UNESCO-Nordic Partnership :
Over a decade of impact at a glance

Nordic Countries are Prime Partners of UNESCO

With a shared vision and priorities, UNESCO and the 5 Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) have worked in partnership to transform the lives of millions of people by promoting human rights through quality education, diversity of cultural expressions, freedom of expression, and ocean science. The UNESCO/Nordic Annual Review offers an opportunity to take stock of results achieved and discuss future opportunities in a spirit of trust and transparency.

Between 1 and 16 June 2023, UNESCO and the five Nordic countries will hold a UNESCO/Nordic Annual Review, covering all programmes areas of UNESCO. Nordic countries are prime partners of UNESCO - in 2022, voluntary contributions received from the 5 Nordic countries amounted to 21% of all voluntary contributions from governments to UNESCO. (see the infographic)

Nordic support is based on a long-term and strategic partnership, operationalized through flexible and multi-annual funding. We work jointly on medium/long-term programmes, thereby achieving greater impacts and results.  

Flexible funding provided by Nordic countries, in particular Norway and Sweden, allows UNESCO to respond to emerging priorities. For example, UNESCO’s response since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine has been possible thanks to such flexible funding mechanisms. 

Nordic countries united in support for Ukraine

They are all key partners of UNESCO's emergency response to Ukraine on violence against journalists, the protection of cultural institutions, and the maintenance of education.

Transforming Education for all

Quality education for all holds paramount importance in our partnership, with Sweden and Norway providing steadfast support to UNESCO's mandate and work in the field of education, including education for health and wellbeing. We have made sustained efforts to support Member States towards education recovery after the consequences of the pandemic to education systems and deepening inequalities. In 2022, we laid the groundwork for a profound transformation of the global education sector at the Transforming Education Summit, which ignited a new wave of commitments to achieving SDG 4. A series of major global initiatives were launched at the Summit – on education in crisis situations, greening education, digital learning, gender equality and girls’ and women’s empowerment, and foundational learning. The support from Finland and Iceland enables capacity development of countries to develop their education systems, especially in Least Developed Countries. 


received technical support to strengthen their education system

34.8 Million

reached with life skills-based HIV & sexuality education

Nearly 1 M

benefitted from TVET & literacy

3 Million

benefited from quality gender transformative education

Fostering Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression, media freedom, and the safety of journalists is another key priority of the partnership with Nordic countries. In 2022, UNESCO undertook consultations of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity for its 10th anniversary, and continued to reinforce its implementation on the ground. Thanks to its flexible nature, the Multi-Donor Programme particularly plays a pivotal role in upholding freedom of expression, journalist safety, and media development in emergencies.  

In Afghanistan

@begum_fm is one of the few entirely women-run radios. Thanks to the support of donors, UNESCO can assist their work to ensure access to information and promote women journalists.

In Haiti

which has witnessed a rise in civil unrest and gang violence, safety equipment kits (vests, helmets and gas masks) were provided to 30 journalists from four media and journalists’ associations. 

law enforcement & security forces

trained on international standards on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists

judicial operators

on international and regional standards on freedom of expression and new digital challenge

projects in over 140 countries

supported to promote media development for the growth of free and pluralistic press

stakeholders brought together

at the “Internet for Trust” conference in 2022 for the regulation of digital platforms

Defending Artistic Freedom and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

We have reached important milestones in making synergies between journalists and artists to promote freedom of expression, both of whom face the same threats to their safety and livelihoods in emergencies. Sweden and Norway have been at the forefront of this initiative. A recent study published in May 2023 outlines key recommendations on the way forward. 

Woman, Life, Freedom, 2022


In a spirit of co-creation, Norway and Sweden are also majors supporters for ocean science for sustainable development, in addition to Denmark through the hosting of IOC/UNESCO Science and Communication Centre on Harmful Algae for almost three Decades. Nordic funding has been essential to develop capacities and build engagement of African stakeholders and Early Career Ocean Professionals; organize a series of regional forums bringing together over 500 experts from 70 countries to collaborate on marine spatial planning; widen the number of communities across Pacific Island Countries and Territories that are recognized as or on the way to becoming “Tsunami Ready”; and become the leading agency, globally, in standard setting and implementation of ocean literacy projects.

Ocean Image Bank

UNESCO-Nordic Annual Joint Review

The UNESCO-Nordic Annual Joint Review strengthens the strategic nature of the partnership and promotes long-term cooperation by institutionalizing regular dialogues and fostering trust and transparency. It has also been a forum through which the Nordic countries learn from each other, regarding the wide breadth and depth of the work of UNESCO and partnership modalities. UNESCO encourages its donors to engage with the Organization through annual reviews, an important accountability measure, which offers an opportunity to hold strategic dialogue, joint review of on-going cooperation and planning for the future.

Donor profiles

Access our infographic donor profiles for: SwedenNorwayIceland and Finland.


Programmes funded by Nordic countries

Health and education

For healthy, happy and thriving learners

Capacity development for education

Building skills to transform people and systems

Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity

Addressing culture as a global public good

UNESCO Culture|2030 Indicators

To measure and monitor the progress of culture's impact

Strengthening STI Systems

For Sustainable Development in Africa

UNESCO-Aschberg programme

For artists and cultural professionals

World Heritage Convention for Africa

For the capacity of the Africa region

Heritage Emergency Fund

For cultural heritage and diversity in emergencies

Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists

For free, independent and pluralistic media

International Programme for the Development of Communication

For the growth of free and pluralistic press

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Strengthening STI Systems for Sustainable Development in Africa

Women in Science for the Developing World