All GRÓ training programmes operated in 2021 despite of pandemic

27 January 2022
A roundtable on GRÓ
A roundtable on GRÓ

GRÓ – International Centre for Capacity Development, Sustainability and Societal Change, that operates under the auspices of UNESCO, managed to continue its operations during last year, in spite of the various challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All four training programmes run by GRÓ were again able to receive students for the six-month training courses, a total of 90 fellows. In 2020 the operations were greatly disrupted and three of the programmes had to suspend the arrival of fellows for one year. Furthermore, short courses in partner countries could again be conducted last year.

Last Friday GRÓ held an internal information meeting where briefings were given on Iceland’s policy on international development cooperation, the work of the OECD DAC (the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and the priorities of UNESCO. Following the presentations, a lively debate took place on GRÓ and its activities.

GRÓ runs four training programmes in Iceland. These are the Fisheries Training Programme, hosted at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, the Gender Equality Studies and Training Program, at the University of Iceland, the Geothermal Training Program, based at Iceland Geosurvey and the Land Restoration Training Program at the Agricultural University of Iceland. The programmes operate in fields where Iceland has expert knowledge and aim at building competence of individuals, organisations and institutions in developing countries and in conflict and post-conflict societies. The programmes have been operated for decades and are one of the main pillars of Iceland’s international development cooperation. A total of around 1500 specialists have graduated from the programmes and a large number of events and courses have been organised in partner countries.

Participants at the information meeting were representatives from the GRÓ Governing Board, employees of the four GRÓ programmes and the host institutions under which they operate, as well as staff from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The service agreements between GRÓ and the four host institutions stipulate that GRÓ should, on a regular basis, offer presentations on matters related to GRÓ and the operations of the programmes.

At the meeting, ambassador Elín Flygenring who managed the campaign of the Icelandic candidacy to the Commission of UNESCO for the period of 2021-2025, reported on Iceland’s priorities on the board and the work of UNESCO. Erla Hlín Hjálmarsdóttir, Director of results and evaluations, reported on Iceland’s policy on international development cooperation and on the importance of audits and results based management in assessing the impact and outcomes of development cooperation. Sara Ögmundsdóttir, Director of finance and statistics, discussed the work of the OECD/DAC and its different committees. Nína Björk Jónsdóttir, Director General of GRÓ, chaired the meeting where a lively discussion ensued on GRÓ’s work, the work ahead and the successes the programmes have achieved since the first programme was founded in 1979.