annual report

Focus Area I:
Increase knowledge
and competencies

We advanced knowledge and learning to enable UN staff and partners at all levels and in all roles and functions to increase their substantive knowledge, core professional skills and functional competencies.

With many of our staff and relevant partners working remotely, COVID-19 caused a level of disruption that most were not prepared for. Remote working conditions allowed the College to provide a robust training plan of courses accessible from home, via telework, to advance the skillsets of UN staff and key partners.

rose to the challenge to:

Cutting-edge skills enabled leaders across the system to collaboratively design and implement relevant solutions to deliver results.

rose to the challenge to:

Build diverse skill sets

Building a range of varied skills was core to the numerous offerings that were delivered online in 2020. In strengthening the collective capacities of UN system entities and partners, we remained true to our mission – ensuring that we support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the sustaining peace resolutions and management reform.

The rapidly changing nature of conflict and violence made it critical for UN personnel and partners to be grounded in the complexity of the global landscape. The newly redesigned course, “Analyzing and Engaging Armed Groups” , equipped practitioners with methodologies to analyse these groups given the unique contexts in which they have operated during the pandemic. “Conflict Analysis for Sustaining Peace” was re-scoped to provide cutting-edge analytical skills – data interpretation, problem-solving and reporting rooted in an understanding of the concepts, core components and phases of conflict analysis. The learning in turn enabled participants to integrate conflict analysis into planning and programming processes and better identify priorities and entry points to build and sustain peace.

Through vibrant virtual peer exchanges, the College advanced dialogue on the importance of integrating conflict analysis into established procedures, understanding conflict indicators, articulating good practices and quality criteria to conduct conflict analysis. Implementing peace resolutions in complex environments requires specialized operational knowledge. In partnership with the Department of Safety and Security, the College delivered the “Advanced Safe Driver Training” and “Road Safety Management” courses to enhance security awareness skills through Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments. The learning was maximized through train-the-trainer programmes for UN security personnel and affiliated organizations, enabling personnel to be deployed swiftly to volatile and dangerous areas.

From gaining insights into the causes and consequences of violent conflict, to elaborating on the dynamics supporting or undermining peace efforts, and the needs and interests of diverse stakeholders – our staff and partner organizations were ready to address emerging challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Our learning offerings prioritized open-mindedness, sensitivity, respect and adaptation to local conflict contexts.

The College was instrumental in the delivery of learning solutions to enable nimble, effective, transparent, accountable, efficient and pragmatic leadership and management at the height of the pandemic.

The newly scoped “UN System Executive Management Programme” , “Extended E-Certificate on Leadership and Management” and the “Project Management Certification path” quickly emerged as vital offerings to help managers integrate more principled, accountable and inclusive approaches to managing themselves and their teams. Cutting-edge skills in adaptive leadership, effective communication, systems thinking, project management and results-based management enabled leaders across the system to collaboratively design and implement relevant solutions to deliver results. A surge in requests for courses from the Staff College suggested that the pandemic was driving demand for new learning. The College significantly contributed to providing insights on novel and innovative approaches to learning and professional development. Through the “Learning Managers Forum” , converted to an online event for the first time, several learning managers took part in strategic discussions on how to address the new learning needs that resulted from the pandemic. With a focus on making learning more accessible, participants explored new approaches to learning and professional development, and shared ideas on how to continue contributing to formulating a common learning agenda among UN agencies and other international organizations.

To build on the evaluation management capabilities of UN staff, the College developed the “E-Learning Path on Evaluation Management” , in order to help accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The programme supported participants with key knowledge on the understanding and application of methods and tools needed for conducting and managing evaluations in the UN context.


Analyzing and Engaging Armed Groups

“One of the benefits that I think will have the greatest influence is that the course puts programming staff and security advisors into the same conversations about non-state armed groups – enabling them to learn from each other's perspectives so as to better understand WFP's full scope of considerations in complex contexts.”

- Erin Blankenship, Regional Peace and Conflict Advisor at the World Food Programme (WFP)

rose to the challenge to:

rose to the challenge to:

Promote learning on climate change

The College’s learning programmes were essential to improving climate literacy and helping practitioners understand and address the impact of climate change. Two courses, “The Paris Agreement on Climate Change as a Development Agenda” and “Climate Sensitive Programming for Sustaining Peace” , advanced learning to demonstrate the interlinkages and interdependencies between sustainable development, peace and security and climate change. They helped staff and partners make more informed policy and programmatic decisions. Practitioners gained new knowledge on tools and instruments to mainstream sustainable development and climate action into national development policies and peace programming. Interactive course webinars facilitated discussion on the different methodologies and techniques to analyze and measure climate-related risks, and built robust solutions across the critical dimensions of sustainable development: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.


The Paris Agreement on Climate Change as a Development Agenda course

““The course helped me to think more deeply about my research and my activities and exposed me to other people’s perspectives, including scientists from different cultures around the world with different challenges and political situations than mine.””

- Kirsten Florentine Weber, PhD student at the University of Sheffield

Digital learning accelerated quickly, even for learning institutions that were lagging behind.

Develop digital skills

Digital learning accelerated quickly, even for learning institutions that were lagging behind. Some leveraged various platforms and successfully reskilled staff for changing roles, while other institutions faced a number of challenges. The College quickly responded by developing offerings for training professionals. Two offerings focused on providing new digital skills and virtual delivery methods to ensure continuous learning.

