Sustainable development

UN System and Sustainable Development

The institutional background and policy tasks of the UN system

Term Offered
1–29 September 2023

This course presents the institutional background and policy tasks of the UN system, and provides an analytical framework to study complex issues ranging from reducing direct threats to peace, to strengthening sustainable development as an indispensable condition for peace.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. It is a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action for all countries to end poverty, protect the environment, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. To ensure that no one is left behind, a global partnership is necessary. The 17 SDGs are integrated. Action in one area will affect outcomes in others. Development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability. At the same time, the 5Ps of the SDGs are often emphasized: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership.

In this course, we focus on people, prosperity, peace, and partnership among the 5Ps of the SDGs. (“Planet” will be the focus of another UNU‐IC course “Global Change and Planetary Boundaries”). For the topics of this course, several Goals are selected, and then within each Goal, some Targets will be focused for discussion. For each course topic, 1) the current situation is assessed, 2) the challenges in achieving the Goal and some of its Targets will be analyzed, and 3) needed priority action will be discussed. A distinguished academic scholar, with some working experiences within the UN and its family of organizations (UN Funds and Programmes, as well as the Specialized Agencies), will be assigned for each course topic.

Course Topics

  • SDG 2: Nutrition and the roles of UNICEF and the WHO
  • SDG 3: Child Health and the role of UNICEF
  • SDG 3: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and the role of UNFPA
  • SDG 3: Infectious Diseases and the role of the WHO
  • SDG 4: Quality Education for All and the role of UNESCO
  • SDG 4: Quality Education for All and the role of UNICEF
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality: the roles of CEDAW and UN Women
  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation: the roles of the WHO and UNICEF
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and the role of the ILO
  • SDG 9: Innovation and the role of the World Bank
  • SDG 10: Reducing Inequalities and the role of the OHCHR
  • SDG 12: Responsible Production and the role of the UN Global Compact

*Please note that these topics and schedule are subject to change.