In the two years since its establishment in January 2016, the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development in Bonn has grown from strength to strength. With the support from the Federal Government of Germany, and leveraging the presence of about 20 United Nations (UN) entities in Bonn, UNSSC has positioned itself as the institute of choice for learning and training around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.   

In 2017, we rolled out our full suite of offerings promoting a holistic and integrated approach to address the multi-dimensional nature of sustainable development for the UN system and beyond.

We continued to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the approaches required in supporting national governments to implement it through our knowledge products and services. The UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development also focused on equipping participants with substantive knowledge about the Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as specific capacities and skills needed to implement the Agenda through face-to-face and online courses.

In addition, the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development is  a valued provider and partner for learning and training in the field of sustainable development, offering expertise on approaches to address development challenges to partners from the UN, governments, civil society, and academia, among others.

Our learning points: Key trends in 2017

Our experience in 2017 affirmed a growing demand for our learning approaches and methodologies within and beyond the UN. In particular, we observed two key trends:

Key Trend 1: Growing interest in learning and training around the 2030 Agenda among representatives from government, civil society, academia, the private sector, and international organisations

In 2017, about one-third of total participants for our fee-based courses and events came from organisations including government agencies, civil society organisations, academia, private sector organisations and international organisations. We saw significant uptake in our offerings from the government sector, especially for our course on South-South & Triangular Cooperation and the Foundational Course, as well as our annual flagship event, the UN Summer Academy, which brought together 86 participants from 46 countries for a five-day programme featuring a variety of local sustainable development solutions.

We also received requests to provide tailored trainings for key policy-makers, especially in the area of South-South cooperation—a further indication of interest in new approaches to sustainable development among national agencies.

To build on this wide-ranging and cross-sectoral interest, the Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development also launched various online knowledge products and initiatives, which were accessed by individuals from around the globe. These knowledge products included explainer videos on Understanding the Dimensions of Sustainable Development and accompanying primers in eight languages, as well as explainer videos developed jointly with relevant UN agencies on topics ranging from gender and the human security approach to migratory species  and climate action, several expert video interviews, and blog articles, among others.

In 2017, we piloted a series of webinars known as Sustainable Development (SD) Talks, engaging over 1,800 individuals from the UN and beyond on a variety of issues pertinent to the sustainable development discourse, including financing and data for sustainable development. In cooperation with UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), we also rolled out six episodes focusing on climate action. To catalyse awareness raising efforts, we embarked on a joint initiative with the simpleshow foundation, the UNSSC-simpleshow Volunteer Initiative in August 2017, to engage volunteers in creating explainer videos on the Agenda and its SDGs.  

Overall, we have observed an encouraging trend where the ‘lifespans’ of our knowledge products have extended beyond our own platforms. They have been incorporated in training programmes or knowledge platforms hosted by other agencies such as the Hellenistic Statistical Authority and the UN Information Centre (UNIC), which have respectively added Greek and Japanese subtitles to our explainer video. UN agencies including UNFCCC, the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Office, and the UN in Brussels, among others, have used our materials as learning resources. In some cases, these agencies have also referred to our approaches and methodologies, complementing their own agency-specific programmes.

Key Trend 2: Increased demand for tailored offerings

The UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development recorded a five-fold increase in contractual engagements to deliver tailored offerings for specific UN agencies and other organisations in 2017, reaching out to over 420 participants from the UN system and government agencies.

For UN agencies, our trainings aimed to position agency-specific mandates in the context of the UN Secretary-General’s call for renewed country programming processes. These agencies included the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), UN Environment, as well as the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Support Group and UN Coordination Officers

Responding to demand for results-focused programming—in particular, the need to demonstrate common and consistent results within the UN development system—the Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development carried out tailored Results-Based Management (RBM) trainings using examples from the field for UNDP in Iraq, the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, and the UN in Turkey.

For government agencies, our trainings aimed to enable and embed capacities for multi-stakeholder partnerships to implement the 2030 Agenda.

To step up support for South-South cooperation, the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Regional Division for Arab States, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) launched a joint capacity building initiative on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). In total, we delivered nine trainings for over 190 government administrators and officials in Algeria, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Turkey, Sudan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan. As a result of the rapport built with UNOSSC in 2017, the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development was subsequently identified as a key learning and training partner for the UNOSSC.

Building on our experiences in 2017, the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development will continue to strengthen and communicate the sustainable development narrative going forward. Our offerings will also focus on empowering stakeholders, and facilitating integrated and transformative action for sustainable development.

More information on the full range of offerings by the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development can be found in our Portfolio, available for download here. For enquiries on how the Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development can support the learning and training needs of your organisation, write to us at