progress towards all the global development goals, but needs a major rethink if it is to live up to those expectations,” said Ms. Mary Anne Therese Manuson, Education Consultant of UNESCO Tehran, delivering opening remarks on behalf of Director Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche. “For starters, the world needs an urgent break with past trends to avoid the world being half a century late in achieving its global education commitments.  But education systems also need a rethink. They must look to do more than just transfer knowledge; they must ensure they give people vital skills and knowledge that can support the transition to greener industries, and find new solutions for environmental problems”. 

In her remarks, Ms. Christine Weigand, Deputy Representative of the UNICEF Country Office in Iran, highlighted the plight of out-of-school children in the country and shared some of the recommendations developed by UNICEF to promote their inclusion in the education system. Ms. Weigand reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to support the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in its efforts to reach its national priorities in providing inclusive quality education to all children.

Dr. Saeed Olyaee, Vice-President for Research and Technology of the Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University (SRTTU), warmly welcomed all participants to their university and presented a short video documenting SRTTU’s strong partnership with UNESCO Tehran and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO.

The 2016 GEM Report is the first report in a newly mandated fifteen-year series. Formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR), the GEM Report is an editorially independent, authoritative, and evidence-based annual report, published by UNESCO. Drawing on a well-tested model and twelve reports produced since 2002, the GEM Report has a new mandate to monitor progress towards SDG4 on inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning, its 10 detailed targets, as well as other SDG targets with a clear education dimension.

As part of the launch event, a short workshop was conducted by Ms. Maki Hayashikawa, Chief of the Section for Inclusive Quality Education of UNESCO Bangkok and Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator of SDG4 – Education 2030 to introduce the new Education goal, the vision on which it is based, and the Education 2030 Framework for Action that serves as guidance for its implementation.

Ms. Hayashikawa also provided a regional overview of SDG4 implementation in the Asia-Pacific and discussed what type of technical support UNESCO offers its Member States to advance the Education 2030 agenda.

Cognizant of the importance of robust education data and statistics in monitoring progress against SDG4, Ms. Hayashikawa’s workshop was complemented by a presentation from Mr. Shailendra Sigdel, Statistical Advisor for South Asia of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, on the importance of education data collection, analysis and reporting within the framework of SDG4 – Education 2030 national implementation.

Following these presentations focused on SDG4, the national launch featured a presentation of the Report’s key findings and recommendations related to ‘Education for people and planet’, which was given by Ms. Mary Anne Therese Manuson of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office.

To discuss and debate the GEM Report analyses, findings and recommendations, a panel discussion was organized with significant relevant speakers from a cross-spread of different sectors, including representatives from the Ministry of Education, CSOs and the private sector. The panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Sara Yasan, Education Specialist of the UNICEF Country Office in Iran. The vibrant discussion tackled a number of key issues around the implementation of the broad SDG agenda in Iran, including existing policies and programmes that support vulnerable and marginalized populations; how education should transform in order to address pressing environmental, social and economic concerns; what steps the education sector must take to ensure skills are better aligned to what is needed in the workforce, and how data can be used to address issues of equity and ensure no one is left behind.

Dr. Mohadeseh Mohebhosseini of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO closed the launch event by thanking all participants for their presence and active participation.

The National Launch of the 2016 GEM Report capped a week-long series of events organized to support the operationalization of the SDG4 – Education 2030 agenda in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Earlier in the month, a four-day Sub-Regional Training Workshop on Education Statistics and a High-Level National Consultation Meeting on SDG4 were co-organized by the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the UNICEF Country Office in Iran, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO and other key national partners.

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10 December 2016 - UNESCO participates in first International Conference on Women and Urban Life

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On 10 December 2016, UNESCO participated in the International Conference on Women and Urban Life, held in Tehran’s iconic Milad Tower.

The conference, organized by the Office of the Vice-President of Women and Family Affairs and the Tehran Urban Planning and Research Center brought together a large number of national and international participants, and covered ten broad themes: Public Places & Urban Vitality; Family & Urban Health; Social Capitals & Sustainable Development; Social Safety & Vulnerability of Urban Life; Education & Citizenship Rights; Urban Management & Planning; Empowerment & Social Justice; Urban Culture & Novel Communicative Technology; Environmental & Behavioral Considerations; and Ecological Environment & Urban Life.

Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, delivered a keynote speech in the opening session of the conference and highlighted the importance of addressing these urban challenges. “Today, cities are home to more than half of humanity, with urbanization set to continue as a significant trend over the next fifty years. Two out of three people are expected to live in cities by the year 2050”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.

The UNESCO Representative said that UNESCO was committed to enhancing the sustainability of cities through policy advice, technical assistance and capacity-building, drawing on its longstanding normative and operational experience in the fields of Education, Sciences, Culture and Communication & Information.

In this regard, she talked about some of UNESCO’s initiatives related to cities. “In May 2016, UNESCO launched an initiative with the M.V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and the European Coalition of Cities against Racism called ‘Welcoming Cities for Refugees and Migrants: Promoting Inclusion and Protecting Rights’. This project aims to empower municipals authorities and local governments to promote the integration of refugees and migrants in their cities, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable women and girls”, said the UNESCO Representative.

She went on to talk about UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR), which seeks to foster inclusion, diversity and non-discrimination in cities. “At UNESCO we believe that it is crucial for cities to promote the rights and inclusion of all citizens, both women and men, from all backgrounds, facilitating access to decent jobs, encouraging full participation in cultural, civic and political life and ensuring the equitable provision of quality public services”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.

She further mentioned that Yazd and Tehran are both members of the Asia-Pacific Coalition of Cities against Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific – a regional coalition, which is led by the city of Auckland in New Zealand.

Finally, Ms. Kuisch Laroche discussed UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, which was created in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development, and emphasized the important role that women could play in that regard. She said: “In Iran, the cities of Rasht and Isfahan are both part of the Creative Cities Network. These cities have decided to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans”.  

After the opening ceremony, there were a number of afternoon panel discussions in which Iranian and foreign guests made presentations on different topics related to the core themes of the conference.

For more information about this event, please see: http://www.wulconf.com/Congress/UIPanel

 

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6 December 2016 - UNESCO organizes 3-day consultative meeting on development of a national sustainable tourism strategy in I.R. Iran

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UNESCO and the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) embarked on a three-day consultative meeting to discuss the development of a national sustainable tourism strategy for Iran.

The meeting brought together national tourism experts from ICHHTO, the private sector and NGOs to discuss issues ranging from tourism planning, destination management, marketing and branding, public-private partnerships, product development, to local community involvement.

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has made the boosting of its tourism industry a key priority. As part of the country’s 20-year vision, Iran is hoping to attract 20 million tourists per year by the year 2025, generating an estimated US$ 25- US$ 30 billion in revenues.

During her opening remarks, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office said: “Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and is a major source of income for many countries around the world. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also provides a significant number of jobs, which have helped to revitalize many local economies.”

The UNESCO Representative stressed the important tourism potential that exists in Iran and talked about the 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the rich cultural diversity of Iran, which is also reflected in its intangible cultural heritage.

“World Heritage Sites have become important travel destinations around the world that- if managed properly- can have great potential impact for local economic development and long-term sustainability”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche. “At UNESCO we believe that World Heritage and tourism stakeholders both share a joint responsibility for the conservation of our common cultural and natural heritage and for sustainable development through appropriate tourism management.”

She talked about UNESCO’s World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme, which aims to integrate planning for tourism and heritage management at the destination level and ensure that the natural and cultural assets are valued and protected.

The consultative meeting is being facilitated by Ms. Dominique Verdugo – a renowned tourism development expert from France- and will cover not only cultural tourism, but also other types of tourism that Iran would like to further develop, such as eco-tourism, health tourism and religious tourism.

The meeting will last until 8 December and its outcomes will inform the development of Iran’s national strategy for sustainable tourism.

For more information about UNESCO’s World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme, please see: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tourism/

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5 December 2016 - UNESCO and UNICEF jointly organize sub-regional workshop on Education Statistics

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UNESCO and UNICEF kicked-off a four-day sub-regional training workshop on Education Statistics. The workshop, organized in cooperation with the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO and the University of Tehran, brought together participants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

Last month, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office organized a similar training in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The aim of the workshop is to strengthen skills and knowledge in compiling, processing and disseminating quality education data and statistics with a view to better monitor the countries’ progress against SDG 4.

During the opening ceremony of the workshop, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, welcomed the participants and talked about the importance of SDG 4.

“Due to its transformative power, education is key to the success of every one of the 17 new sustainable development goals”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche. “Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together.”

