We are all called to lead, act, and transform. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents an imperative for change and a need for inspiring leadership all around the globe.  Achieving a sustainable future requires leaders who have the knowledge, capabilities, and skills to address complex challenges through systems change. Sustainable development challenges often pose wicked problems that require holistic leadership approaches in-depth and innovation across boundaries and stakeholders. The UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development enables senior leaders across all sectors to strengthen their cross-pillar knowledge and experience in the areas of sustainable development. 

This programme is an immersive six-month virtual learning journey that features one weekly three-hour virtual synchronous class, where participants get the opportunity to engage with thematic experts and established leaders to gain insights on leadership for sustainable development and systems change.

Course Highlights
Course Highlights
The What: Sustainable Development

The programme includes lectures, groupwork and panel discussions on key topics for achieving sustainable development and systems transformation. Renown experts and faculty from the Hertie School – The University of Governance in Berlin, and the National University of Singapore – Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, are a key feature that make the programme unique through a combination of academic rigour, research and insights with the latest advances in sustainable development. Topics include, for example, scenario building and foresight, global environmental governance, negotiation and mediation. 

The Me: Leadership Inner Circles

The leadership inner circles are small coaching sessions aimed at building participants’ leadership competencies for sustainability systems change. Using innovative approaches to leadership, participants will strengthen their skills in the following areas:  

  • Human-centered and inclusive leadership 

  • Leading transformation and motivating teams in times of uncertainty 

  • Influencing, networking, and stakeholder management 

  • Executive presence and personal branding 

  • Agile mindset and emotional intelligence 

The We: Unpacking Real-Life Cases Through Peer-Exchange

Building on participants’ wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience, these sessions provide space for peer exchange, peer coaching, building a network of leaders on sustainable development. Peer exchange groups unpack challenges and issues through interpersonal interchanges that are based on trust and commitment. Expert facilitators guide the peer exchange group to focus participants’ energy and attention to achieve learning outcomes that can spur leaders’ action for systems transformation, in achieving sustainable development. These sessions are equally enjoyable, creative and strengthen substantial knowledge, while building strong networks.

Face-to-Face Encounter: Programme Finale

The programme includes a 4-day final encounter in either Berlin or Singapore, hosted by one of the partner institutions. This encounter provides experiential learning and reflection on practical experiences. The days include site visits, facilitated peer exchanges, role plays, and discussions on the latest discussions on sustainable development and systems transformation. Exploring the city’s history, cultural, political, and gastronomical highlights are also part of the menu. 

Join the next UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development

UNSSC partners with an array of outstanding institutions on the UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development, including civil society organizations, NGOs, private sector and academic institutions. With the support of the German Government, UNSSC delivers this programme together with the Hertie School, the University of Governance, in Berlin, as well as with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, in Singapore. A shared commitment to learning, diverse perspectives, innovation and knowledge creation underpins our partnerships, which provide programme participants the knowledge, skills, and competencies they need to be successful. 

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Hertie School
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

The programme features world-class faculty members who bring a combination of academic rigour, research and knowledge insights, and the latest advances in sustainable development.

Faculty members hail from different institutions which include the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC)the Hertie School – The University of Governance in Berlin, the National University of Singapore – Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and AC Power Coaching.  


Participants of the UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development are selected on the basis of their demonstrated commitment to sustainable development leadership and their interest in growing and developing as a leader. They come from a wide range of industry sectors to benefit from a unique opportunity to build relationships with a global network of sustainable development leaders.

See who has been on the programme
What people are saying
Kotchakorn Voraakhom
Landscape Architect and Sustainable Design Pioneer

“This course has enabled me to hear insights and experiences from leaders from different fields. I have learned techniques that have helped me become more adaptive as a leader.”

Chrysafo Arvaniti
Project Manager, MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières)

Being a participant in the UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development has been a unique and meaningful learning journey. Such a privilege to meet and share this journey with many inspiring and passionate social impact leaders from around the world. A big thank you to the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Hertie School! 

João Vitor Faria Domingues
General Coordinator, ENAP (Brazilian National School of Public Administration)

In global forums for sustainable development, I usually feel very small and vulnerable compared to the global challenges of our time. However, this programme has made me feel stronger. It encouraged me to be the protagonist of a story of transformative change to empower people, break down the silos and change systems. 

Carl Manlan
Vice President, VISA

A unique learning experience that was relevant, and timely in bringing critical knowledge to global executives. We learned how to navigate a changing world with the latest leadership tools. It was a deep dive into endless possibilities. We harnessed our collective energy for a sustainable world. 

Michael Croft
Head of Office and UNESCO Representative

The core value of the UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development is its strong interdisciplinary nature, from the content to the participants. Every week, we moved out of our personal and professional comfort zones to be exposed to different concepts and perceptions. We have drawn inspiration from each other to do something with what we learned and push boundaries to effect change.

Carola Carazzone
Secretary General, ASSIFERO

I loved the unique opportunity to dive into sustainable development in all its intersectionality and interdisciplinary. I was exposed to uncomfortable and extremely meaningful conversations with amazing changemakers coming from a variety of backgrounds and approaches. The inner circles and 'leadershift' will be life-changing for me. I am inspired and motivated to do better.

Yunus Arikan
Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI

This was truly a transformative, and inspirational programme. This is exactly what we need to accelerate our collective struggle to attain sustainability goals at every level and community. 

Dwiti Chandragupta Vikramaditya
Vice President, KISS University & KIIT University

The journey with the UN Executive Leadership Programme on Sustainable Development has been insightful. It covered global and regional aspects. Participants were given adequate to share their views and prior experience working as international development professionals. It was an excellent platform for dialogue among outstanding development professionals. I appreciate the UNSSC team for this leadership journey.

Francisca Boher Elton
Strategic Partnerships, Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES)

Excellent course that delivers concrete tools from top-level researchers. 

Irene Guijt
Head of Evidence and Strategic Learning, OXFAM Great Britain

The programme touched on the key topics that lay the foundation for resolving the crises of today. I always looked forward to each session and did not want to miss any. I loved the mix of participants! It is wonderful to know there are these great and inspiring people in the world!

Who should apply
Who should apply

The programme seeks to attract global leaders with a proven track record in sustainable development. UNSSC welcomes professionals from international organizations, the private sector, academia, governments and civil society organizations.  

We encourage you to register for the programme here if you are interested in joining the 2022-2023 cohort. A member of our Admissions Team will get in touch with you for the next step of the selection process.

For more information