The Cook Islands has been elected to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission (IOC) for 2023 – 2025, securing 76 votes out of 115 voting states.
The election of the Cook Islands to the Executive Council took place during the 32nd session of the IOC/UNESCO Assembly held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on Wednesday, 28 June 2023.
The IOC promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve ocean, coasts, and marine resources management. It enables Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science, tsunami warnings, and ocean literacy.
The nominations for the Executive Council were composed of 150 Member States representing five IOC electoral groups, with the Cook Islands part of Group four, and serving through Permanent Delegate and Ambassador to UNESCO since 2017, Dr Nathalie Rossette-Cazel.
In securing a place on the Executive Council, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Tepaeru Herrmann, said: “This is a significant result, not just for the Cook Islands but for our Pacific region and Small Island developing states (SIDS) more broadly.
“It demonstrates that through concerted work by our diplomats and officials, both here on Rarotonga, overseas, and in this case, our sustained and proactive engagement in France with UNESCO via Ambassador Rosette-Cazel, we can make our voice heard and influence key decision-making to support global initiatives that will promote our national development efforts and those of our Pacific neighbours.”
The Cook Islands has many linkages to the work of UNESCO, having been significantly involved in the organisations Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) program and participating and presenting at several expert meetings on Climate Change Education.
Through its partnerships with UNESCO, the Cook Islands has also prioritised the ongoing support of our archives and museums in preserving a number of documents, rare books, and photographs of our islands’ rich historical, cultural, political, and economic histories, while also providing access to valuable Cook Islands collections. UNESCO’s Natural Sciences programmes is also reflected through the Cook Islands work around biodiversity, climate change, and education.
“Looking forward, the Cook Islands will look to enhance existing links with UNESCO and work to strengthen areas to support the intangible aspects of our culture and country,” said MFAI Director of the Oceans, Treaties and Multilateral Division, Sandrina Thondoo.
In achieving those goals and looking more broadly to the Pacific and SIDS in general, the Cook Islands as a member of UNESCO’s Executive Council will strive for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with an emphasis on ensuring that Pacific Islands nations are not left behind. The Cook Islands will join the Executive Council alongside countries Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand.