UNESCO. Natural Sciences Sector

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

UNESCO. Natural Sciences Sector

Parallel form(s) of name

  • UNESCO. Secteur des sciences exactes et naturelles

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • UNESCO. Science Sector

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

In different administrative set-ups since 1946


The ‘S’ has been an integral part of UNESCO from its foundation in 1945. In 60 years of existence, UNESCO has acted as a catalyst for the establishment of many, now leading scientific unions and bodies such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN, 1948), and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN, 1954) which saw the development of the internet. Initiatives with far-reaching implications for sustainable human security and well-being – such as the Man and the Biosphere programme, the World Heritage sites and the International Hydrological Programme – were launched in the first thirty years of UNESCO’s history.


The Natural Science Sector with its around 200 staff members is located in Paris at UNESCO Headquarters and in twenty-three of UNESCO's 52 field offices (as of June 2009). There are four regional UNESCO offices for science in Nairobi (Africa), Jakarta (Asia and the Pacific), Venice (Europe and North America), Cairo (Arab States) and Montevideo (Latin America and the Caribbean).

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

In its present form (as of June 2009) the Natural Sciences Sector implements major international programmes in the freshwater, marine, ecological, earth and basic sciences, while at the same time promoting national and regional science and technology polices and capacity building in the sciences, engineering and renewable energy. Emphasis is given to developing countries, in particular to Africa and to natural disaster prevention. Programmes are designed to respond to the international goals and challenges of climate change, gender equality, the eradication of poverty and sustainable development, in particular in small island developing states.

Since the beginning of its existence, the Sector and its predecessors carried out a wide range of different activities and functions. For more details, please consult the authority records linked to its collections.

Mandates/sources of authority

The UNESCO Constitution states that “the purpose of the Organization is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture” (UNESCO Constitution, Article 1). The Natural Sciences Sector contributes therefore to UNESCO’s mission by using science to build peace, to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development.

Internal structures/genealogy

The Sector in its present form (as of June 2009) consists of:

  • the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences
  • the Division of Water Sciences
  • the Basic and Engineering Sciences Division
  • the Division for Science Policy and Sustainable Development.

Fur further information of theses and the former sections of the sector, please consult the authority records linked to its collections.

General context

Further information about the current activities, staff and programmes on the website of the <a href="http://portal.unesco.org/science/en/ev.php-URL_ID=5572&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">Natural Science Sector</a>.

Relationships area

Related entity

UNESCO. Department of Application of Science to Economic Development (1964-09-07 - 1968-12-31)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Type of relationship

UNESCO. Department of Application of Science to Economic Development is controlled by UNESCO. Natural Sciences Sector

Dates of the relationship

1964-09-07 - 1968-12-31

Description of relationship

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by J. Pohle, June 2009. Revised by AWT 20/04/2011.




Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC