While considerable efforts have been made towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there remains a great deal of work to be done. In 2017, the Sustainable Development Goals Report emphasized that the rate of progress in many areas must increase in order for the world to achieve the sustainable development targets by 2030. Indeed, ambitious aims such as ending hunger, increasing quality education, and fighting global warming are complex and interconnected. In order to act for the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need an integrated approach that recognizes these complexities and interconnections, so that we can coherently implement the Agenda at every level.

If you are interested to learn more about the Agenda, and better understand the role you can play at a personal and institutional level in contributing to the implementation of the SDGs, we invite you to register for the sixth edition of the UNSSC Foundational Course on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (5 March - 6 April 2018). Launched in 2016 by the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, this online course provides a concrete learning opportunity for UN staff, partners, and the wider public to learn and examine the sustainable development agenda.

To provide personalised insights into the course, we asked a few alumni of the September 2017 edition to share their key takeaways from the course, as well as their advice for future course participants.

Armineh Haladjian
Officer-in-Charge at the Yerevan Office of the UN Department of Public Information in Armenia
Benjamin Heras Cruz
Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Planning and Environmental Policy in Mexico
Simret Teame
US Liaison Office at UNAIDS in Washington D.C
Vlastimil Samek
Representative of the UN Department of Public Information and heads the United Nations Information Office in Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan

The learning experience

The Foundational Course is designed to go beyond delivering strong substantive content, to providing a broader experience in which participants engage with experts and each other in a variety of collaborative formats.  Simret, Vlastimil, and Benjamin spoke to this by emphasizing not only the quality of the substance, but also the approach of the instructors, the flexibility of the online format, and the peer-to-peer learning.

Simret said, ‘The course was well structured. Its contents provided a useful background and historical context of the sustainable development agenda including the rationale for the transition from MDG (2015) to SDG (2030). It also provided concrete illustrations by way of case study on the practical impact of the different targets and the role of agencies in spearheading the achievement of the interrelated SDGs. The course is a stepping stone to the bigger picture of the sustainable development subject. I would like to continue studying and eventually be part of the change.’

Vlastimil added, ‘It was a truly great experience. The course and specifically an excellent UNSSC team and lecturers had not only provided a lot of useful and valuable information but certainly helped to look at the 2030 Agenda from different angles that offered much broader understanding of all the challenging tasks as well the best ways how the results could be successfully achieved.’

Benjamin concluded, ‘It was great, sometimes it was challenging to mix work and studies, but at the end the outcome was worth it. The flexibility of taking the course online is the greatest benefit, as well as the possibility to interact with like-minded people around the globe.’

Practical relevance of the course

Vlastimil, Armineh, and Benjamin applied the knowledge and materials from the course for advocacy and information sharing about the SDGs, and to strategically align work with the Agenda.

Vlastimil noted, ‘All the acquired knowledge will form an inseparable part of the essential know-how that will be further shared with the public (that includes young people, students, academia, government officials, media, etc.) through the United Nations public information outreach.’

Similarly, Armineh said, ‘I have already made use of some of the important materials I had access to during this course in my presentations. They came to logically complete my presentation on SDGs. I will continue using them further on.’

Benjamin added, ‘It has been helping me to better integrate our work and to align it with the SDGs and overall agenda objectives. I have a clearer idea on the implementation of the Agenda and the interaction of all the government agencies throughout the Goals.’

Advice for future participants

Simret, Armineh, and Benjamin all emphasized the importance of applying the knowledge gained in the course, whether through integration into current work, advocacy, or public policy.

Simret said, ‘The foundational course gives a good background on what sustainable development means and we should look into a way to integrate the knowledge in whatever areas we are currently working on.’

Armineh added, ‘Participate in this course. It gives you a full picture of what SDGs are and how they can be implemented to be achieved by 2030. Only learning and telling about them, as well as getting involved in their implementation will help the 17 goals to be achieved!’

Finally, Benjamin advised future participants ‘to put special attention to the webinars, to stay active in the forums and to try to apply as much as possible in your jobs. As we get more familiar with the 2030 Agenda, things are easier and clearer, since it is very useful to understand how to align it with public policy.’

Do you want to deepen your understanding of the key concepts and principles of sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, as well as the features and role of the SDGs results framework, and how the means of implementation and global partnerships will play an essential role for the success of the Agenda? Join our next edition of the online foundational course on the 2030 Agenda from 05 March to 06 April 2018. For more information, please click here.