UNESCO is set to receive much needed additional funding for its education, cultural and science-based projects in developing countries.
The contribution, worth approximately $20 million, will come from Norway. It will be disbursed in the next two years as part of the Program Cooperation Agreement that UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Norway Deputy Ministry for International Development Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil are set to sign Oct. 11 at the agency’s headquarters in Paris, France.
Priority sectors to be supported using the extrabudgetary contribution include education, the protection of intangible cultural heritage, protection of oceans and coastal zones, and media development, particularly freedom of expression and support for free and independent media.
According to the agreement, UNESCO will spend the money on these sectors by supporting national development plans in countries where it is present. The agreement also calls on the agency to help coordinate international development efforts, particularly those involving U.N. institutions.
Norway’s contribution will give UNESCO’s budget a badly needed boost after losing some $60 million worth of U.S. contributions in 2011. The United States, as stipulated by its laws, deferred payment of its regular contribution to the UNESCO after the agency accepted the Palestinian Authority as a full-pledged member.
At the time, Bokova herself acknowledged that losing the U.S. funding put the agency in a “difficult situation.” To help address the budget gap, she initiated a special fundraising initiative open to member states as well as public institutions, foundations and individuals.
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