The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation was established in Paris, where it is still headquartered today, on 4 November 1946. Its mission is that of building the preconditions for international peace and the prosperity of people by promoting intercultural dialogue, respect for the environment and the best practices of Sustainable Development.

UNESCO was born from the common purpose of contributing to the maintenance of peace, respect for human rights and the equality of people through the channels of Education, Science, Culture and Communication. The organisation’s objective was defined as follows in the preamble to its founding act.

“To contribute to peace and security by promoting cooperation among nations through education, science and culture in order to ensure universal respect for justice, law, human rights and the fundamental freedoms which the United Nations Charter recognises for all people without distinction of race, sex, language or religion.”


With programmes to promote intercultural dialogue, universal access to new information and communication technologies and the dissemination of scientific knowledge to prevent the negative effects of climate change, it creates holistic policies that address social, environmental and economic issues according to the values of Sustainable Development.

The objectives it pursues are:

  • The promotion of universal access to quality education;
  • The building of intercultural understanding also through the preservation of World Heritage sites of exceptional value and beauty;
  • The pursuit of scientific cooperation to strengthen links between nations and societies to monitor and prevent environmental disasters and manage the planet’s water resources;
  • The protection of freedom of expression as an essential condition for ensuring democracy, development and the protection of human dignity.

The identification, protection, preservation and transmission to future generations of the world’s cultural and natural heritage are among UNESCO’s main missions. In 1972, the Convention regulating the protection of Sites of Outstanding Value for Humanity because of their cultural or natural significance was signed in Paris. In particular, the ‘Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ established the World Heritage List. The list is constantly being updated and includes artistic and creative works, archaeological sites, natural spaces and ‘intangible’ assets.

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