Skills, Systems & Synergies for Sustainable Development

Helping people think, talk, act and lead on Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was agreed by world leaders in September 2015. The Agenda offers a clear vision for the future for the world’s people, for the places where they live and for the planet.

4SD helps people working on sustainable development to have strategic influence within challenging situations. 4SD equips them with the skills they need to make a lasting difference. 4SD accompanies them as they nurture their skills in their professional practice.

4SD encourages Living Systems Leadership. This enables more effective engagement across sectors and among multiple stakeholders.

4SD fosters integrated people-centred action in ways that are inclusive, always connecting more stakeholders and offering the promise of generative futures for all.

4SD is also involved in applied interdisciplinary learning within universities and staff colleges internationally.

4SD offers the following

We would be delighted to explore how we can best support you.

Living Systems Leadership

At 4SD, we explore what systems leadership means, what working with living systems really looks like and how that plays out for real when you have a central role within loosely-organised human systems that are trying to address complex issues.

Comfort in Complexity

One step at a time with the direction in mind! Find out more about the characteristics of #systems #leadership

During a 4SD Webinar on Comfort in Complexity, participants explored how working in this way can be valuable and what it really feels like. This process was captured in a Learning Review (PDF).

Feeling Systems

All human systems are #LivingSystems; when we engage with them, we recognise how generative they are. Ideas & capacities grow, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly, sometimes predictably, often not.

Seeing into Systems

The ability to see into multiple systems creates opportunities for leading change that is substantial and significant.

Encouraging Systems Change

The major challenges facing our world cannot be solved for everyone everywhere through discrete solutions.

Systems Leadership for Sustainable Development

Taking action on complex challenges such as the implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires a departure from traditional top-down, hierarchical and linear approaches. through systems change. A report, co-authored by Lisa Dreier, David Nabarro and Jane Nelson suggests using innovative and adaptive approaches to engage broad networks of diverse stakeholders.

Download the Executive Summary (PDF)
Download the full report (PDF)

Commencement 2019 at CUNY SPH

On 4 June 2019, during Commencement 2019, David Nabarro, Strategic Director of 4SD, received an Honorary Doctorate from The City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.

During his keynote address (starting in minute 36), Dr Nabarro spoke about his motivation to become an International Civil Servant and the lessons he learned throughout his career.

Inter-disciplinary science for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

At the launch of the Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions (MAK’IT) on 7 March 2019, David Nabarro and Louise Fresco, President of Wageningen University & Research, spoke on how to work across disciplines to shift systems so they work better for people and the planet.

Find out more

Trondheim Conferences on Biodiversity

On 2 July 2019, David Nabarro, Strategic Director of 4SD spoke about Securing environmentally safe and socially just spaces for living with nature (speech starts at 6h 22m).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: What it means for all of us

On 20 November 2018, David Nabarro, Strategic Director of 4SD and Professor of Global Health at Imperial College, London, held the 2018 Annual Lecture of the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI).

Find out more


  • What can the vaccine roll-out learn from test and trace?
    Photo by Maxim Tolchinskiy on Unsplash What can the vaccine roll-out learn from test and trace? By John Atkinson and David Nabarro. Originally published in the MJ on 25 January 2021. Hospitals across the country are reporting conditions that are urgent and serious. Pressure in hospitals is always an indicator of pressure throughout systems of … Read more
  • COVID in cold environments: risks in meat processing plants
    COVID in cold environments: risks in meat processing plants 4SD Working Paper | 11th November 2020 David Nabarro, Co-Director Institute for Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, and Strategic Director 4SD Katherine DeLand, Senior Health Adviser 4SD Florence Lasbennes, Managing Director 4SD Cold food processing facilities have been featured as particularly high-risk environments for COVID … Read more
  • 4SD supports the Food Systems Summit preparation process
    To assist with the preparation of the Food Systems Summit, we are very pleased to announce that 4SD will support the opportunity for people of every country to engage with preparations for the Summit through Food Systems Summit Dialogues.
    4SD is embarking on a major global initiative which requires the support of a short-term Web Project Manager to oversee the design, development and implementation of a website for international users of different capacities. The Web Project Manager will also provide technical and communications support to the 4SD team in relation to the global initiative. … Read more
  • Comparing the New Zealand response to COVID-19 with Sweden: setting the record straight
    En español: Declaración del Dr. David Nabarro, Comparando la respuesta de Nueva Zelanda al COVID-19 con la de Suecia: aclarando el asunto Statement by Dr David Nabarro Comparing the New Zealand response to COVID-19 with Sweden: setting the record straight GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: 1 September 2020 After an interview I had with a New Zealand journalist on 26 August … Read more
  • COVID-19 Open Online Briefing: Series One Survey
    Shortly after the appointment of Dr David Nabarro as one of six Special Envoys of World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General on COVID-19, David and peers began to publish narratives to help navigate the complexities of the emerging pandemic. To build on these Narratives, David and the 4SD team held the first Open Online Briefing on … Read more
    We want to capture as many perspectives as possible for our pandemic response communications and your community photos and videos could be featured in our next COVID-Ready reel! We are looking for: General community shots, people with face coverings, washing hands and other hygiene practices, and at home in your community. Download PDF of full … Read more
  • World Economic Forum: Systems leadership can change the world – but what exactly is it?
    Article by Lisa Dreier, David Nabarro and Jane Nelson

4SD on Twitter

Do you want to be a part of the @UN @FoodSystems Summit Dialogues?

Then check out the April Training Schedule and join us to improve your skills to address the challenges of creating pathways to sustainable #FoodSystems:

We are virtually gathered together at the @UNECOSOC #Youth2030 Forum today to recognize the vital role of YOUth as agents of change & a driving force in the #DecadeOfAction to deliver on the #GlobalGoals 💪

Looking forward to insightful #YouthLead discussions with you all 🙌🙋‍♀️

Over 11,000 young people from all over the world are making their voices heard at #Youth2030 virtual Forum, sharing ideas as critical agents of change for the #GlobalGoals.

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