As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, I've discovered that one of UNESCO's biggest secrets is the extent to which American companies are keen to collaborate with this 193-member state organization. Since I've arrived, I've been impressed by the number of U.S. companies who have come knocking on our door, looking for introductions and support to pitch innovative forms of collaboration to UNESCO. This goes beyond good corporate citizenship; many companies see the value in UNESCO's name recognition and reach, which they believe can help as they seek to enter new markets.
One of those companies was Apple, who came to see us last fall about a proposed collaboration between its widely popular iTunes University and UNESCO. As I learned, iTunes U is an innovative online platform linked to iTunes that allows universities to post downloadable video, audio and written educational content for free. Over 800 universities in 26 countries have a presence on iTunes U -- and Apple was hoping that UNESCO would become the first UN organization to join this amazing portal.
Fast forward to June 22, when much to my delight, UNESCO launched its new portal on iTunes -- a first for a United Nations organization. How exciting it was to take a stroll along iTunes U's virtual campus, where I discovered fascinating materials in several languages produced by UNESCO's top experts in culture, education and science.
You can take that very same tour. Once you check in at iTunes U (which you can reach through the iTunes interface), head for iTunes U's “Beyond Campus” section, where UNESCO has taken up residence alongside such other great institutions as the New York Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), National Public Radio, and many others.
For any institution, moving onto iTunes is the real estate equivalent of moving your storefront from the suburbs onto Fifth Avenue or the Champs d'Elysees in terms of the amount of foot -- or rather online -- traffic that you can draw to view and download your wares. Since its inception in 2003, iTunes has registered 10 billion downloads, while iTunes University alone has logged over 300 million downloads! Thanks to this partnership, UNESCO's excellent audio, video and published content will be become much more easily accessible to people all over the world.
I can't tell you what a thrill it is to see a project like this come to fruition. By bringing Apple and UNESCO together, my delegation helped forge an innovative partnership that draws on the strengths of both institutions to make a real contribution to world learning. As a diplomat, there is no greater satisfaction than to see your work help advance the cause of international collaboration in such a groundbreaking and exciting way!
Secretary Clinton has urged us, as diplomats in the field, to promote what she calls “multi-partner” diplomacy, engaging not just other governments, but the private and nongovernmental sectors as well as multilateral organizations such as UNESCO. Here at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO, we have found that this approach pays real dividends for all concerned. For UNESCO, It's meant an infusion of great new ideas and funding in support of its programs, while the private sector benefits from the entree that UNESCO can help provide all around the world.
For more information about how to access to UNESCO's iTunes U site, click here.