The overarching mandate
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the most profound and universal disruption of education in history, impacting global trends in education and education systems worldwide.
UNESCO is an active champion of SDG 4, constantly strengthening national and global commitments around education, in the wake of pressing global issues, such as peace, climate change, pandemics and digitalization.
UNESCO has continually raised visibility and ascertained the centrality of education for all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It paves the way for increased political will to ensure every child and young person goes to school and learns. Above all, it strives to protect education and the lifelong learning approach.
To this end, UNESCO has expressly formulated the Global Education Cooperation Mechanism (GCM) focusing on concerted SDG 4 action.
The Global Education Cooperation Mechanism
The GCM builds on the 2015 Incheon Declaration and Education 2030 Framework for Action, which envisaged a cooperation and monitoring mechanism with the Global Education Meeting (GEM) at its centre.
The GCM is best understood as the ecosystem consisting of all global education actors that participate in the Global Education Meeting and have agreed to work cooperatively in support of SDG 4. It also comprises the joint platforms and initiatives developed by those global education actors in pursuit of SDG 4.
At the heart of the GCM is the commitment to a shared global education goal and the incentives for stronger collective action and joint accountability to achieve this goal.
The GCM creates an environment of greater unity to act more effectively, better mobilize existing partners and initiatives.
The SDG 4 Education 2030 High-Level Steering Committee (HLSC)
This global multi-stakeholder mechanism for education in the 2030 Agenda, is the governance engine for the GCM – the High-Level Steering Committee (HLSC). Its representation is at the highest level to provide it with power to take strategic decisions and action for education (2022-2023 members). All global education actors have agreed, at the Global Education Meetings organised by UNESCO, to work cooperatively in support of SDG 4.
One of the key roles of the HLSC is to ensure the systematic alignment of approaches for education-related targets within the wider United Nations SDG structure. The HLSC engages with the wider United Nations SDG structure at global and regional levels.
At the global level, the HLSC provides inputs for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda through United Nations processes, including the High-Level Political Forum.
As the apex body for global coordination and monitoring of SDG 4, the HLSC is responsible for the follow up of the Transforming Education Summit, including contributing to the education dimension of the Summit of the Future in 2023. It will continue to monitor progress, promote and facilitate knowledge and practice exchange, engage youth, and champion cross-sector and multilateral cooperation.
At the regional level, the HLSC interacts with regional organizations, SDG 4 coordination groups, and other partners to ensure a more harmonized support for implementation, monitoring and review of Education 2030.
The HLSC structure for affirmative action
The HLSC is the governance engine of SDG 4, with responsibility to create and sustain positive incentives for coordinated international action and to improve accountability for results.
The HLSC has been formed with specialists and experts from across the globe, who will bring a multi-faceted and global perspective to the agenda.
It consists of a Leadership Group at Ministerial or Head of Agency level, composed of 28 members of which 18 represent the 6 regions of the world, with two countries and one inter-governmental regional organization per region, who will meet once annually to provide leadership on the global education agenda.
Other key constituencies of the global education community represented are
- civil society organizations
- the teaching profession
- banks and funds
- foundations and private sector
- youth and students
- development cooperation or donor constituency
- multilateral organizations
Two supporting structures have been created to power up the Leadership Group representatives of the HLSC.
- An Inter-Agency Secretariat hosted by UNESCO, and
- The Sherpa Group whose responsibility is to consult actively with their relevant constituencies ahead of SDG4 Education 2030 High-Level Steering Committee meetings and to provide feedback following those meetings
Additionally, UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring Report provide the official source of cross-nationally comparable data and analysis on education.
Regional and sub-regional coordination
To support national efforts and to ensure harmonization between efforts at the global and country levels, a multi-layered structure has been put in place.
The composition of regional Education 2030 coordination mechanisms includes
- Representatives of Education 2030 co-convening agencies
- Regional organizations
- Regional civil society organization (CSO) networks
- Other regional or international partners that may be involved in supporting educational development in countries within the region
The regional and sub-regional levels are key both to informing the global Committee about regional realities and national priorities, as well as to translating global guidance provided by the global Committee into country-level action.
In order to ensure optimal articulation between the global Committee and country realities, the composition of the regional coordination mechanism at (sub)regional level includes the global Committee members who represent the region.