7 July 2011

Opening Remarks by H. E. Mrs Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO


Distinguished Colleagues, Mr President of the General Conference, Madam Director-General, Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, let me remind you that I recently signed a letter to the Vice-Chairpersons of the Executive Board initiating wide consultations on the draft provisional agenda and draft provisional timetable of work of the 187th Board session, the last of the current biennium and essentially devoted to the preparation of the ensuing 36th session of the General Conference. In view of the relatively short time frame left before the official dispatch of documents, I would greatly welcome your suggestions on this issue by the end of this month. May I also recall once again my encouragements to you from our last session “to pursue consultations among ourselves and with the Secretariat during this intersession period, in order to come up for the two forthcoming important official meetings – Executive Board and General Conference sessions – with more business-oriented attitudes and less time-consuming exercises, such as the duplication between the debates and drafting”. Let us remain good managers of our own time, energies, health and money. I thank you all in advance for your positive consideration and supportive cooperation. Now, dear colleagues, I feel it necessary and worthwhile to briefly inform you on the background of developments and my subsequent final choice with regard to the thematic debate, traditionally held once a year in the framework of Board sessions, in accordance with Decision 175EX/23. As you may know, at the beginning of the year I initially considered, in consultation with the Vice-Chairpersons, devoting the second thematic debate of the biennium to the field of “Science, Technology and Innovation for Future Development”, with possible special focus on the potential innovative applications of solar energy for the African continent. To this end, I solicited the assistance of the Science Sector but, due to a series of misunderstandings, preparations for the thematic debate were delayed to a point where I felt that it would be too late to organize it in the best possible conditions. And since I was informed subsequently by the Sector on the fact that Director-General wishes to organise a High Panel on Science and Development on 15-16 September 2011 next, I also felt that, such a thematic debate might be considered as a duplication of the High Panel event. Consequently, without wanting to consider the High Panel on Science and Development as a substitute, I recently suggested to the Director-General that she convey a special invitation to all Member States to participate in the aforementioned meeting. I trust that this would appease any misgivings that we as Board members may have regarding the cancellation of our own thematic debate on the same topic, which could potentially be considered by the Board at one of its future sessions. Another matter on which we had some discussions at the end of the 186th session, and on which we envisaged to pursue consultations with the Director-General, is the suggested Plenary Ministerial Forum to be organized during the forthcoming session of the General Conference. I believe that, in the light of recent exchanges on that matter between Delegations and the Secretariat, the Director-General will make her proposals to the Board regarding the theme of the Ministerial Forum, as well as its rationale, structure and purpose. In my view, and as agreed at our last session, this information meeting could also be an occasion for us to question the DG on two other proposed parallel events: the Parliamentary Forum and the Youth Forum of the General Conference. Dear colleagues, as you know less then ten days ago ended the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee, which took place at UNESCO Headquarters due to the prevailing situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain. As Chairperson of the Executive Board, and on behalf of all Board Members, I would like to express our sincere gratitude both to the Bahraini authorities and UNESCO Secretariat for the excellent preparation of work of this exceptional event and for their continuous efforts towards the reinforcement of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. As Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation, I am deeply thankful to the distinguished Committee Members for having “elected” my country to host its next session in 2012 in the beautiful city of Saint-Petersburg, which is honoured and proud, together with Russia and its people, to welcome the delegates of the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. And now I am pleased to give the floor to the Director-General.