Welcome to the 42nd session of the UNESCO General Conference

Blog of Evelyne PARA, UN SI Representative at UNESCO.

The 42nd session of the UNESCO General Conference opened on Tuesday 7 November 2023 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and it will conclude its work on Wednesday 22 November 2023.

The formal ceremony of the Opening Day was marked by three addresses: The speech of the session President, H.E. Ambassador of Brazil Mr Santiago Irazabal Mourao, who chaired the 41st session in 2021 and who opened the 42nd session; That of the Chairperson of the Executive Board President, H.E. Ms. Tamara Rastovac Siamashvili, Permanent Delegate of Serbia to UNESCO; And that of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Audrey Azoulay.

The official delegation of Soroptimist International, composed of the three Representatives, Evelyne Para, Rina Dupriet and Marie-Christine Gries, to this UN Agency in charge of Education, Science and Culture, participated in the first day of this General Conference.

The essential mission of this General Conference

Beyond crises and challenges, and despite seemingly never-ending conflicts, UNESCO has always been, since its foundation in 1945, a place where women and men have worked together to fight “poverty, ignorance, hatred and fear”, and also to mend tirelessly the rifts of this world in crisis, through education, the sciences, information and culture.

This essential mission of UNESCO is that of its 42nd General Conference, which opens in November 2023.

Over this two-week period, the 194 member states will debate the means of achieving universal education, the ethical challenges of new technologies, the proper management and preservation of World Heritage sites, and the tools to fight climate disruption and rebuild our relationship with nature.

This General Conference will be an opportunity to focus on two crucial challenges, in particular: peace, through the revision of the 1974 UNESCO Recommendation on education for Peace and Human Rights, as well as the ethics of neurotechnology.

These challenges are all global, and therefore call for global responses. This is why many actors will be heard at this General Conference: representatives of governments, civil society, NGOs, academics, artists, young people, in order to amplify this voice of unity and dialogue.

Numerous Special Meetings and Side Events

  • The High-Level Dialogue Ministerial Meeting on Education for Peace: this event will bring together voices from around the world to discuss what quality and relevant education needs to look like today in order to bring about real and lasting peace. Examples of national good practices will be presented, as well as lessons learned from their implementation.


  • The High-Level Segment “(re)Thinking the Commons, Acting Together”, which will focus on how the commons should be thought of and protected in the context of the major disruptions the world is currently experiencing, with a particular emphasis on climate disruption and digital transformation.


  • UNESCO in action for gender equality: during this Side Event, UNESCO will present best practices and lessons learned during the 2022-2023 biennium to address some of the pressing challenges to gender equality: by reducing inequalities in and through quality education; by empowering women in science and technology for environmental action; by promoting inclusion and combating gender-based violence; by bridging the digital gender gap or by promoting women ‘s empowerment in crisis preparedness and emergency response contexts.


  • The critical role of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and getting every learner climate change ready: this Event will notably highlight the role of ESD through good practices and activities relating to greening education, to empower learners of all ages to act for environmental integrity, economic viability and a more equitable society.


  • The 13th Edition of the UNESCO Youth Forum: on this occasion, 170 young change-makers from about 150 countries will be brought together at the same table as decision-makers, in order to find ways, together, to accelerate the climate transition. They will present their recommendations and solutions to world leaders and policy makers.


The participation of the three Representatives of Soroptimist International in the various works of this UNESCO General Conference will be the subject of several blogs targeted on different current themes.

Make sure to stay tuned for further updates!



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