Getting in shape: Reforming the UN to make it fit for the 2030 Agenda

In this seminar, speakers who follow the ongoing UN reform process discussed what is at stake, the key issues and controversies, and possible outcomes.

Event details

Date:24 November 2017
Time: 9-10:30 (Coffee and sandwiches served from 8:30)
Venue:Medelhavsmuseet, Fredsgatan 2, Stockholm


While the 2030 Agenda is to be implemented by countries themselves, an efficient and well-functioning UN system is necessary to assist them along the way, and to enable joint responses to global challenges. The new Agenda requires a UN that fundamentally changes its ways of working, from what it does to its role in financing. Will ongoing reforms make the UN fit for the task?

The Agenda challenges the current structure and approach of the UN system in many ways: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are ambitious and require solutions at scale, while the UN is fragmented and project-oriented. The Agenda calls for contributions and resources from a range of actors, beyond governments, while the UN remains largely intergovernmental and focused on aid and budgetary contributions from member states. Achieving the goals requires integrated solutions extending across development, peace, environment, and humanitarian realms, while the UN is siloed in its approach. Lastly, the Agenda is universal in its scope and vision, while the UN system still works with a frame that divides the world into developed and developing countries.

Partly in response to the needs of the 2030 Agenda, UN Secretary General Guterres embarked on a series of ambitious reform processes as soon as he took office in January, including reforms of the UN’s development pillar. In an ambitious report from June this year, he laid out his vision for how the UN development system should be repositioned to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. A much anticipated second report from the Secretary General is due in December, which will elaborate on the vision and provide details on what type of reforms that will be expected. While reforms are welcomed by many, deeper change in the UN is often complex and marred by political tensions. This time around is no exception.

In this seminar, speakers who closely follow and engage with the ongoing UN reform process discussed what is at stake, the key issues and controversies, and possible outcomes.


  • Bruce Jenks, Senior Advisor, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
  • Harriet Pedersen, Director, Department for UN Policy, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  • Katarina Zinn, Co-ordinator, Multilateral Cooperation Unit, Sida

The discussion was moderated by Henrik Hammargren, Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation.

The event forms part of the seminar series “Implementing Agenda 2030”, jointly organised by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and UNDP Sweden.

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Patricia Esteve