The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demands profound reflection and a sharp ability to understand and navigate complexity. The interconnectedness and indivisibility of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) challenge siloed and fragmented approaches to development, forcing international actors to rethink their work of multilateral cooperation in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Leaders are now asked to: think across and beyond their specific area of expertise and mandate; analyse their environment as a set of complex ecosystems; discern their organising principles as well as the linkages, interactions, dependencies and power distribution among components and constituencies; and strategically identify leverage points in network multilateralism to achieve maximum impact. This new approach calls for a shift from linear thinking to non-linear systems thinking. In the context of sustainable development, this entails building on and working through the lenses of five intertwined dimensions: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.

“Leading for Sustainable Development” has been specifically designed to enable senior international leaders to think systemically and act cooperatively in their work on sustainable development to achieve the greatest impact.


  • Understanding of tools, perspectives and concepts relating to systems thinking and systems leadership
  • “How-to” application of concepts and tools to international challenges related to sustainable development, small states and multilateral leadership
  • Testing of ideas, sharing of experiences and devising of actions in an inspirational and safe space
  • Community building across sectors and spheres of influence to amplify impact

Course Methodology

Course Methodology: 

The programme combines real-life case studies with presentations and instructor-led inputs, discussion sessions and reflections. The programme faculty - composed of thought leaders on sustainable development and systems thinking from the UN, the Commonwealth, political and private sector leaders, artists and practitioners - introduces new and innovative learning methods to accelerate learning application and impact.

Follow-up webinars and an optional mentoring programme accompany the prolonged leadership journey

Course Contents

Course Contents: 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: interconnectedness and indivisibility of the agenda and the role of international actors.

Systems leadership for sustainable development - key concepts and tools, case studies, site visits, and reflection for personal action and own leadership practice.

Leading diversity and inclusion in the context of sustainable development.

Target Audience

Target Audience: 

The programme thrives on the participation of senior leaders from different spheres of leadership influence including the UN, other International Organizations, the public and private sectors, academia, civil society and non-governmental organisations: 

  • Highly experienced professionals operating in relevant fields of international cooperation and sustainable development in international organizations, public and private sectors
  • Ministers and Deputy Ministers (with special emphasis on small states)
  • Senior UN staff at the D1 – D2 and above levels;
  • Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators;
  • Agency Country representatives;
  • Alumni of the UN Leaders and UNCT Leadership Programmes.

Cost of participation

Cost of participation: 

The fee amounts to USD 3300 per participant.


“[I take away] the need to change my thinking, my perception and my approach to leadership, to networking and to partnerships and at the end of it all to be my authentic self.”

“The application of system thinking to the SDGs was brilliantly done.”

“What I have learnt from the programme is critical to the entire portfolio under my purview – WTO, UN, Vienna based agencies. Further, this will contribute greatly to my operations within the context of my specific involvement in resource mobilization for SDGs.”

“This was a life changing programme for me.”

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