After the official conclusion of this year’s postgraduate training programme, another highlight awaited the participants of the 56th course: On 28 May, they met Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP).
Achim Steiner used his introductory words to reflect on the changes in development cooperation in recent decades. At the latest since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, he said, it has become clear that development is a common mission and necessity for all countries. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had inevitably shifted the priorities of many countries. As a result, many countries are currently not looking at the target date of the 2030 Agenda, but at much shorter timeframes to improve people’s lives, he stressed. However, the 2030 Agenda is not irrelevant, but rather provides a decisive orientation for setting priorities. The question of what contribution development cooperation can make to “Building Back Forward” after the pandemic will be particularly important in the coming months, he stated.
Achim Steiner answered many substantive and also personal questions raised by the graduates. He gave insights into his own career and spoke about the challenges of reorganising UNDP in the context of reforming the UN development system. He encouraged the graduates to remain open to new things and different perspectives. Steiner emphasised that the end of a global pandemic is perhaps the most interesting moment in the past 30 years to enter international development cooperation.
Achim Steiner is also a graduate of the postgraduate training programme, specifically of the 21st course. He emphasised that the alumni of the programme are among the best educated people in the professional field of development cooperation. He is still in exchange with the graduates of his year.