Transforming Economies for Sustainable Development/

Organiser: United Nations System Staff College

Event Detail



8 May, 2023


United Nations System Staff College




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Course Registration opens on 6 March and closes on 15 April 2023

This engaging and thought-provoking 5-week facilitated online course will investigate current economic development paradigms and examine why they necessitate a transformative shift in our understanding of the economic transformation needed for sustainable development. This course will provide a conceptual overview of what this transformation entails and some of the key imperatives to achieve socially just, environmentally sustainable, and thriving economies.


The scale and nature of challenges we face in achieving sustainable development for all necessitate a transformative shift in how we approach the notion of development. Economic transformation is an important component in this multi-dimensional transformation.

The limitations of a narrative that focuses on development mainly as an outcome of protracted growth in economic output, have been revealed far too frequently across time and contexts. Despite substantive gains in global economic output, uneven patterns of socioeconomic progress, increasing inequalities, irreversible environmental damage, inherent economic fragility and a perpetual risk of backsliding at the slightest shock, highlight the need to transform our economies.

This transformation requires us to consider economic development as a goal that needs to be pursued in tandem with, and not privileged over, social well-being and preserving the environment. This course will unpack the concept of economic transformation, why it is necessary, and key policy areas that can help develop environmentally sustainable, socially just, and thriving economies.


Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Evaluate whether the current economic paradigm promotes sustainable development and be aware of alternative economic approaches.
  2. Contextualize the challenges and opportunities of disruptive megatrends, and how they could be addressed through economic policy.
  3. Understand the centrality of public governance and state capacity for effective economic transformation.
  4. Link broader narratives to local and regional realities.
Course methodology

UNSSC online courses are designed to deliver maximum learning outcomes through carefully chosen high-quality learning materials. Our facilitated online courses combine self-paced study modules with applied learning components, such as case studies, interactive exercises, and collaborative group work, specially tailored to the needs of the professional interested in deepening their knowledge on a particular subject matter.

Participants will benefit from live moderated webinars which feature valuable inputs from renowned subject matter experts and allow real-time dialogue with high-level speakers. Webinar recordings are made available to ensure that participants have a flexible and seamless learning experience.

An expert facilitator guides and assists participants throughout the course, and provides real-time feedback on activities and exercises. Our user-friendly social online learning platform provides participants with the opportunity to connect with peers from diverse organizational backgrounds, fostering peer-to-peer learning.

UNSSC online courses give learners the opportunity to complete activities when it best fits their schedule. Participants are largely free to determine their own weekly study plan. Lasting five weeks and demanding six hours of study per week, UNSSC online courses incorporate the same high academic rigour as any UNSSC face-to-face programme.

Course contents

Week 1: Unpacking Economic Transformation: examines global economic trends to argue the need to change course. It then explores alternative economic paradigms that emphasize the need for economic transformation to create environmentally sustainable, socially just and thriving economies to ensure sustainable development for all.

Week 2: Developing environmentally sustainable economies: establishes the need for, and explores ways to enable, a transformative shift towards a low carbon-intensive and resource-efficient production and consumption in such a way that promotes economic activity and creates employment opportunities.

Week 3: Developing Just Economies: explores the social paradoxes in our current economic systems, and how these trends need to be reversed and harnessed in line with principles of justice, equity, and societal well-being.

Week 4: Developing Thriving Economies: focuses on how to develop economies that are not only environmentally sustainable, just and equitable, but also sustainably prosperous through strategic investments and appropriate capacity building. It argues for the importance of domestic resource mobilization, state capacity and structural transformations.

Week 5: Effective Governance for Economic Transformation: discusses the importance of effective state policy and strong public institutions in effecting economic transformation. It explores examples from developing contexts that could guide similar initiatives in other countries.

Target audience

The course seeks participants engaged in policy development, advisory, research and programming roles. These can include:

  1. Policy Influencers at National Planning Ministries, National Bodies, Ministries of Economy, Finance and related domains
  2. UN Staff engaged in Economic Policy Advisory and Programming roles
  3. Researchers from academia and think-tanks
  4. University/College Faculty in domains related to Public/Economic policy from developing countries.

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