The United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, in partnership with the regional United Nations Development Group (UNDG), held a workshop on the SDGs for Peer Support Group (PSG) and UN Coordination Officers from Europe and Central Asia (ECA) from 27 to 29 June 2017 in Bonn.

This regionally tailored learning initiative was a timely forerunner to the long-awaited release of the UN Secretary-General (SG) Report on “Repositioning the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda”. This was the first workshop of its kind delivered by the UNSSC Knowledge Centre, following its mandate to provide customised learning support to assist UN Country Teams in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The workshop facilitated transformative learning in support of a coherent UN approach that places sustainable development at the heart of the United Nations, with the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs as guiding frameworks. Training themes centered on the substantive elements of the 2030 Agenda, amplifying the UN’s role as a catalyst for transformative change. The workshop specifically addressed the capacity gaps outlined in the SG Report, among others: support for policy integration and a more cohesive UN regional policy voice, data management, monitoring and reporting, partnership building, and the shift from funding to financing.

Capitalising on the UNSSC Knowledge Centre’s inter-agency training role, the workshop offered an ideal setting for cross-learning and exchange among the participants, who built on each other’s experience and expertise. The workshop provided a safe space to ask questions and strengthen trust among UN staff working in the country offices. The workshop also introduced participants to innovative tools such as an animated video creator, which participants used to create simple messages explaining the 2030 Agenda, and a simulation on political economy for sustainable development, which provided participants with a realistic scenario of political and contextual considerations when formulating strategic policy interventions.

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There was concurrence among the participants that the topics and tools presented in the workshop are highly pertinent to their everyday work. PSG members and Coordination Officers provide essential support to UN Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams, and are thus at the forefront of Member States’ country programming processes and delivery. To ensure that UN system support is tailored to national and regional realities, UN staff must have the skills and knowledge, tools and resources, expertise and capabilities needed to support national partners within the context of the 2030 Agenda at the local level.

Indeed, the UN system in the ECA region has moved ahead on multiple fronts and has a commendable history of achievements. Looking forward, participants will seek effective ways to provide timely and high-quality support to their host governments in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.