Applying Design Thinking in Implementing the 2030 Agenda: An Innovative Approach to Innovation



UN Partner

Offered by

United Nations System Staff College

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Course details

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4 days
24 hours
Bonn, Germany
2500 USD
Start date
25 June 2019
End date
28 June 2019
Registration deadline
19 June 2019

Course summary

Applying the principles of design thinking in the context of sustainable development, this four-day course enables participants to employ integrative and cross-disciplinary thinking in order to develop innovative, human-centred solutions in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

About this course

This programme will enable participants to understand and analyse the design of their organizational initiatives from the perspective of the “end user” i.e. the people, and gain a better understanding of how initiatives can be designed to work for a given local context. By guiding participants through the different stages of the design thinking process, this course will empower them to apply integrative and cross-disciplinary thinking in order to come up with human-centred solutions or reconsider existing organisational initiatives in support of the 2030 Agenda. Participants will also benefit from a design thinking toolkit that will encourage them to apply design thinking in their own context.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demands integrated approaches that are capable of delivering transformative results. This requires viewing development interventions through a holistic lens and assessing their impacts on the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, as well as carefully considering the synergies and trade-offs produced by them. Traditional approaches to development programming that focus on individual sectors and patchwork policy-making are not enough to address the challenges facing the world today in a comprehensive way. Recognising that employing the same approaches over and over again will not yield different results, the notion of sustainable development requires all-of-society to come up with novel, innovative and human-centred approaches. It urges us to go back to the drawing board and think creatively, innovatively and comprehensively.

The notion of design thinking focuses on the human experience. In essence, design thinking is a human-centred systematic approach to problem-solving. When applied in the context of sustainable development, this approach can result in local, collaborative, and participatory initiatives that are founded on the local context rather than being retrofitted to it. Grounded on key thinking paradigms of being holistic, uninhibited, collaborative, iterative, and visual, the design thinking approach fosters integrative and cross-disciplinary thinking.

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Target audience

Heads of UN Agencies at country level and other senior UN staff, as well as senior public and private sector representatives.

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the notion of sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, its vision and principles; and the holistic approach of the 5Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships;
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the key principles and stages of the design thinking process, the concept of innovation and types of innovation;
  • Be able to apply design thinking to analyse development initiatives within a given local context, and be able to apply integrative and cross-disciplinary thinking in support of human-centred and sustainable solutions