Building on the repositioning of the UN development system, the Decade of Action and the imperative for sustainable societal transformation in light of the post-Covid efforts to build back better, this executive five-day programme will strengthen the skills and capabilities required for UN leaders to drive the nationally owned 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The course focuses on the areas of integrated policy support, systems-thinking, strategic communications, and collaborative and agile leadership. An exclusive feature of the programme is a site visit, demonstrating the real-life interconnectedness of the 5Ps—people, planet, prosperity, partnership, and peace. In addition, UN leaders will receive a high-impact professional and personalized media training as part of the course. 


We are all called to lead, to act, to change. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents an imperative for change for the United Nations. The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the relevance of integrated approaches: initially addressed for its immediate effects on the health system, it became quickly evident that responses needed to consider wider economic, social and environmental linkages. Beyond the pandemic, the world is facing wider megatrends and a triple planetary crisis of climate emergency, biodiversity loss and pollution that risks reversing any socio-economic gains that have been achieved across the globe in past decades.

In this context, the UN needs leaders who are ready to embrace transformation and to fundamentally reconsider the way they think and act; leaders who are willing to unlearn, as they redefine the best contribution they can make as individuals, UN entity representatives and members of UN country teams. 

The course aims at supporting UN leaders at this critical juncture to articulate, facilitate and broker the needed changes in support of the people in the countries they serve. It also provides a space to discuss the necessary adjustments in the structure, leadership, accountability mechanisms, interaction and capacities of the UN development system which are required to ensure it is positioned to provide countries with the support they need.

Participants will deepen their knowledge and sharpen their political acumen through engaging discussions with UN senior officials and subject-matter experts. There will be opportunities to share practices through interactive peer-to-peer learning and workshops that unpack inter-agency concerns as well as individual agency contexts and develop solutions that leverage each UN agency’s strengths and expertise. 

Experiential learning methods such as a site visit, as well as a full day media training will complement the intense training programme. 


Upon successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Have strengthened their knowledge of the vision and principles underlying the 2030 Agenda as well as approaches to its implementation through practical means and mechanisms to sustainable development;
  • Have gained a deeper understanding of the repositioning process of the UN development system and the implications for UN agencies and Resident Coordinator offices at the country level;
  • Have gained a deeper understanding of integrated approaches to sustainable development and systems thinking, in the context of building back better post-COVID-19;
  • Have improved their understanding of the defining characteristics of UN leadership and the various ways of working that exemplify these leadership characteristics
  • Have acquired knowledge of mechanisms and tools that enhance UNCTs' integrated policy support to countries;
  • Be ready to apply the art of effective and strategic communication to improve the quality of dialogue with partners and stakeholders, increase advocacy and highlight results.
Course methodology

This face-to-face course combines inputs and lectures by subject matter experts and senior UN staff with opportunities for knowledge sharing and participatory exercises.

Participants apply their learning through experiential learning methodologies such as case studies, an engaging site visit, team discussions, participatory and innovative learning methods and dialogues with speakers.

Course contents

Sustainable development vision and principles; challenges and opportunities of repositioning the UN development system; sustainable transformation and systems thinking in the context of Building Back Better; improving political acumen and leadership skills; strengthening strategic communication and advocacy skills.

Target audience

UN Resident Coordinators (RC) and RC Candidates, Country Directors and representatives of UN agencies, funds, and programmes

Cost of participation

The course fee of $5,500 covers the following:

  • Five days of training, including lunches, coffee breaks, as well as an evening reception
  •  A full day professional media training to foster competencies to handle various kinds of interviews and press conferences effectively.
  • Exclusive access to UNSSC's online social learning environment with training and supporting background materials, and the opportunity to stay connected with colleagues.
  • All course materials, resources and contacts.

Participants are expected to cover all travel and lodging costs related to their attendance in the course.

Kyungsun Kim
Representative, Thailand, UNICEF

The UN Country Team (UNCT) Leadership Training renewed our commitment to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and it inspired us to press on and do our best together. The course reminded me to be more strategic and niche-oriented, especially for an Upper Middle-income Country (UMIC) where policy advising is crucial.

Rita Columbia
Representative, Iraq, UNFPA

All my expectations were not only met but exceeded. The course provided significant value, not only to learn but also to experience new things and see sustainable development in action.

John Cockell
Chief - Strategic Planning Unit, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)

The UN Country Team Leadership Course is excellent. It blends perspectives from seasoned UN practitioners and leadership training experts and is enhanced by participants’ experience at country level. The discussions generate interesting and focused insights into current leadership needs and challenges. The UNSSC staff guided us on pivoting to country-level responses that promote better synergies in implementing the 2030 Agenda.