Change is Certain: How the Commons Transformed through COVID and beyond

Change is Certain: How the Commons Transformed through COVID and beyond

Picture of an event

Written by Rafaela Gutirrez, former colleague at the Knowledge & Learning Commons at UN Geneva. 

The Knowledge & Learning Commons, at the UN Library & Archives Geneva, works to bring together professionals at the UN and in other sectors to explore questions on multilateralism. Since we began in 2019, the Commons has been on a journey of change, evolving from a physical space where we held events and knowledge gatherings, to a space where people can connect and exchange in physical, online and hybrid environments. While change and evolution is at the heart of the Commons, the COVID pandemic was an important catalyst for our transition into the digital space. Like organizations and teams around the world, we quickly adopted new tools and platforms that have allowed us to build a community of learners in Geneva and in UN duty stations worldwide. 

As we continue to evolve, we’re reflecting on how this critical moment has shaped who we are today. Here below are some ways we have transformed. 

We Share Knowledge in Different Ways

Today, the Commons offers various ways to partake in learning and sharing knowledge on multilateralism. Our space is a hybrid one, and you can join us for physical events at the Library & Archives, connect to online sessions wherever you are in the world, or watch videos and interviews with experts on the Library & Archives YouTube channel. Through offering a diversity of ways to join us, we hope to encourage more access to knowledge on multilateralism, as well as ideas and feedback from our community. And, as the needs of our community of users and partners evolve, so do we. 

We Aim to Make Knowledge Accessible 

The shift towards a digital landscape worldwide has not only changed how we share information at the Commons, but also challenged us to ensure more virtual and online accessibility to resources at the UN Library & Archives Geneva. We house a rich diversity of knowledge on multilateralism, found in books, electronic resources, curated resource guides, digital archives, podcasts and more. Our aim is to continue highlighting and bringing these resources to our community in accessible ways, through knowledge events, interviews with experts, videos, blog articles and more. The Commons is here to promote equitable access to information for anyone interested in exploring multilateralism.

We Navigate Change Together

The world faced incredible challenges during the pandemic. At this moment of uncertainty, the Commons quickly adapted to offer a platform for learning and coming together no matter the challenges. People from the UN system around the world connected online to learn about themes on multilateralism, mediation, climate, negotiation, wellbeing, and more, and the Commons became a real-time space for dialogue and exchange, encouraging the community to engage in discussions about emerging challenges and opportunities within the ever-changing landscape of multilateralism. Since then, we continue to be an adaptive learning community, with even more knowledge products available in different formats. 


Change is a constant part of our lives, and while huge changes like COVID have been transformational for the Commons, it was also a reminder of how we can continuously adapt, innovate and support our changing community. Building a digital space has allowed the Commons to be a more collaborative, accessible space, and as we continue to explore and move forward, we remain dedicated to our mission to share and encourage knowledge on multilateralism and the critical need to work together for our collective future.  

Rafaela Gutierrez