Acknowledging her social work, UNESCO appointed Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis as Goodwill Ambassador, in a ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, in 1999. Since then, she participates in the Annual Meetings of the Goodwill Ambassadors and in many events and programs organised by UNESCO, contributing to issues of social, humanitarian, educational and cultural value, especially the promotion of peace, the protection of children’s rights, the protection of the world cultural, natural and intangible heritage, education for all and of the dialogue among civilizations. She empowers these actions with activities of her Foundation as well as with her mission as board member in prestigious charitable foundations.
As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, she has undertaken, among others, the following tasks:
- The “Early Childhood Resource and Training Centre” in Bethlehem in the framework of the UNESCO programme “Bethlehem 2000” which was, unfortunately, destroyed during conflicts. The foundation ceremony took place on April 6, 2000, under the auspices of Mrs. Suha Arafat. During her visit, Mrs. Vardinoyannis had an official meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority, the late Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah.
- The creation of a Surgical Centre at the Hospital of Gracanica in Kosovo in cooperation with the “Medecins du Monde” as well as the Kindergarten “Athina” in Belgrade (Municipality of Zemun) under the auspices of UNESCO for the children victims of the war in the Balkans, providing also 120 tons of first aid, medication, food and clothing for the relief of families after the war.
- Raised funds and supported several events and projects such as the publication of the children’s book entitled “The Land of the two suns” for the protection of monuments from natural disasters and for the world peace and co-operation (June 2010), the “Education of girls” project in Gaza (September 2009), the International Festival for the World Day of Cultural Diversity held at theUNESCO headquarters in Paris (May 2008), the first “International Workshop on Disaster Management at World Heritage Properties” organised by the “UNESCO World Heritage Centre” in Ancient Olympia, Greece (November 2008), the «Safe Schools» project of the “Jordan River Foundation” presided by H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan (2007), the Concert of Purcell School held at UNESCO for the promotion of music education and the support of young talents, attended by H.R.H. Prince Charles of Wales (February 2003), and more.
- Organised conferences, exhibitions and other cultural events, such as the International Conference “Women in the Service of Peace” held at UNESCO (June, 2004), in order to highlight the important role of women in establishing peace among peoples and defending their right to be recognised as full partners in the processes of decision-making and political negotiations. Also, theexhibition entitled: “The Unity of a Unique Monument: the Parthenon” held at UNESCO Headquarters in collaboration with the Foundation “Melina Merkouri” (April, 2003), the Painting Exhibition of women artists from the Islamic World entitled “Breaking the Veil” at UNESCO under the auspices of H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan, in collaboration with FAM Network (March 2003), thePhotography Exhibition on the World Cultural Heritage in Venice (November 2002) and at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York (December 2002);
- She further organised important international conferences, under the auspices of UNESCO, such as the first European Forum “Family – Europe – 21st Century: Vision and Institutions” (Athens, Greece), the “Meeting of Athens and Delphi on Children and Peace” (Athens and Delphi, Greece), “The Child: Victim of War and Messenger of Peace” (Athens, Greece), “Sexual Abuse of Children and Paedophilia on the Internet” (Athens, Greece), “Contemporary Societies – Multicultural Co-existence: The position of the child” (Thessaloniki, Greece), “Climate Change and Challenges for the Future Generations” (Athens, Greece), etc.
- She was invited to participate in significant productions of UNESCO promoting peace such as the film entitled “Children of Peace” (released in 2000) where she addresses a message of peace together with world personalities including Dalai Lama, Kofi Annan, Simon Peres, Yasser Arafat, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Federico Mayor, and others. Also, her article is included at the Anniversary Book of UNESCO entitled “60 women contributing to the 60 years of UNESCO- Constructing the Foundations of Peace” which contains the profiles of 60 women who act within UNESCO for the building of a new society of peace and dialogue among civilizations.
- She was speaker on the subject “Building a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence” at The Hague Appeal for Peace Conference held in The Netherlands. At the same Conference, she organised a Round Tableentitled “The effect of radioactivity on children’s health” in cooperation with the International Peace Bureau, making an appeal for the abolition of nuclear tests and wars around the world (May 1999).
- On the occasion of the celebration of the 65th Anniversary of UNESCO in 2010, she was invited at UNESCO by the Director-General, Mrs. Irina Bokova, to present her book entitled “Labouring with the Challenges of Female Identity: Insights into Minoan Society”, published in 2010 and based on her postgraduate studies at the University of Sheffield. The presentation was attended by the 3 former Directors-General of UNESCO as well as by many Goodwill Ambassadors.
- On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO in 2014, she was invited, by the Director-General, Mrs. Irina Bokova, to be the keynote speaker at the main celebration event which was dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela and was held at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris. (Mrs Vardinoyannis speech on Nelson Mandela)
- Mrs. Vardinoyannis supported the establishment of the “Institute for Peace Studies” at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In this context she participated in the group of experts for the protection of civilians during armed conflicts, and attended the two meetings –the first one was held in Paris in September 2006 and the second in Alexandria in January 2007. She participated in the first International Youth Forum for Peace held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which aimed at giving young people the opportunity to demonstrate their power and their abilities for the construction of a better world (September, 2007). She attended the International Conference «Crossing Borders to Protect the Children of the World» in Cairo which was organised in co-operation with ICMEC (February 2009) and she alsoattended as a speaker the International Conference “Human Trafficking at the crossroads of East- West” held in Manama, Bahrain, under the auspices of H.R.H. Shaikha Sabeeka Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of H.M. the King of Bahrain. (March 2009). She also participated in the International Forum against Human Trafficking in Luxor, Egypt (December 2010).