Multilateral Aid Review summary - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

UNESCO is a forum for the negotiation of global agreements, a facility for policy exchanges and capacity building, and a centre for standard-setting and monitoring in education, natural sciences, social sciences, culture and communication and information.



Contribution to UK development objectives


_ Despite its importance to some government departments, UNESCO’s significant under-performance in leadership means it is rarely critical in education and development.
+ UNESCO performs an important role in education policy and reporting.  It fills critical gaps in science and culture.
_ It has poor systems and is unable to identify its results.
_ Has performed a useful post-disaster role in education planning and protecting cultural heritage, but needs clearer policies and attention to needs in fragile states.
+ UNESCO has an extensive range of policy and institutional actions on gender and climate change.
_ It could do more to lead the debate on girls’ education.
_ More work is needed on its own carbon footprint.

Organisational strengths

_ UNESCO has achieved efficiency savings, but administration costs remain high. Insufficient attention paid to transaction costs.
+ Some good partnership behaviour is recognised. NGO involvement at local level is a constitutional requirement.
_ Some tensions with other UN agencies. Work in some sectors is not as broad based as necessary.
_ UNESCO’s results framework is poor, the programme information system is complicated and inadequate attention is paid to results in programming decisions.
_ The Executive Board is cumbersome.
_ Substantial room for improved financial resource management, in particular to address poor allocation mechanisms and inadequate management of poorly performing programmes.
+ Its audits are high quality and it is implementing IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards).
+ It has an Ethics Office and broad partner involvement.

Capacity for positive change

_ The Executive Board is cumbersome. A new senior team is setting the right direction but this will likely be diminished by Member States and the Executive Board.
+ An Independent External Evaluation was carried out in 2010 and recommendations for follow-up will be presented to the Executive
Board in May 2011.
Last updated: 03 Oct 2011