The UNESCO Representative also underlined the critical importance of quality data. “Data is absolutely crucial for countries to be able to develop evidence-based policies in order to address inequalities and ensure quality education and relevant lifelong learning opportunities for all, and also to monitor their progress against the SDG 4 targets and indicators.” 

The UNICEF Representative, Mr. Will Parks, stressed the importance of quality education as a corner stone for sustainable development: “At this very moment that we have gathered here with different educational and career backgrounds and different knowledge and experiences, we all agree on one thing; that quality education is critical to development both of societies and of individuals, and it helps pave the way to a successful and productive future. When all children have access to a quality education, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come. Education regenerates cycles of Welfare and Health and provides a foundation for sustainable development. That is why provision of quality education for all children is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal no. 4 on inclusive and quality education”, said Mr. Parks.

Dr. Nasiri, Secretary-General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, underscored that robust data should form the basis for all planning, programming and policy-making.

The four-day workshop, facilitated by experts from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, will cover a wide range of topics, including: national data collection, processing and dissemination systems in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; the current situation of education achievement in the sub-region; SDG4 and its implications for national education development; strengthening administrative data systems; and the use of household surveys and census to monitor education.

The participants will also discuss existing data gaps and possible solutions and review their countries’ readiness for SDG 4.

This workshop is part of a range of activities that UNESCO and UNICEF will be organizing jointly to support the Islamic Republic of Iran and its neighboring countries in the implementation of the 2030 Education Agenda.

For more information about UNESCO’s global work in support of SDG 4, please see:

http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sdg-goal-4

http://en.unesco.org/education2030-sdg4

 

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3 December 2016 - UNESCO supports International Conference on Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building at University of Tehran

Tehran 3 December 2016- The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office supported the University of Tehran in holding the “International Conference on Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building”. The three-day conference was a joint effort of the University of Tehran, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and UNESCO. Over 200 participants from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan and the United States attended the opening ceremony on the 3rd of December.

Dr. Hamid Pezeshk, Secretary of the Conference, informed the audience in his welcoming remarks that there would be 60 oral presentations during the conference, six round table discussions and 12 thematic workshops.

Dr. Nasiri-Gheidari, Secretary-General of Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, talked about UNESCO’s “environmental family” in Iran, which include three water-related training and research centers under the auspices of UNESCO, two UNESCO Chairs, and 12 Biosphere Reserve sites. He emphasized the need to create greater synergies between the different programs and institutions working in the field of water.

The Director of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Dr. Frens Stoeckal, said that water was at the top of the agenda of the Ministry of Education of Germany and he expressed the hope that the conference would also explore new techniques in water education.

Mr. Rahim Meydani, Deputy Minister of Energy for Water and Wastewater Affairs said: “We should face the reality that we don’t receive much precipitation and 75% of the precipitation falls in only 25% of the country”. He then informed that the Government has envisaged a long-term program to reduce the share of agricultural water to 69% from the present 86%. The Deputy Minister of Energy recalled three main measures of the government to achieve sustainable water resource management: i) restoration and balancing of the groundwater resources, ii) coordination council of major river catchments of the country, and iii) calculating the available renewable water by taking into account the environmental water need. 

The two final keynote speakers of the opening of the Conference were Dr. Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros, Director/Secretary of UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and Prof. Mahmoud Nili-Ahmadabadi, Chancellor of the University of Tehran.

Dr. Jimenez-Cisneros reviewed the evolution of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) since the 1970s and the change from a purely research program to a global scientific intergovernmental programme. She also introduced the HOPE initiative recently developed by UNESCO IHP, which provides free access to an open software platform, and she invited Iran to contribute to this platform.

Dr Nili-Ahmadabadi welcomed all participants of the Conference and mentioned that Tehran University has developed a new vision to become an internationally recognized university. He said that 15 research institutions have been established under the University of Tehran with various universities. And expressed the hope that the new water education institute, recently established with the support of UNESCO at Tehran University, would pave the way for advancing water education across the region.

In the afternoon of the first day of the Conference, UNESCO organized a roundtable discussion on “Water and Media” with the participation of Prof. Jennifer Bowls from the United States and Prof. Elisabeth Miller from Canada.

The conference will continue until 5 December with technical workshops on the Sustainable Development Goals, droughts and water management in arid zones, the role of higher education institutions, groundwater management, transboundary water management, water markets and virtual waters.

UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building. For more information about UNESCO-IHP, please visit here: http://en.unesco.org/themes/water-security/hydrology/water-education

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