UN leaders and national partners need to take a number of critical steps to effectively support countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to participants in a recent UN country team leadership course organized by the UN System Staff College.

In a joint statement, course participants called for ramped up leadership for SDG advocacy and strategic communication, for a mind-set shift and behavioural change towards collaborative leadership, and for more effective approaches towards financing the SDGs.

These efforts are meant to support the reform of the UN development system to ensure that it is fit to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by Member States in 2015.

“As a system, we must focus on national priorities in such a way that a coherent UN response is developed at country level” said course participants, who were made up of senior leaders from UN agencies working in over 15 countries where the UN has development operations.  

“This will entail all agencies articulating together their collective value proposition, with a clear understanding of how each agency feeds into the overall narrative, with its specific programmes, while identifying how best to include other actors whose expertise, capacities and resources will be required to advance sustainable development in country, across borders and over time,” participants said.

In order to foster a shift in mind-set, participants agreed to strive to “give overarching priority to the best responses we can collectively come up with to achieve progress on national priorities, and identify the most conducive combination of entities and programmes likely to produce the most impactful results.” To help make this a reality, participants emphasized that a percentage of budgetary resources under a given UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework – which reflects the UN’s planned contribution to sustainable development in a country – should be dedicated to joint programmes.

To mobilize the trillions required to finance the achievement of the SDGs, the UN system must increasingly play a role in leveraging additional financial flows towards sustainable development outcomes, course participants declared. “This includes engaging with the private sector, investment funds and other actors to incentivize innovation, entrepreneurship and investment in issues, initiatives, products and services that are likely to advance human wellbeing for all within planetary boundaries.”

The course referenced above which brought together UN staff took place on 7-11 October and was entitled the “UN Country Team Leadership course.” The next edition, which will take place on 11-15 May 2020, is currently open for registration.  Building on the repositioning process of the UN Development System, this executive five-day programme will strengthen skills and capabilities required for UN leaders to drive the nationally owned and transformative 2030 Agenda, particularly in the areas of integrated policy support, systems-thinking, strategic communications, and collaborative leadership.

An exclusive feature of the programme focuses on experiential learning through a site visit, demonstrating the real-life interconnectedness of the 5Ps—people, planet, prosperity, partnership, and peace. In addition, course participants will receive a high impact professional and personalized media training at the studios of the German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle.