UNEP’s staff retreat yields inspiring results

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has an inspiring vision and mandate. But to fulfill this, the people in all its divisions need to be inspired and connected so that they can work together effectively to achieve UNEP’s objectives.

Recent changes to its Corporate Services Division, coupled with an extended break since the Division’s previous staff retreat, led UNEP to partner with Free To Grow in 2019 to present a team intervention that would help the Division re-blend – reconnecting to its purpose and to each other.

“The retreat was a significant moment for us as a Division and indeed a turning point. The Free To Grow team, namely Mmatjatji Edelstein and Danie Botha, did a fantastic job and created a much-needed space to reflect, speak out and look at possibilities,” says Director, Sonja Leighton-Kone

Facilitators Danie Botha (left) and Mmatjatji Edelstein (middle) enjoy connecting with delegates during the retreat.

Discussions in Kenya kick off with delegates completing a team effectiveness exercise.













Sharing her experience on the quality of Free To Grow’s programmes and people, Sonja commended both facilitators for their excellent facilitation skills, the way they worked together and the manner in which they approached the retreat:

“Each of the facilitators brought unique strengths to the retreat. Danie Botha showed maturity in the way he was able to approach senior leadership in his calm and constructive manner. Mmatjatji Edelstein created a strong emotional connection with the team and lifted the energy. She showed high competence in the candid way she called out behaviours in the team that was not taking us forward.”

Keeping change alive is just as important as making it happen in the first place. A few months into their journey, the Division continues to direct its focus towards creating and sustaining a culture of collaboration and engagement within the team. “The Free To Grow message has not been forgotten”, says Sonja, “people often talk about it, and the fact that I still get regular compliments on the selection of facilitators shows how well they succeeded in achieving what we had hoped for”.

The impact of the programme is best captured by one of the retreat participants, visit our YouTube page to hear more.