The 10th annual UN Summer Academy will kick off on the 23rd of August, bringing together a range of leaders and stakeholders to discuss how to tackle the serious challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to redesign our future and achieve the promises set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The theme of this year’s five-day UN Summer Academy is “Redesigning for a sustainable future”. The online programme will address key challenges to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in a post-COVID-19 context to explore the theme from a multi-sectoral perspective. The programme is set to focus on three key areas – health and well-being, economic transformation, and climate action. It will look at these areas through systems thinking, futures thinking, and design thinking. Participants are expected to reflect on their learning in working group sessions designed to help them apply the conceptual approaches to each of the three core focus areas.

UNSSC launches the 2021 Academy on a note of hope and optimism despite what continues to be a challenging period. This year’s core message is: “The post-COVID world urgently calls for transformative approaches in order to tackle the increasingly complex problems humankind faces today.  We need to critically examine and leverage the lessons learned to achieve the promises set in the vision of the 2030 Agenda.”

Jafar Javan, Director of the United Nations System Staff College, will open the UN Summer Academy, and Katja Dörner, the Lord Mayor of the City of Bonn will address participants at the closing event. The highly interactive and engaging programme features live webinars with thought and action leaders including Dr. Maryam Bigdeli, Health Systems Adviser at the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as Adam Sharpe, Director of Learning at Metafuture, and Youssef Nassef, Director of Adaptation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC).

The 2021 virtual UN Summer Academy, organized by UNSSC’s Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, builds on the rich legacy of a very successful virtual edition in 2020, as well as eight face-to-face editions. The academy is sponsored by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. This year ‘s contribution enabled UNSSC to offer the programme at a reduced rate, and fund more than 60 full scholarships. One hundred participants representing over 60 countries will connect for what promises to be an  immersive virtual learning experience.

This year the UN Summer Academy marks its 10th anniversary and its 5th year hosted by the City of Bonn, a sustainability hub and a key location for the United Nations for the past 25 years.  Although participants cannot attend the programme onsite due to ongoing COVID-related travel restrictions, the virtual academy will retain its close ties with the city of Bonn. Participants will get an opportunity to connect virtually with the city through various expert inputs and cultural events.

Members of the Press who wish to cover the UN Summer Academy are welcome to join us for any of the following sessions:

  • 23 August, 14:00 – 16:00 CEST: Opening ceremony, including remarks by Jafar Javan
  • 27 August, 14:00 – 16:00 CEST: Closing ceremony, including remarks by Lord Mayor Katja Dörner

Contact information for media inquiries:, UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, Martin-Luther-King-Str. 8, 53175 Bonn, Germany