Australia’s National Statement to the 42nd Session of the UNESCO General Conference

  • Speech

Madam President

Madam Chair of the Executive Board

Madam Director-General

Distinguished Delegates

May I join with others in warmly congratulating you, Madam President, on your election to this important post, and assure you of Australia's support as you steer the work of our Conference. May I also congratulate you, Madam Director-General, for your on-going leadership of the Organization.

As an international community we are witnessing conflict in far too many places around the world. We are confronting global pressures such as climate change, and health and food insecurity.

In this context, it would be easy to lose sight of the importance of UNESCO's work on international cooperation through education, sciences, culture and information. However, cooperation in these fields can be of enormous value in the pursuit of peace and security.

It is therefore vital that all Member States continue to play their part and make their voices heard in supporting the work of our Organization.

Australia continues to contribute to all of UNESCO's pillars.

On Education, we maintain our longstanding involvement in the development of the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications though early ratification and active engagement in its implementation.

Like UNESCO, we are deeply committed to supporting education,  particularly the education of women and girls, whose development is – the evidence shows us – so critical to the broader success of any society.

Reflecting the importance of First Nations peoples and their cultures to our national identity, we have been closely engaged on the Global Taskforce for Indigenous Languages, representing the Asia-Pacific Group (ASPAC).

Elsewhere we are active in the Creative Cities Networks, with seven Australian cities now proud to be part of this growing family of world centres of creativity.

Australia's deep commitment to the aims and values of the World Heritage Convention is well recognised by our fellow Member States that have honoured us by electing Australia to the World Heritage Committee five times, most recently from 2017 to 2021.

Australia's expertise to Oceans' science is also well known and our on-going commitment is reflected in our longstanding participation and membership of the Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

In September of this year, Australia hosted the 11th meeting of the World Network of Island and Costal Biosphere Reserves.

And we have actively contributed to the negotiations on the Recommendations on Open Science and the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

We continue to work with fellow Member States on issues of common interest, including as members of the Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists to ensure that the vital work of journalists in the protection of the fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and access to information is defended.

And in the Group of Friends of Ukraine we have supported UNESCO in matters relating to the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in areas of UNESCO's competence.

In short, we are proud of our work with UNESCO, as a founding member and signatory to many conventions, and in our service in UNESCO bodies over the decades.

But we recognise that the pressures on the multilateral system are immense. We must all step up to do even more to protect the international system and help it evolve to meet the challenges of today and those of the future.

Australia's nomination to the Executive Board 2023 – 2027 reflects our determination to do so.

We have experience, knowledge and unique perspectives to offer.

Australia is home to people from all nations of the world. Our diversity connects us to every corner of the globe.

And we draw on the knowledge and expertise of Australia's First Peoples carrying forward the oldest continuing culture on earth.

We are committed to addressing climate change in Australia, and beyond, recognising the impacts on culture and the environment, as well as on people and economies. We are helping to protect World Heritage-listed sites globally, including Australia's World Heritage listed Reefs and Rainforests and the extraordinary biodiversity they support.

We are supporting Small Island and Blue Pacific countries – the nations most-threatened by climate change – in their advocacy to address this existential issue.

Australia has always been an advocate for the interests of small and medium countries. We have always believed that the small and medium countries of the world, including Australia, must work together.

This is reflected in so much of our work, including with Small Island Developing States, as well as Priority Africa, in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the SDGs.

We need global solutions to solve our global problems.

Australia is committed to working with you all in developing these solutions. Solutions where, education, science, culture and communication come together to build knowledge and shared understanding.

Where we realise that we have more in common with each other than we have differences.

It is only through this realisation and understanding that we will find the peace for which UNESCO stands.

Thank you

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