Amidst the disruption and global uncertainty facing the world today, global dialogue and action is more critical than ever. In this context, the virtual UN Summer Academy will address key challenges to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a post COVID-19 context, particularly in the areas of health and well-being, economic transformation, and climate action.

The 2021 virtual UN Summer Academy builds on the rich legacy of a very successful virtual edition in 2020, as well as eight face-to-face editions. As in previous editions, the Academy combines academic rigour with cutting-edge thinking, providing participants with unparalleled learning and networking opportunities. It facilitates and fosters dialogue with thought and action leaders who are currently working towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Participants will explore transformative approaches required for implementation of the 2030 Agenda and share concrete examples and practices from diverse country contexts and stakeholder perspectives.

At the same time, this virtual edition capitalizes on the additional opportunities offered by its online format. Through experiential learning methodologies, participants will engage with a wide range of expert inputs, as well as in peer-to-peer learning, knowledge exchange and collaborative co-creation.

Thanks to the generous support of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, this course is offered at a reduced price of $500.



Upon successful completion of the UN Summer Academy, participants will:

  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the key notions underpinning the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change;
  • Demonstrate an improved understanding of the key challenges and opportunities facing sustainable developmentin the wake of COVID-19
  • Have benefitted from unparalleled networking opportunities, and demonstrate an increased awareness of the role of different development partners; and
  • Have received exposure to good practices and conceptual approaches in the area of sustainable development. 

Course Methodology

Course Methodology: 

Recognizing that transformative learning cannot take place through classical chalk and talk lectures, the UN Summer Academy is designed using experiential online learning methodologies that combine panel discussions featuring high-level speakers with interactive opportunities for knowledge exchange and experience sharing.

The virtual Summer Academy will be synchronous, meaning participants will be expected to be online at the same time during specified hours. (Plenary sessions with all participants will take place between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. CEST. In order to accommodate the widest possible range of international participation, UNSSC will offer small-group breakout activities in two blocks: once in the morning, CEST, and again in the evening, CEST.)

The Summer Academy will feature a variety of moderated online learning formats, including: live webinars with thought leaders; small-group breakout activities for reflection and knowledge-exchange; and applied labs in which participants will apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the Academy. Moreover, the UN Summer Academy places a premium on fun and relationship-building. This will remain a key priority in the virtual edition, including through networking sessions in which participants showcase their work, games, and other social activities. 

Course Contents

Course Contents: 

The UN Summer Academy introduces conceptual approaches underpinning the notion of sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The 2021 programme will explore sustainable development in the post COVID-19 context from a multi-sectoral perspective, focusing on three critical themes: health and well-being, economic transformation, and climate action. Participants will look at how transformative conceptual approaches of systems thinking, futures thinking, and design thinking can address these issues in a complex and volatile context. Alongside these core themes and conceptual approaches, the programme will also feature trending sustainable development topics such as green finance and frontier technologies. Experts will highlight the latest developments in these areas and their potential contribution to sustainable development efforts.

Target Audience

Target Audience: 

UN young professionals, national and local government representatives, civil society representatives, academics, private sector representatives, as well as a select number of doctoral and master's students.

Applicants will be selected on the basis of their professional/academic profile and motivation statement.

Time requirements: As detailed in the “Course Methodology” section above, this is a synchronous course and participants will be expected to be online for four-five specified hours on all five days. Exact times will be shared with successful applicants shortly before the course begins, but UNSSC will offer two time windows: participants can select a window of either 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CEST or 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. CEST).

Technical requirements: To take participate in this online training, participants will need to access the course through a desktop PC or laptop with an internet connection, as well as a functioning webcam, microphone, and speakers. Internet speed and volume should be sufficient for four-five hours of video-conferencing each day. Due to the interactive and applied format of the Academy, it is not possible to participate using a mobile device. Further details on technical requirements will be shared with successful applicants shortly before the course begins. 

Cost of participation

Cost of participation: 

The course fee of $500 USD covers the following:

  • Five days of online training, including a technical orientation* on how to use all online platforms and tools used for the course
  • Exclusive access to a UNSSC 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 costs related to their participation in the Summer Academy.

*NB: Technical support to address issues related to local clients’ software or hardware settings, internet access, and in general all issues requiring access to local clients and infrastructure are outside the scope of UNSSC services.

Certificates from the United Nations System Staff College will be awarded to participants who attend the Summer Academy.

To learn more about the UN Summer Academy and its previous editions, click here.

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