The new “From in-classroom to e-learning” and “Delivering Engaging Live Virtual Training” were instrumental in helping a massive pool of UN staff and partners navigate the digital transformation. These two programmes were particularly useful for trainers and specialists involved in the delivery of training workshops who, due to the global lockdown, were confronted with uncertainty and faced serious challenges in delivering face-to-face courses.


From In-classroom Training to E-learning: A Hands-on Workshop

“This programme has given me more self-confidence in using online tools and techniques. Delivering online workshops and webinars with an appropriate course design and new interactive tools has become an everyday practice since I attended the programme.”

- Agnes Novoszel, Senior Staff Development Associate at UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency

Knowledge dissemination and skills development are core elements of the College’s mission. In 2020, we continued to adhere to these principles.

Offer free access to new skills and knowledge

Knowledge dissemination and skills development are core elements of the College’s mission. In 2020, we continued to adhere to these principles, delivering learning and knowledge on various topics that support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. The “Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development” , “SDG Primer” , “Anti-Corruption in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” , “Circular Economy and the 2030 Agenda” courses provided an opportunity for different actors to share substantive knowledge and experiences on sustainable development through networking opportunities, platforms and safe spaces for cross-sectoral dialogue. With support from the Federal Government of Germany, the College was able to leverage digital learning to successfully upskill and reskill UN staff and relevant partners for a changing world.

To help managers pivot to meet the challenges of a disruptive time – the College developed the UN Leadership in Times of Uncertainty" course which was offered offered for free during the first wave of the pandemic. The course played an integral role in the reskilling of almost 2,000 managers across the UN system. Surveyed participants indicated that the learning offering helped them face challenges, ranging from helping employees deal with stress, to managing teams remotely.


Anti-Corruption in the Context of the 2030 Agenda

“I have definitely gained knowledge and new resources to strengthen my work. This will undoubtedly help add value to the interventions we make from the team and expand and strengthen our work within our country office with our partners and stakeholders, as well as with other UN entities.”

- Patricia Pérez Prieto, Programme Officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The College advanced learning on evaluation design and evaluation methods, complemented by mentoring and on-the-job assignments.

Create flexible and inclusive customized learning

To address the unique training needs of different stakeholders, we enhanced our varied learning offerings through customized solutions designed to meet the organizational goals and learner needs of different UN entities and partners.
The “UNSSC-FAO Executive Leadership Certificate Programme” provided FAO leaders with advanced-level knowledge on management and leadership, practical skills and networks necessary to ensure robust organizational performance. The programme was recognized for having a tangible impact on the insights and behaviours of leaders at the FAO, as well as their openness to change management. It has brought about a deeper understanding of what good leadership means in practical terms.

The “UN Emerging Leaders e-Learning for the Economic Commission for Africa” staff was customized and redesigned to meet the management and leadership realities of middle managers amid the changing global context, particularly due to COVID-19. The College’s “Rights and Results-based Management Training of Trainers” for UNICEF staff at the Regional Office for South Asia played a vital role in supporting the entity achieve coherence, effectiveness and results in line with the UN’s results-based management principles. A number of similar projects were rolled out throughout the year to support individual agencies as they dealt with the impacts of COVID-19.

The “UNICEF-UNSSC Evaluation Learning Programme” contributed to meeting the unique needs of a diverse UNICEF workforce. The blended programme included a first part, delivered and facilitated online, and a second face-to-to-face edition. The College advanced learning on evaluation design and evaluation methods, complemented with mentoring and on-the-job assignments.

At the College, we developed initiatives that promoted dialogue and innovative solution mapping on the 2030 Agenda, the sustaining peace resolutions and management reform.

Promote knowledge sharing among youth changemakers

Pervasive inequalities, visible in the extent to which women, young women and young men are able to participate in matters of peace and security, and in discussions on the 2030 Agenda, were exacerbated as the world responded to COVID-19. This argued for knowledge sharing and dialogue with different changemakers and youth actors across the UN system and beyond. At the College we developed initiatives that promoted dialogue and innovative solution mapping on the 2030 Agenda, sustaining peace resolutions management reform.

In a challenging year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, The “Torino Forum for Sustaining Peace” , sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supported efforts to advance the Women, Peace and Security as well as the Youth, Peace and Security agendas by sparking dialogue, inspiring action and invigorating learning among women and youth peacebuilders – alongside UN staff and practitioners.

The first virtual 9th “UN Summer Academy” sponsored by the Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia, and in partnership with the City of Bonn, was delivered under the theme “UN at 75: The Future We Want” which focused on reaffirming the global commitment to multilateralism as the world community faced a global health crisis with severe short-term and long-term economic and social impacts.

The Virtual 2020 Junior Professional Officer Orientation Programme – an intensive programme designed to train new Junior Professional Officers, empowered young aspirant UN leaders to gain leadership skills and embark on their new roles with a renewed confidence and resilience.


UN Summer Academy

“Since the programme was convened online due to the pandemic, it made me realize the importance of leveraging technological solutions and building momentum over social media for sustainable actions and for a better world for youth, women, and all those marginalized.””

- Nadine Burbar, Deputy Chief Resilience Officer at the City of Ramallah