Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Editorial: Increase UNESCO's Budget

Click on the table to enlarge it.

The General Conference of UNESCO is to approve a program and budget for the next biennium when it meets in October. The table above provides the draft budget for the Organization.

It is difficult to understand budgets, and the UNESCO Draft Program and Budget for the biennium runs to 359 pages. Still, it is clear that the budget is tiny in comparison to the challenges facing the world in education, science, culture and communications, or indeed to the needs of an intergovernmental organization such as UNESCO.

For example:
Thus UNESCO's education program, budgetted at less than $100 million per year is less than five percent of the operational budget of a single US school system (the 16th largest in the United States in number of students). UNESCO's combined science program budgets are on the order of one fifth of the R&D budget of a single U.S. university. The budget of the culture program is on the order of six percent of the budget of the Smithsonian. The communication and information program budget is less than one percent of the budget of a single large software company.

Of course it does not make sense to put funding into programs where it will be used inefficiently, and the budget suggests that overhead may be high in UNESCO with respect to programmatic operations. Still, assuming that UNESCO can continue to improve its administration and the efficiency of its activities, it seems obvious that increased funding is appropriate for the organization.

John Daly
(The opinions expressed in this posting are the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

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