The Clubs, Centres and Associations for UNESCO are groups of volunteers of different ages and socio-professional status who become activists in the service of UNESCO’s ideals.
Established under the aegis of the National Commissions for UNESCO, these Clubs, Centres and Associations are grouped into national, regional and international networks, for the purpose of acting in UNESCO’s fields of competence at the grass root level.
More than 65 years after the founding of the first UNESCO Association in 1947 in Japan, some 4000 Clubs, Centres and Associations for UNESCO operate in more than 100 countries. In the light of civil society’s growing role in determining public policy, UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategies stress the main role that Clubs, Centres and Associations for UNESCO can play in the sustainable development process, in cooperation with other civil society partners.
The activities carried out by the Clubs, Centres and Associations are varied and depend, very often, on the interests of their members and also on the financial resources and means of action available. Irrespective of their nature and scope, these initiatives foster the dissemination of UNESCO’s principles and objectives in civil society. These Clubs therefore make it possible to publicize the values represented by the Organization in local communities. In the light of civil society's growing role in public policy-making, the Club movement can play a key part in educating citizens, and can contribute to dialogue between cultures and generations for sustainable development.
At the national level, UNESCO Clubs are coordinated either by a National Federation if there are or by the National Commission in that country. At the regional level, regional federations as coordinating bodies carry out activities in promoting clubs movement across the regions. At the international level, the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (WFUCA), as an international NGO maintaining official relations with UNESCO, is responsible for informing, coordinating and mobilizing its members, with UNESCO's support and cooperation.