UN University programmes in Iceland restructured under new UNESCO umbrella

UNU GTP Group Picture with fellows & students at WGC2015 (source: UNU-GTP)
Alexander Richter 26 Sep 2019

Following strategic realignments as part of the UN's University set up, the four training programmes operated under the UNU umbrella in Iceland, including the Geothermal Training Programme are now being restructured under an umbrella of UNESCO guaranteeing their continued operation.

With rumours floating for some time, it now seems a decision is made on what happens to the United Nationsl University training programs that have been operating for years in Iceland.

An International Center for Capacity Development will become the new headquarters of the four schools in Iceland, as reported by The schools hosted in Iceland are the UNU Geothermal Training Program (GTP), the UNU Fisheries Training Program (UNU_FTP), the UNU Land Restoration Training Programme (UNU-LRT), and the UNU Gender Equality Studies and Training Program (UNU-GEST).

As everything indicates at this point, with the beginning of the year, the schools are going to be operating under the umbrella of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) but negotiations between UNESCO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are final. It is planned to establish a center under the auspices of the Ministry which does not cooperate with and operate under the auspices of the UNESCO, such as the Vigdís Institute – the International Center for Languages ??and Culture.

The schools will continue to be operated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of Iceland’s international development cooperation.

“Both the ministry and the schools see exciting opportunities in this new partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. There is a great deal of knowledge at UNESCO in these four areas of specialization that their schools have, as well as the partnership offers a variety of opportunities in communicating with the Agency to promote the schools in pursuit of world goals and sustainable development. The Vigdis Finnbogadottir Institute has been a lever for linguistics both here and abroad and I expect this will be the case with this new institution for international development cooperation as well, ”says Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson.

The change of accommodation will not affect the role of the schools and will not interfere with their activities. The four schools, the Geothermal School, the Fisheries School, the Land Recovery School and the Equality School, continue to increase the capabilities of individuals and institutions in developing countries, each in their own field. They will also continue to be hosted in collaboration with the relevant academic institutes, the National Energy Authority, the Marine Research Institute, the Agricultural University and the University of Iceland.

As is well known each year, experts from developing countries bring together five or six months of specialized study in Iceland, as well as shorter courses in developing countries under the auspices of the schools. In addition, graduates from all schools are offered the opportunity to apply for a master’s or doctoral degree in Iceland.

Since 1979, when the Geothermal School was established, more than 1330 experts from more than 100 developing countries have graduated from the schools and a third have attended courses on their behalf in partner countries. After years of successful cooperation, however, the UN representative, the school administrators and the Foreign Ministry on behalf of the government concluded that their activities would be better under the umbrella of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The new arrangement is expected to take effect as of 1 January 2020.

This article is part of the co-operation of Vísir and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in disseminating news of Iceland’s development cooperation around the world. The news first appeared in the World Light, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ information source on development and humanitarian issues.

Source: Icelandic publication