Sweden commits additional $48 million to UNESCO to reinforce strategic partnership

UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, and the Permanent Delegate of Sweden to UNESCO, Ambassador Annika Markovic, on 10 July signed a Programme Cooperation Agreement (PCA) whereby Sweden will allot 430 million Swedish Kronor, approximately US$48 million, over a four-year period, beyond its regular contribution to the Organization’s budget.

In total, including support given to UNESCO’s country initiatives, Sweden has pledged close to US$100 million in voluntary contributions to the Organization’s programmes, an unprecedented amount.

With the new strategic agreement targeting key areas including education, freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, promoting fundamental freedoms and diversity of cultural expressions and the collection of data, Sweden becomes the largest donor to UNESCO’s core programmes.

The PCA is unprecedented in that it grants UNESCO’s Education Sector the equivalent of US$35 million in multi-year flexible funding support to achieve its expected results under UNESCO’s Programme and Budget 2018-2021 thereby strengthening UNESCO’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda. Sweden’s support to UNESCO’s work for freedom of expression offers a similar level of flexibility, reflecting a high-level of trust in the Organization and designed to set an important precedent for other donors.

“In difficult times, it is important not only to protect human rights but to promote them proactively”, declared Ambassador Markovic during the signing of the agreement. “And Sweden considers UNESCO to be an important global voice for human rights in its fields of competence”, she added.

Anders Rönquist, Head of the Multilateral Unit at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) declared that “this agreement is a confirmation of a longstanding collaboration between Sweden and UNESCO. We have seen commitment to reform and improvements in UNESCO’s programme delivery over recent years and welcome the newly adopted results framework.”

“I am deeply grateful to Sweden for its outstanding support and trust in the Organization,” said the Director-General of UNESCO. “I am delighted to see it seal a constructive and positive evaluation and it testifies to Sweden’s great confidence in UNESCO.”

This new extrabudgetary support from Sweden builds on the country’s recent organizational assessment of UNESCO and the new Swedish strategy for cooperation with UNESCO, which shows the importance and relevance of UNESCO’s normative function and recognizes the uniqueness of its mandate.