21 November 2019, Geneva, Switzerland - On 21 November 2019, UNITAR hosted the first meeting of UN SDG:Learn Steering Group in Geneva, organized together with the UN System Staff College (UNSSC). The Steering Group is composed of representatives of 51 partner organizations, making up 53 UN SDG:Learn partners in total with UNITAR and UNSSC. The main objective of the meeting was to jointly discuss the ways forward in terms of leveraging UN SDG:Learn to amplify each organizations’ efforts in serving the needs of their target audiences, sharing experiences and innovative approaches on delivering effective learning, as well as promoting synergies across the work of partners on the SDGs.

The meeting opened with remarks by Mr. Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of UNITAR, who welcomed all partners – participating in person and via online connection - and stressed the importance of working together to jump forward the work towards achieving the SDGs.

UN SDG:Learn, an initiative proposed by UNITAR and UNSSC, was launched earlier this year on the side-lines of the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July. The meeting discussed the three components around which the initiative has been designed, i.e.,  Partnership, Programme, and Platform and addressed issues related to governance and quality assurance. Several opportunities have been identified during a dedicated brainstorming session for interested Partners to engage more actively into further development of the initiative and design additional Platform functionalities around the idea of “learning pathways”.

Furthermore, the meeting has allowed to discuss how to bolster communication efforts to increase the outreach as well as how to evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative. As of November 2019, 115 courses and microlearning were available on the platform with more than 3000 users. The users were represented by 161 countries and mainly by learners ranging from 18 to 44 years.

Among other topics discussed by the Partners represented by the UN Agencies, Academia, and Private Sector were the creation of a user profile for more catered and needs-based learning recommendations, the introduction of organic content such as podcasts and blogs among others, and the launch of special landing pages. UN SDG:Learn is in the process of launching its first special landing page that will aim to meet the learning needs in the area of official statistics and data and will be curated by UN Statistics Division and the Global Network of Institutions for Statistical Training (GIST). It was proposed by Regional Commissions that further tailoring would be required to make sure the regional landing pages promote regional initiatives and better serve the respective regions’ needs.

The meeting concluded with a summary of key milestones for 2020 and the expression of interest for the organization of 2 to 3 working groups. The next steering group meeting will be hosted by UNSSC and will take place in Bonn in 2020.

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