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BNU Clinches UNESCO's IFCD Award, a First for Pakistan

A project proposed by Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Pakistan’s first not-for-profit Liberal Arts University, has been accepted by United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The project application was made in June, 2022 in response to the 13th call for funding under the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD).

The international call for funding under IFCD received 610 proposals, globally. BNU submitted one of only eleven proposals that have received funding. In Pakistan's history of holding UNESCO's membership, this is the first time a proposal from the country has been shortlisted and received funding from the agency under the IFCD Award. Pakistan ratified UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in March last year and became an eligible country for funding.

The decision of the sixteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee of the 2005 Convention was communicated in a letter addressed to the University dated February 23, 2023, from the Secretary of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, “l am pleased to inform you that upon the recommendation of the Panel of Experts, at its sixteenth session (7-10 February 2023), the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has approved the application submitted by Beaconhouse National University.”

The BNU project titled, "Improving Data Collection among National and Provincial Statistical Agencies to Strengthen Policymaking for the Cultural and Creative Industries", has been allocated an amount of 83,496 USD from IFCD.

The project will be co-led by Dr. Izza Aftab from the Department of Economics and Executive Director (Student Affairs & External Relations), Mr. Zaeem Yaqoob Khan.

Chairperson, Board of Governors, Mrs. Nasreen Mahmud Kasuri and Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ruhi Khalid, heartily congratulated the team leads. In a message to the project team, Mrs. Kasuri said, “To have been selected out of such a large number of entries speaks for the quality of your entry and the time and effort that went into its preparation. It's an achievement for both of you, a feather in BNU's cap as also an honour for Pakistan.”

Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ruhi Khalid hoped that the exercises being undertaken by the project team facilitate in improving the capacity of the statistical agencies not only in Pakistan but the entire South Asia region.

The International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) is one of the key instruments of international cooperation and assistance of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005). The Fund’s objective is to foster the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector in developing countries that are Parties to the 2005 Convention by strengthening their capacity to create, produce, distribute and provide access to a diverse range of cultural goods and services. As a multi-donor fund, the IFCD promotes South-South and North-South cooperation, while contributing to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and gender equality.

About Project Team-leads

Dr. Izza Aftab
Izza Aftab is an Economist by profession. Izza has been a faculty member of the Economic Department at Beaconhouse National University's Business School since February 2022. She worked at Information Technology University in Lahore for five years, ending in September 2021. The last position she held there was Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Before that she was the founding Chairperson of the Economics Department there. Her research interests include firm level innovation, economics of innovation, SDG, CPEC, BRI, structural macroeconomics and child protection. Izza did her doctorate in Economics from The New School in New York in 2016 on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Izza is a member of the only team of researchers from Pakistan which won the prestigious Google Research Scholar Award 2020 for the project, “Economics from afar”. It brings together advances in computer vision with economics and development. Izza founded the SDG Tech Lab at ITU, set up in collaboration with the UNDP and UNFPA. She was the Program Director of Safer Society for Children successfully completed in July 2021. She has published numerous academic articles and book chapters. She regularly contributes to leading English dailies. Izza is a member of the Research Advisory Council of the RASTA grant program funded by the Pakistani Federal Ministry of Planning.

Zaeem Yaqoob Khan
Zaeem Yaqoob Khan is an academic, researcher and Higher Education manager with over 18 years of experience in Pakistan serving different roles in the HE sector. He has graduate degrees in Computer Science from University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore, MS in Development Studies from the Information Technology University (ITU) and a graduate credential in Data Economics & Development Policy from Abdul Latif Jamil Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Department of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. His research interests include technology policy, entrepreneurship, cultural and creative industries, evidence-based policy making and randomized control trials and field experiments. Currently, he is working at Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in the capacities of Executive Director of Student Affairs & External Relations and Member and Secretary of the BNU Center for Policy Research. Zaeem is the 2012 Fellow of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) by the US Department of State and has done advocacy, research and training projects with the World Bank Group, German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), The Danish Centre for Culture and Development (CKU) and UNESCO Pakistan.

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