Vacancy: United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO Non-Executive Director for Culture (pro bono)


Please note: Applications for this position have now closed.

The United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) is inviting applications for a pro bono Non-Executive Director (NED) with expertise and experience in the field of Cultural and Natural Heritage.


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

“Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed.” UNESCO Constitution

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. An agency of the UN, UNESCO contributes to peace and security by promoting international cooperation in education, sciences (natural and physical, social and human), culture, communication and information. UNESCO promotes knowledge sharing and the free flow of ideas to accelerate mutual understanding and a more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives.

UNESCO acts as a laboratory of ideas, setting international normative standards, building capacity, and acting as a catalyst for international dialogue and co-operation between its Member States.

UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015) and the attainment of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held within. In 2022, UNESCO published its Medium-Term Strategy 2022-29 to guide the organisation for the remainder of the decade.

UNESCO is a global organisation but grounded in local designations ranging from UNESCO World Heritage sites and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, to UNESCO Global Geoparks and UNESCO Creative Cities. UNESCO also develops and manages international networks linked to education, from schools through its Associated Schools Programme Network (ASPnet) to higher education through its UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Network.

It is this grassroots nature, linked to global standards setting, which gives UNESCO its unique character and potential.


United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC)

UNESCO works towards its mission by strengthening the ties between nations and societies through an international network of 190+ national cooperating bodies known as National Commissions.

The UKNC is the focal point for all UNESCO-related matters in the UK, including overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and is a constitutional part of the UK’s membership of UNESCO.

An independent company limited by guarantee, the UKNC supports the UK’s contribution to UNESCO and brings the benefits of UNESCO to the UK. The UKNC is substantially funded by core grant funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The Commission is overseen by a Board of Non-Executive Directors with an expertise and skills mix covering UNESCO’s programme areas. The UKNC Board provides strategic guidance and leadership to a Secretariat, led by the Chief Executive/Secretary General.

The UKNC’s Core Functions are:

  1. Support UK government in achieving its objectives through UNESCO
  2. Support UK society and communities to maximise the benefits of UNESCO’s mission and programmes
  3. Support UNESCO to be a competent and relevant UN agency able to deliver its mission and fulfil its objectives

UKNC Culture Portfolio

The UKNC supports the UK’s contribution to UNESCO and brings the benefits of UNESCO to the UK by raising awareness of the world’s most special places and encouraging more people to discover the UK’s culture, nature and heritage.

UNESCO Culture Conventions and programmes are extensive. Accordingly, since 2021, the UKNC Culture Portfolio has been split between two Non-Executive Directors.

Dr Charlotte Joy is the Non-Executive Director covering cultural heritage in conflict, illicit trafficking in cultural property, and intangible cultural heritage.

This call for applications relates to the land-based UNESCO designations, i.e. UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Creative Cities, UNESCO Global Geoparks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The UNESCO site network in the UK currently includes seven Biosphere Reserves, 13 Creative Cities, nine Global Geoparks and 33 World Heritage Sites. The UKNC supports the network in the UK and helps them achieve their full potential.

Role Requirements

The new Culture Non-Executive Director will be expected to:

  • Champion the benefits of UNESCO land-based designations to the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies
  • Promote the intersectoral aspects of land-based UNESCO designations, and champion and showcase good practice nationally and internationally arising from research and projects in this area
  • Advise/support UK Government on international opportunities to showcase and share UK research and good practice arising from these UNESCO designations
  • Maintain a role in the UK’s World Heritage nomination process, specifically in the forthcoming Technical Evaluations for the UK’s prospective World Heritage Sites
  • Take an oversight role for key current and emerging UKNC projects in the Culture programme area, such as UKNC’s Local to Global project (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund)
  • Review (alongside the UKNC Chair and Chief Executive) UKNC engagement with the UK’s Creative Cities Network
  • Alongside the rest of the UKNC Board, take responsibility for UKNC corporate governance.


The full Role Description and Person Specification can be viewed and downloaded HERE.

For reference, the main fields of activity in this Culture portfolio relate to the following UNESCO Conventions and Programmes:

Application Process and Timings

Applicants should submit their application comprising a letter (of no more than two sides of A4 in 12-point text) and a CV indicating their expertise, engagement & networks in relation to the role.

Applicants should also provide the names and contact details of two referees.

Completed applications should be sent to James Bridge, UKNC Chief Executive/Secretary-General – [email protected]

The closing date for applications is 17:00 GMT on Monday 4 March 2024.


Invitations to interviews are expected to be sent w/c Monday 11 March 2024. Interviews are scheduled to take place between 21 and 28 March 2024 and we anticipate that the selected candidate will be appointed by mid-April 2024.


Confidential informal enquiries, to arrange a telephone conversation or to submit in writing, can be addressed to either:

Time Commitment: At least 20 days per year, including four UKNC Board Meetings per year and other task-related activities. Candidates should indicate the time they expect to be able to devote to UKNC work.

Travel Requirements: In-person attendance at UNESCO meetings and functions in the UK (mainly London), France (usually UNESCO headquarters in Paris) and occasional other overseas countries.

Remuneration: The role is voluntary. Reimbursement of reasonable approved expenses will be paid.