KISS hosted the roundtable gathering of UNESCO Chairs in South Asia on 18th – 19th March 2024. The purpose of this meeting was to bolster the UNESCO Chairs network and engage in discussions regarding key priority areas for the region, as well as explore how UNESCO Chairs can contribute to these endeavours.

The event was convened by Prof. Amareswar Galla, Pro-Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of Indigeneity and Inclusive Museum & Heritage Studies at KISS-DU, also serving as the UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Museums and Sustainable Heritage Development at Anant National University, Gujarat. KISS played host to this significant gathering.

The roundtable saw the participation of 16 UNESCO Chairs from India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, alongside Mr Tim Curtis, Director and UNESCO Representative for the UNESCO Regional Office in New Delhi, overseeing Bangladesh, and other personnel and specialists from the UNESCO New Delhi office.

The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme, initiated in 1992, aims to foster international cooperation and networking among universities. This initiative facilitates the reinforcement of higher education institutions globally, bridging knowledge disparities, and mobilizing university expertise and collaboration towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With over 850 higher education and research institutions in 117 countries involved, this network enables the pooling of resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to societal development.

UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks play a crucial role in strengthening higher education systems and fostering collaborative research partnerships and networks. By integrating research, teaching, training, and community engagement, the Programme facilitates interdisciplinary knowledge generation and serves as a global observatory and laboratory of ideas.

Currently, there are 950 UNESCO Chairs and 45 UNITWIN Networks hosted in higher education institutions across 120 countries. Each Chair or Network is led by distinguished academics in their respective fields, supported by university teams and diverse partners, often spanning different regions of the world. In India, there are presently 16 accredited UNESCO Chairs, with 3 Chairs from the South Asia region, including Nepal and Sri Lanka.