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The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis

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					Bureau of Public Information

BPI/EPP/2009/PI/60M/04

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The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis
Four interrelated global crises are mutually reinforcing each other: climate change, the energy crisis, the food crisis and the financial and economic crisis. The consequences of these crises for development are likely to be devastating, hence the urgent need to develop effective counterstrategies.
coordination will be ever more vital to ising poverty levels, reduced prospects attaining national development priorities and of attaining internationally agreed the IADGs. development goals (IADGs) and cuts in government spending in the wake of the What can UNESCO do to counteract the economic and financial crisis are some of crisis? the risks threatening developing nations. • Systematic and sustained These countries, often ‘innocent bystanders’ monitoring of budget allocations, in a dynamic largely triggered by ODA flows and extrabudgetary irresponsible behavior in the developed resources to the UN in the spheres countries, will need more multilateral and of competence of UNESCO; NGO or foundation funding. At the same • In case of negative trends, launch time, industrialized countries may earmark global alerts and advocacy as well and allocate fewer funds for overseas as design compelling counterdevelopment aid (ODA). strategies; High-profile commitments made only • Focus on and recently (including the strengthen pledge to double aid critical areas to Africa by 2010) are where in danger of UNESCO can remaining unfulfilled. make a Worldwide, fewer difference, discretionary funds such as: may be allocated for activities in education, © SASI Group and Mark Newman o Advocac the sciences, culture y for EFA and for the and communication and information – both preservation of national nationally and through development budget allocations to assistance. education; o Accelerate education for The Implications for the Multilateral sustainable development; System o Build capacities for operating national Following the G-20 Summit in Washington scientific knowledge last November, the December Doha bases; Statement on Financing Education as well o Promote policy initiatives as the Oslo Declaration by the High-Level and investments in Group on EFA laid an excellent foundation education, science (with for effective global advocacy on the need for an emphasis on the international donor community to innovative technologies), maintain development assistance flows and culture, and to invest its way out of the crisis. communication; However, lower resource prospects and o Strive to preserve growing needs may make it mandatory for resources for culture as a us to concentrate and prioritise our action, critical element of including through a focus on less costly sustainable development initiatives and a reorientation towards and education. cheaper but effective upstream policy The multiple crises call for a moment of initiatives. global reflection and stocktaking. More The UN system, including UNESCO, must focus might have to be put on the demand harness its collective knowledge to share side of development in what is up to now a information and give policy advice that can largely supply-driven system. New initiatives help countries to cope with the crisis. At the will need to include a focus on awarenesscountry-level, effective collaboration with raising and coalition-building. relevant partners and multi-sectoral

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The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis

This information sheet is not an official UNESCO document. It aims to provide the public with information on the occasion of the “60 Minutes” meeting of 27 January 2009 on “The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis”

Responding to the Economic Crisis: the Example of Education
After several years of rapid growth in developing countries, the financial meltdown has ushered in dramatic shifts in the economic landscape, with direct implications for education at all levels and more broadly, for social development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The crisis comes at a time of impressive progress in getting more children into school, with primary school enrolments across sub-Saharan Africa increasing at a much faster rate than in the 1990s. To keep up this momentum, low-income countries face the challenge of expanding access, building more classrooms, training and hiring more teachers and improving the quality of learning at all levels. Sheer demographics point to increased participation and increased demand in primary, secondary and tertiary in several developing regions. But recent history tells us that during past financial crises in Latin America and South Asia, social sectors were hardest hit by spending cuts and child labour increased. The world’s poorest children and youth are most at risk of dropping out of school because of poverty. Both developing country governments and donor countries will be under pressure to reduce, respectively, their social spending and aid budgets. Targeted Advocacy In this context it is fundamental for UNESCO to restate the evidence on the benefits of education as one of the best development investments possible, citing its impact on health, on earning potential, and more broadly on citizenship and democracy. These messages must be heard in fora that are not solely focused on education: in the G8, the G20 and on influential regional and global platforms. One of UNESCO’s roles will be to seek systematically to ensure that governments develop and implement policies that promote inclusion through quality education at all levels, with special schemes to enable access to learning opportunities for the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups. It is equally crucial to push for increased aid flows to education even though donors will be under pressure to reduce their overall aid

The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis

package. According to the World Bank, a 1% drop in donor-country GDP is associated with a 1% drop in aid flows over the 1990-2006 period. But external aid is essential for supporting the expansion of education in low-income countries. It is all the more reason for making it more effective. Setting Priorities Times of crisis call for making choices and setting priorities. The economic crisis has not swept away the knowledge society – on the contrary. Early childhood education, girls’ education, literacy and skills training for youth and adults are foundations for inclusive social and economic development. The development of our new strategy on technical and vocational skills and the next CONFINTEA conference in May come at an opportune time. Rethinking the relationship between skills, work and employability within a lifelong perspective will be crucial for positioning UNESCO in the current crisis. Higher education also is a force for finding solutions to today’s global challenges from hunger to climate change. The world conference on higher education next July will highlight the importance of social responsibility, institutional cooperation and networking to strengthen research and the knowledge base in developing regions. Finally, in the area of education, through its work on quality, curricula, standards, norms, teachers and rights, UNESCO has to respond to the crisis by promoting values such as respect, justice, equity and diversity as foundations of education, and more broadly, for building more sustainable financial and economic systems.

Contacts : Hans D’Orville, ADG/BSP h.dorville@unesco.org Nicholas Burnett, ADG/ED N.burnett@unesco.org

For further information, contact the Bureau of Public Information, BPI UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75007 PARIS, tel. +33 (0)1.45.68.16.81 (16.82) - bpi@unesco.org