In September 2015, world governments agreed on “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, with a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core.  As part of this Agenda 2030, countries commit to achieving these 17 goals and their 169 targets in 15 years. Transformative and ambitious, the universal 2030 Agenda pledges among many other objectives to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and tackle climate change.

To effectively assist Member States to realize the transformative 2030 Agenda, the UN will need visionary leaders and a top-notch technical staff. Since no single SDG is the “mandate” of any particular agency, and no SDG can be excluded from the work of any UN system entity, inter-agency and system-wide collaboration and coordination will be required on an unprecedented scale. The UN must transform itself to ensure it can Deliver as One, with integrated approaches which build and bring together intellectual capacities and resources from across the development, human rights, humanitarian, and peace and security pillars of the UN system.

At this critical juncture, the UN System Staff College offers a dual programme of support to harmonize and connect the entire UN family in capacity building for Agenda 2030. Through the Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development alongside the UN Lab for Organizational Change and Knowledge (UNLOCK), the Staff College offers the first UN vehicle to build the technical, managerial and leadership capacities of the UN staff to address the SDGs. While the Knowledge Centre is largely focused on the “what” of sustainable development learning (substantive and technical knowledge), UNLOCK prioritizes the organizational “how” as its objective (organizational change and innovation for greater efficiency).

With the opening of the Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development in Bonn, the College responds to the comprehensive learning, training, and knowledge management needs of UN staff and partners in the context of the Sustainable Development Agenda. To address the need for more systematic multi-stakeholder engagement and partnerships, an increasing number of learning activities also welcome representatives from the private sector, philanthropic foundations, academia and civil society, thus strengthening dialogue and networks within and beyond the UN system.

The cross-cutting nature of the new Agenda requires full ownership by the Member States. The role of the UN as a partner to support governments in the implementation of the Agenda, requires all facets of the UN system to undergo radical organizational and systemic transformation in the years to come. To this end, UNLOCK aims to ‘change the way we do business’ as the UN system, by:

  • strengthening leadership and building management competence needed to support the change;
  • developing the capacity of UN staff to plan, design and implement organizational change;
  • consulting with UN agencies and teams in diagnosing and scoping organizational change;
  • assisting and advising on strategic alignment to execute on change;
  • providing analytical insights to support the case for change; and
  • by establishing an active network of organizational change managers from across the UN system to share ideas, experiences and know-how.

Through advisory services, case studies, discussion and meeting forums, lectures, online and face-to-face learning, the College aims to be at the forefront of building visionary leadership and transformation within the UN and its vast global operations.

The entirety of the work of the College, present and future, is geared towards meeting the learning and capacity needs of staff across the pillars of the UN, while fostering partnerships with relevant institutions and actors from outside the UN system, as expressed by the new Agenda. By Learning as One, UN staff and partners are better equipped to Deliver as One.