MOOCs and International Capacity Building in a UN Framework: Potential and Challenges

Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


This chapter highlights the high potential and challenges involved with developing Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) for capacity building and climate-friendly technology transfer within the United Nations (UN) system. The paper begins by providing a short introduction to the world of MOOCs and their rapid rise in recent years. The second section explores why sustainable development-oriented international organizations (IOs) have arguably not used this resource to its full potential. It does so with a case study of a MOOC proposal on ‘ecosystem-based climate technologies for adaptation to climate change’ that was discussed between representatives of academia at the UN, and executives from the UN’s Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). A concept note from Oxford University academics, requested by the above-mentioned UN centre, had suggested a free and short MOOC (the standard format of a four- to six-week long course), focusing on high-visibility adaptation technologies. Despite several positive academia-/-UN exchanges, the MOOC never materialized as the funds needed were substantial and not immediately available. Additionally, a previous UNEP MOOC had shown that MOOC costs involving a UN organization—with heavy procurement and administrative constraints—could potentially run significantly higher than what MOOC platforms indicate for universities. Eventually, the UN’s CTCN chose to propose a series of webinars on climate technologies and host the recorded material on its website.


Capacity building Climate technology CTCN IOs MOOC Technology transfer UNEP UNFCCC Webinars 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social and Economic Survey Research InstituteQatar UniversityDohaQatar

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