The Common Principles for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, endorsed by CEB in April 2016, highlight the critical importance of transformative leadership across the UN system. To effectively support the 2030 Agenda, the Board tasked its high-level committees to jointly develop a shared concept of transformative and collaborative leadership - across different functions, levels, and locations. In follow-up, a joint HLCP/HLCM task team, led by the UN System Staff College (UNSSC), was formed in June 2016 and at its 32nd session in September 2016, HLCP considered a discussion paper presented by the joint HLCP/HLCM task team, as well as a UN leadership model developed through the pre-existing UNDG process.
In order to prepare a UN system leadership framework, HLCP, HLCM, and UNDG merged their consultation processes into one joined-up stream. At its 33rd session in 2017, the Committee had before it a comprehensive proposal for such a framework.
The framework was intended to serve as a strategic organizational tool and be applicable to staff at all levels. It was based on the eight defining characteristics of UN leadership as endorsed by HLCP at its thirty-second session; namely, that it was norm-based, principled, inclusive, accountable, multi-dimensional, transformational, collaborative, and self-applied. It suggested the four key ways in which the leadership behaviours manifested themselves in support of the 2030 Agenda; namely, systems-thinking, co-creation within the UN system and with external partners, focusing on producing impact for the most vulnerable, and driving transformational change. With regard to operationalizing the framework, an “opt-in” approach was taken, permitting agencies to plan how to internalize it as appropriate for their unique needs. The Committee fully supported the leadership characteristics and behaviours articulated in the framework and welcomed its aspirational nature. While recognizing the diversity within the UN system, members nevertheless strongly underscored the importance of and value in having a shared vision and common standards towards which to strive collectively. Principled leadership, in particular, was seen as a requisite quality across all UN leaders. Several members appreciated that the implementation of the framework would be flexible and respect the diversity of UN system organizations and their specific needs, while still guiding the entities to harmonize around core values.
The Committee approved the UN System Leadership Framework, with due incorporation of suggested revisions, for onward submission to CEB for endorsement.