This hands-on course hones people’s ability to communicate what the United Nations is doing to help a country achieve the 2030 Agenda. It supports professionals to go beyond awareness raising to utilize communications for results. And it boosts people’s skills in strategic communications, impactful storytelling, digital content, data analysis and evaluation. 


Effective communications can strengthen the UN's reputation, positioning and ability to inspire action. The world needs credible and convincing leaders capable of telling powerful stories to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, the world needs UN practitioners who understand the importance of creating a cohesive, effective communications process that is aligned with the vision and mission of the organization. In addition, the world needs messengers of hope who are able to capture people's imagination and offer solutions.

The course will enable participants to:

  • Convey what the UN development system is doing to help a country achieve the SDGs, and to point out what the UN is doing right, what is possible, and how the UN is making a difference
  • Plan strategically for an impactful dissemination of results: Selecting the right channels, addressing the right audiences and transmitting the right messages
  • Mitigate risks while communicating within the context of an emerging or ongoing crisis
  • Create a space for communications during the design and delivery of UN programmes
  • Help expand partnerships and collaboration within UN agencies, governments and other development partners to advance the SDGs

At the end of this course, participants will possess a good understanding of strategic communications, communications coordination, crisis communications, and ways to employ communication tools to advance sustainable development at global and national levels.

  • Understand the Global Communications Strategy of the United Nations and the shift to an audience-focused, impact-oriented approach.
  • Gain improved skills in strategic communications and how to apply them to the 2030 Agenda.
  • Have an improved understanding of crisis communications, reputation management and the management of misinformation.
  • Apply a Theory of Change to communications strategies.
  • Enhance individual communication skills in a selected range of areas for professional development to deliver effectively on the 2030 Agenda.
  • Develop an interagency network of UN communications professionals and focal points to exchange information on best practices and know-how at the global level. 
Course methodology

Over 12 weeks, participants will engage in interactive webinar sessions with high-level experts from the UN system, governments, civil society and the private sector. Through videos and key reading material, participants will dive deeper into each week’s focus area. In addition, case studies, best practices and tutored discussions will illustrate how the UN communicates sustainable development strategically

In contrast to the less collaborative format of traditional Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), UNSSC online courses combine tutored components with synchronous and asynchronous activities, comprising approximately two hours of knowledge acquisition, two hours of knowledge application to real-life and training scenarios, as well as group work and collaboration. In addition to engaging in self-paced learning, participants in UNSSC online courses also benefit from live webinars with renowned experts on sustainable development, allowing real-time virtual interaction between the instructors and participants.

The instructor-led webinars for this course will take place every week between 2 pm – 4 pm CET or 8 am – 10 am EST.

Total duration of the online course: twelve weeks, five hours of weekly study time.

Course contents
  • Week 1: The UN Global Communications Strategy.
  • Week 2: Advocacy.
  • Week 3: Theory of Change.
  • Week4: Study Break.
  • Week 5 (Optional Clinics on Selected Topics): - a)Dealing with Difficult Media
    b)Social Media Analysis, Innovation, & Evaluation
  • Week 6 (Optional Clinics on Selected Topics): a)Storytelling.
    b)Political Acumen/ Public Affairs
  • Week7: Study Break.
  • Week 8: Crisis Communications.
  • Week 9:Managing Misinformation.
  • Week10: Study Break.
  • Week 11: Citizen Engagement for Sustainable Development.
  • Week 12: Participant Share Fair. 
Target audience

Communications officers and associates from the UN system or UN practitioners assigned as UN communication focal points at country level 

Cost of participation

UNSSC fosters collaborative peer-to-peer learning among its course participants. To achieve this, UNSSC adopts a rigorous methodology in its selection process that considers the course's scope, objectives, and expected outcomes. UNSSC utilizes specific selection criteria for its course participants to promote cohort-based learning and increase course impact. Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up for the moderated online course and be ready to complete an additional comprehensive selection survey after the course registration closes.

Selection criteria:

The selection criteria include quality of motivation, professional experience and knowledge, commitment, diversity (gender, geographic region, sector, etc.), and willingness to contribute to the course.

Selection process:

Register for the course by clicking on the sign-up button. Please provide a clear motivation statement and a short explanation of the benefit you can derive from the course as well as your possible contribution to enriching it. Course registration closes on 5 March 2022.

After the deadline for registration, you will receive a link to a survey to confirm the necessary conditions for course completion (technical requirements and time availability), as well as to answer course-specific questions.

This online course is offered free-of-charge.

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

● Three-months' access to course materials (including 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.