Transforming Systems in the Decade of Action

How to build systems leadership capabilities


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HLPF SIDE EVENT | Learning Insights: Leading Systems Transformation

Took place: 14 July 2021

This event reflected on the experience of the UN Action Learning Lab and included a brainstorming session on how to support UN practitioners in navigating complex systems.

About this initiative

COVID-19 has changed the development landscape. Progress toward the SDGs has been reversed. The tectonic shifts and blind spots surfaced by our current moment have underscored the need for new capabilities to navigate the Decade of Action and seize emergent opportunities for systems transformation. Integrated solutions must go beyond optimizing the status quo. Deep systems change starts with fostering collective capacities to situate the ‘self’ in systems, to operate from a place of connectedness between our minds, hearts, and hands and between each other, and to move from ego-system to eco-system awareness. 

Since June 2020, UNDP is partnering with Presencing Institute to build and sustain architectures of learning and connection for the cultivation of transformation literacy and action confidence within the UN system and beyond! In June-September 2020, we co-hosted a series of Summer Dialogues aimed at building such capabilities for awareness-based collective action.

Transformation Dialogue 1


Drawing on the energy and insights from the initial dialogues, it continued with a global Transformation Dialogue Series in the first half of 2021. These virtual gatherings and learning spaces invited UN staff into a unique space to understand and apply approaches from Theory U to the complex challenges at the core of our work. The sessions took the core questions of the 2020 Human Development Report on Human Development and the Anthropocene as a point of focus for co-inquiry into mechanisms for systems transformation.

If you missed the dialogues, watch the recordings and engage in the discussions:

💡Dialogue 1 💡Dialogue 2 💡Dialogue 3  💡Dialogue 4 💡Dialogue 5 
Co-Initiating: Uncovering Shared Intention Co-Sensing: Seeing Reality from the Edges of the System Presencing: Connecting to the Highest Future Potential Co-Creating the Emerging Future: Doughnut Economics Co-Evolving: Organizing the Future As It Emerges


For an even deeper-dive into this process, a 4-month Action Learning Lab for UN practitioners provided an opportunity for staff to hone their action confidence by applying transformation literacy approaches to problems of their choice.

Transformation Dialogue Series

Applying approaches from Theory U to the complex challenges at the core of our work

UN Action Learning Lab

A four-month guided systems transformation journey for UN practitioners

Summer Dialogue Series

Catch up on this Awareness-based Collective Action series hosted in 2020

Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development

Read up to understand how to embed Collective Intelligence principles and methods into SDG work

Putting the 2020 HDR into Practice: Collective Intelligence Space

Recently closed!

Join the group and read up on the insights, lessons learned and concrete examples to actualize the 2020 HDR

Human Development Report 2020

The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene

Nothing short of a great transformation – in how we live, work and cooperate – is needed to change the path we are on.

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