Bartoli Paola Leoncini
Ms Paola Leoncini Bartoli
Director for Cultural Policies and Development at UNESCO
Ms Leoncini Bartoli, an Italian national, began her professional career with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1989, where she served as consultant to the UNHCR on policies regarding migration in particular in the African continent and Eastern Europe and providing training to outreach workers and refugee leaders in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention.
In 1992, Ms Leoncini Bartoli joined UNESCO working in the Division in charge of devising UNESCO’s framework for cultural rights in the Cabinet of Director-General, Federico Mayor Zaragoza. Amongst her functions, she served as the UNESCO Liaison with the UN Working Group on Indigenous Issues of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva; in particular, she was in charge of coordinating UNESCO’s contribution and preparatory work in relation to UNESCO’s leadership of the First World Decade for Indigenous Peoples focusing specifically on issues related to cultural rights.
In 1995, she was appointed in the Culture Sector for the preparation of the biennial UNESCO World Culture Report, conducting research on culture and development with academic and specialized partner institutions including the World Bank, UNDP and UNRISD. She then worked on mainstreaming the implementation of the Recommendations of the UNESCO Independent Commission on Culture and Development in the Culture Sector, piloting the organization of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development in Stockholm (Sweden) in 1998. As of 1999, in her functions as Assistant Executive Coordinator of the UNESCO World Culture Report in the Office of the Assistant Director-General for Culture, she conducted research on the focus areas addressed by the Report in line with the Sector’s strategic programme priorities. She was also responsible for developing the online platform, providing a collaborative virtual working space for authors and contributors to the Report.
In 2000, Ms Leoncini Bartoli joined the Executive Office of the Culture Sector as Programme Specialist in charge of drafting the Sector’s Medium-Term Strategy and biennial Programme and Budget; acting as the Sector’s focal point on gender issues and issues relating to the Middle East. From 2003 to 2005 she was Chief Executive Officer ad interim before being appointed to the post in 2005 where she was responsible for devising the Sector’s Medium-Term Strategy and biennial Programme and Budget, also ensuring its overall consistence and coherence as well as piloting the monitoring, reporting to the Governing Bodies and the evaluation of the Sector’s activities.
In 2010, Ms Leoncini Bartoli joined the Office of the Director-General as Senior Executive Officer where she was responsible for matters related to UNESCO’s cultural mandate. She acted as focal point for relations with Western European countries, USA and Arab States, providing political and programmatic advice, including the overall responsibility of advising the Director-General on UNESCO’s work and Organization-wide engagement in the Middle East. She was also in charge of relations with the European Union and its related institutions with a view to broadening strategic cooperation at policy and operational levels on priority areas of common engagement.
At the beginning of 2014, Ms Leoncini Bartoli was appointed Chef de Cabinet in the Office of the Director-General of UNESCO. She was responsible for providing organizational leadership and strategic guidance on political and programmatic issues, issues related to the UN reform, coordination of official engagements and visits of the Director-General, building strategic partnerships with key governmental, intergovernmental, civil society partners and the private sector.
Ms Leoncini Bartoli is presently Director for Cultural Policies and Development since July 2018, where she plays a key role in supporting UNESCO Member States in implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in the area of culture and cultural policies. In this context, she is responsible for the UNESCO biennial Forum of Ministers of Culture and managing a number of thematic and cross-cutting initiatives on the impact of culture to sustainable development in areas such as education, social inclusion, cultural diversity and biodiversity building evidence through data and practice.
A historian, she completed her studies at Paris IV – Sorbonne University in the area of contemporary history, focusing on migration studies.
Ms Leoncini Bartoli has received the decoration of Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit pro Merito Melitensi (Civil Class) from the Order of Malta and the decoration Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Catolica by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.