UN cultural agency and global business group sign pact to fight AIDS
The head of the United Nations cultural agency and the President of the Global Business Coalition (GBC) on HIV/AIDS today in Paris signed an agreement to fight the disease by promoting preventive education and encouraging partnerships.
Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stressed the value of involving businesses in efforts to combat the pandemic. “The world of work is an essential element in any action, whether it concerns prevention, skills acquisition or behaviour change,” he said.
The agreement will run from 2006 to 2010 and Richard Holbrooke, the GBC President, said the partnership with UNESCO would “promote more effective action from companies and contribute to the integration of HIV/AIDS prevention education into the global agenda.”
The Global Business Coalition against HIV/AIDS is an alliance of 200 international companies, employing more than 54 million people worldwide. Founded in 1997, the Coalition encourages its members to commit themselves to the fight against the AIDS pandemic and helps them develop HIV/AIDS policies adapted to their specific needs, globally and locally, for the benefit of employees, families, and, in some cases, communities. GBC’s leader, Mr. Holbrooke, is a former US Ambassador to the UN.
The GBC implements projects in the field, organizes technical meetings and experience-sharing, designs toolkits to aid decision-making, develops guidelines for action and assessment, improves data collection on AIDS in the workplace, and represents companies in dealing with United Nations agencies and other international bodies. UNESCO and GBC have already worked together, organizing a joint forum at UNESCO Headquarters in December 2004.
In the fight against AIDS, UNESCO focuses on prevention education through EDUCAIDS, the global initiative on HIV/AIDS, which aims to raise awareness, increase knowledge and skills, and modify behaviour and values so as to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and its impact on the education sector.
UNESCO is also part of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Earlier this month, UNAIDS said that despite important gains in political leadership and financial resources for AIDS, 3 million people died from the disease and 5 million people became newly infected with HIV last year alone. The agency warned that “vastly increased HIV prevention and treatment efforts are urgently needed to slow and reverse the AIDS epidemic.”