Distinguished delegates, dear colleagues, I am pleased to address the Economic and Social Council on the accomplishments of the United Nations System Staff College. The mission of the College is to contribute to a more effective, results-oriented and agile United Nations System through learning, training and knowledge dissemination.
It has been two years since I last presented to the Council. I invite you to recall that during that session, the Council recognized the continuing work of the Staff College to consolidate its central role in inter-agency learning, training and knowledge sharing, in light of the efforts to equip UN staff worldwide with the knowledge and skills necessary to collaboratively respond to global challenges and work towards the goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Let me start with the progress we have made.
Since 2015 all of the College’s activities have been geared towards enabling the UN system and our partners to address the challenges posed by the adoption of the transformative 2030 Agenda. The College is in a strong position, playing a central role in equipping individuals and organizations with the skills and networks required to achieve success in a rapidly evolving global scenario.
Over the reporting period - our learning initiatives (including residential courses, distance-learning, strategic exchanges and seminars), our knowledge products, and our advisory services reached more than 30,000 UN Staff and partner representatives worldwide. This number represents a 29% increase in beneficiaries over the previous biennium. Our programmes range from leadership and management development, to the development of sectoral and functional competences, essential to international civil servants.
Being an inter-agency institute gives us an unparalleled view, and a deep understanding of the system. We believe that disseminating knowledge and expertise by leveraging relevant, engaging and contemporary methods will not only enable the development of capacity within the UN but also support member states in implementing the agenda
With each year, we continue to innovate and grow, gaining prominence on the system’s radar. We have continued to display a bold, experimental mind-set which is reflected in our growing portfolio - which already includes organizational change and innovation, communication and advocacy, leadership and management development, safety and security , sustainable development, and sustaining peace. Leadership and management continue to remain part of our core focus
To further elaborate, allow me to share some highlights:
In 2015 we provided 84 learning activities;this number soared to 122 in 2016 to meet rising demand. A number of these activities have been in collaboration with various organizations including Google from the private sector, Oxfam – a leading NGO, and a plethora of premier academic institutions including Harvard Business School, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics. Committing to the interconnectedness advocated in the 2030 agenda, the College has built partnerships that go beyond more traditional alliances
One of our major accomplishments during the reporting period has been the successful launch of UNLOCK - The UN Laboratory for Organizational Change and Knowledge. By placing innovation, collaboration, leadership and staff engagement at its core, UNLOCK is working to shift how the UN system learns, thinks and works. The lab offers a set of interventions designed to connect the entire UN family in advancing organizational change at all levels through advisory services and learning activities.
Another highlight has been the creation of the Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development. We have established a world class learning space in Bonn, Germany, putting ourselves at the forefront of learning for sustainable development. The UNSSC Knowledge Centre fosters inter-agency coherence, and strengthens dialogue and networks within and beyond the UN system. The Centre’s role in inter-agency learning, knowledge sharing, and knowledge management enhances coherence of development interventions and increases operational and conceptual capacity of UN staff and partners. The Knowledge Centre acts as an additional venue, away from the headquarters in Turin, Italy. We are immensely grateful to the Government of Italy for hosting our headquarters in Turin, and to the government of Germany for hosting our Knowledge Centre in Bonn
We are focussed on creating and mobilising networks of change agents throughout the UN system.We have deepened our ability to provide advisory services and are even working with UNDP to provide specialised advice where relevant. Our goal of sharing knowledge is being realised through freely available case studies, lessons, good practices and other knowledge management offerings
We are enjoying increasing dividends emerging from our investments in blended and technology-led training, collaborative tools, informal learning, and individual coaching. The College is transforming itself from a training provider to the UN’s learning hub.
We have accomplished all of this with less than 40 staff members and are making a place for ourselves as the UN’s centre of excellence for learning. We are committed to enabling staff and partners to embrace the challenges that come with working towards the transformative agenda. I am also pleased to report that the College continues to derive a majority of its funding (approximately 59%) from self-generated sources, despite the realities of the current global financial situation
As pointed out by Secretary-General Guterres: “With their professionalism, expertise and dedication, [staff] are the UN’s most important resource. A resource that has to be cared for, developed, used efficiently, and whose voice needs to be heard”.
The UNSSC is dedicated to this precious resource. We are well positioned as a strategic ally for Member States and UN entities interested in developing capacity-building initiatives that make integrated thinking and change a core objective. We are committed to collaborating with our partner agencies, specifically focusing on how learning and training can further result in a more effective, efficient, collaborative and agile workforce throughout the system
The 2030 Agenda obliges United Nations leadership to adopt a “Working as one” vision that goes well beyond specific agency perspectives. We are determined to become the learning arm of the UN system that supports staff and stakeholders in building capacity through our learning and advisory portfolio. We are also in the process of developing our 4-year strategic plan for 2018 to 2021 which will continue to prioritise the transformative agenda
Distinguished delegates, colleagues and friends, let me conclude: Together, we can facilitate organizational transformation by sharing experiences in implementing positive change. We must develop and equip our greatest asset – our people
The Staff College looks forward to continuing to work with you in the same collaborative spirit we enjoyed so far
Thank you for your attention.
The opinions expressed in our blog posts are solely those of the authors. They do not reflect the opinions or views of UNSSC, the United Nations or its members.