The Flemish Commission for UNESCO was founded by the Flemish government on 14 February 2003. Flanders therefore has its own body that can advise the Flemish government about UNESCO’s fields of expertise and promote collaboration between Flanders and UNESCO.
The main tasks of the Flemish Commission for UNESCO are:
- Rallying civil society (in particular intellectual and professional circles and the main cultural, scientific and educational institutions) around UNESCO’s activities by:
- acting as a bridge between UNESCO and the Flemish community
- informing the public about UNESCO’s values
- inspiring and developing actions within the framework of UNESCO goals.
- Issuing opinions – at the request of the ministers concerned or at its own initiative – on UNESCO matters concerning:
- the Flemish government and political decision-makers,
- the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.The Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs finances the Flemish Commission for UNESCO and appoints its General Secretary. The links between the two partners are made formal by a cooperation agreement.
To carry out its tasks, the commission can count on the expertise and enthusiasm of its members: twelve members take decisions and seven other members act in an advisory capacity. Appointed by the Flemish government, the members provide their expertise in one or more of UNESCO’s fields of action: education, science, culture and communication. Members with a right to make decisions and those who act in an advisory capacity are appointed by the Flemish government for a six-year mandate, renewable once.
The Flemish Commission and the Belgian French-speaking and German-speaking Commission for UNESCO both work towards the fulfilment of UNESCO’s mission, with the purpose of promoting a culture of peace throughout the world. The actions undertaken by the Belgian commissions for UNESCO focus in particular on fighting poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue. Education, science, culture, communication and information are the instruments employed for this purpose.
The Flemish commission for UNESCO entered two cross-disciplinary themes in its 2017-2022 work agenda that serve as guidelines:
- The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. These goals form the United Nations’ new global agenda and by 2030 must improve the living conditions of as many people as possible.
- Crisis and transition. With this theme, the Flemish Commission wants to contribute to reconstruction in countries in transition, focusing in particular on support to access to quality education, the protection of cultural expressions and cultural property and the promotion of freedom of expression.