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My journey in the SDG Lab Leadership – United Nations Cambodia – Medium


By Alex Huynh, FAO Representative in Cambodia

Alex during the SDG Leadership Lab in Phnom Penh.

I have been an active participant in a new initiative called the SDG Leadership Lab, offered in collaboration with MIT u.Lab/Presencing Institute and the newly established UN Development Coordination Office. This space has brought us together as diverse UN agencies and to look at new ways of doing collaboration in practice with relevant tools and ideas.

The Lab helped us to get out of the old sectoral, siloed approaches we have been used to implementing for so long. I believe this leadership journey can certainly guide us to work closely together with new tools to do more adaptive development, which is not so natural, as we are used to doing things in a certain way. We should address the complex problems that our systems have created, instead of solving just symptoms, thus providing more integrated and effective solutions to the challenges of the SDGs.

This collective leadership journey is a reminder that we must be mindful that no single agency has the capacity to address any key problem of the 2030 Agenda. Then, when a set of selected agencies sit together, combining their knowledge in full openness, with the agreement to collaborate where it brings value, they may well be on the right path to addressing the SDGs in a timely manner.

The journey to new collaboration

The Lab has given me the opportunity, time, and space, to try something new. Without the Leadership Lab, this probably wouldn’t have happened. The Lab already shows that the objectives of the UN Reform are realistic, only if we are able to maintain the openness that is communicated to us.

Will we give ourselves enough time to maintain and grow these new leadership behaviors? What changes are we truly willing to accept? This is a huge opportunity to trigger the necessary transformation of the system and I hope we won’t miss it.

What next?

In the UN Country Team, we have a lot of opportunities to maintain the gains that we have experimented and to experience and practice new ways of working together.

Ultimately, the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development requires that we shift our mindset of doing old things from the MDGs era. To move the system towards sustainable development, we need both operational mechanisms and new leadership skills that are so needed in Cambodia.

I see that my colleagues, under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator Pauline Tamesis, want to succeed to bring change for the system. We excited to hear that we are the masters of the new collaborative programming and we can champion new processes with tools provided for us.

I look forward to continuing to have these open-minded discussions that would lead us to a stronger UN system in Cambodia that truly delivers against the 2030 Agenda.

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