The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) signed a framework agreement for cooperation at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on December 17.

Addressing the function, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said the document is a milestone in the cooperation between the two oganisations and sets a course of action for the next five years and beyond.

Under this agreement, ASEAN wants to take advantage of UNESCO’s experience in the implementation of programmes and activities for sustainable development, especially at a time when ASEAN is striving to establish a Community that forges a caring and sharing society, Minh said.

For her part, UNESCO General Director Irina Bokova noted ASEAN and UNESCO need to share common values and rules.

She said she believes that education serves as the foundation for building a prosperous society and cultural diversification will be the origin of social consensus at a time when countries are becoming increasingly dependent and connected to each other.

The Agreement supports the ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision and is aligned with UNESCO’s 8-year Medium Term Strategy, adopted by the 37th Session of the General Conference, she added.

The agreement is the first cooperation document that ASEAN has signed with a UN agency since its Charter was adopted in 2007 at the bloc’s 13 th summit in Singapore .

It aims to supplement bilateral cooperation activities between UNESCO and each ASEAN member.

It also helps uphold the available cooperation resources to implement joint programmes and projects towards the establishment of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community by 2015, which is one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community.

The Framework agreement defines seven priority areas for cooperation: education; science, technology and innovation; disaster risk reduction; environmental sustainability; social and human sciences, in particular youth and civic engagement; the protection of cultural heritage and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions; and access to information and knowledge.

At their talks earlier, the two organisations’ heads pledged to facilitate the implementation of specific programmes and projects through their Secretariats and UNESCO representative offices in the region.

They agreed that activity collaboration and experience sharing will help boost the building of a united and dynamic community, bridge the development gaps and promote a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous future.-VNA