This course explores approaches to cross-organizational and cross-sectoral policy coherence on the national, regional and international levels, with a view to equipping participants with a sound understanding of why policy coherence is important for achieving sustainable development, what coherent policy making entails, and what are the specific tools, mechanisms and approaches that can be employed to foster policy coherence. Inputs by high-level speakers from the UN System, the OECD as well as think tanks and academia will complement the course.

Conventional approaches to development often focus on sector-specific economic results, working under the assumption that markets function perfectly. Such approaches do not adequately consider externalities and their impact on society, equity or the environment. They also often ignore the transboundary and inter-generational effects which results in siloed, contradictory policies that often undermine one another. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demands integrated approaches that view development through a holistic lens, using a systemic approach that takes account of the causal relationship and the synergies and trade-offs produced among the social, economic, and environmental dimensions in a comprehensive manner. Sustainable Development Goal 17 (and more specifically target 17.14) of the 2030 Agenda establishes policy coherence for sustainable development as a crucial means of achieving the agenda.

This course was designed by the UN System Staff College Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, in collaboration with the OECD Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development Unit in Paris, and in coordination with the National University of Singapore acting through its Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Hertie School of Governance based in Berlin.



Upon successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Have a sound understanding of the vision and principles underlying the 2030 Agenda, the evolution of the concept of policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD) and the importance of policy coherence and integrated approaches for sustainable development;
  • Have a good understanding of the relevance of policy coherence as an approach and a tool to achieve sustainable development outcomes, and be able to recognize policies that are mutually reinforcing across governance levels;
  • Be equipped with knowledge of the specific tools, mechanisms and approaches that can be employed to foster policy coherence, including partnerships and multi-stakeholder engagement.

Course Methodology

Course Methodology: 

UNSSC online courses are designed to deliver maximum learning outcomes through carefully chosen high-quality learning materials. Our facilitated online courses combine self-paced study modules with applied learning components, such as case studies, interactive exercises, and collaborative group work, specially tailored to the needs of the professional interested in deepening their knowledge on a particular subject matter.

Participants will benefit from live moderated webinars which feature valuable inputs from renowned subject matter experts and allow real-time dialogue with high-level speakers. Webinar recordings are made available to ensure that participants have a flexible and seamless learning experience.

An expert facilitator guides and assists participants throughout the course, and provides real-time feedback on activities and exercises. Our user-friendly social online learning platform provides participants with the opportunity to connect with peers from diverse organizational backgrounds, fostering peer-to-peer learning.

UNSSC online courses give learners the opportunity to complete activities when it best fits their schedule. Participants are largely free to determine their own weekly study plan. Lasting five weeks and demanding six hours of study per week, UNSSC online courses incorporate the same high academic rigour as any UNSSC face-to-face programme.

Course Contents

Course Contents: 
  • Week 1 provides an introduction to the vision and principles of the 2030 Agenda, the concept and evolution of policy coherence for sustainable development, and focuses on how far we have come in our commitment and the urgency to act now.
  • Week 2 discusses the importance of policy coherence for sustainable development as a means of implementation under SDG 17 of the 2030 Agenda, explains the need for integrated approaches, introduces key elements of PCSD and the OECD approach to understanding the concept.
  • Week 3 focuses on the importance of policy coherence at national, regional, and international levels and discusses examples of policy coherence for sustainable development.
  • Week 4 looks at tools and review mechanisms to assess integration of the 2030 Agenda at the national level and tracking progress on policy coherence.
  • Week 5 recaps core notions of PCSD and focuses on partnerships and multi-stakeholder engagement to foster policy coherence for sustainable development.

Target Audience

Target Audience: 

UN staff from headquarters, country teams or regional offices, government representatives, development practitioners as well as members of civil society, academia and foundations. 

In light of UNSSC’s collaboration with OECD, this edition of the course will have limited number of slots reserved for OECD Network of National Focal Points for Policy Coherence. If you are a part of this network, please mention it in your motivation while registering for the course.

Cost of participation

Cost of participation: 

This online course is offered free-of-charge.

UNSSC adopts a concrete methodology in its selection process that considers the scope, objectives, and expected outcomes of the course as well as specific selection criteria for its course participants to increase course impact. The criteria include quality of motivation, professional experience and knowledge, organisational commitment, diversity, the potential for future work, and willingness to contribute to the course.

Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up for the course and provide a clear and well-crafted motivation statement in the online application form, with a short explanation of the benefit they can derive from the course as well as their possible contribution to enriching the course.

Participants will enjoy the following benefits from the free online course:

  • 3-months access to course materials (incl. exclusive video material and key readings), recording of webinars and speakers’ presentations.
  • Participation in live webinars with renowned subject matter experts.
  • Exclusive access to the UNSSC online social learning environment with training and supporting background materials, and the opportunity to stay connected with colleagues.

Certificates from the United Nations System Staff College will be awarded to participants upon completion of the course.

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