The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and its predecessors have helped countries around the world meet their economic, social and environmental challenges for more than 50 years.
DESA’s mission - to promote development for all - reflects a fundamental concern for equity and equality in countries large and small, developed and developing.
Within the framework of the United Nations Development Agenda, DESA works on issues ranging from poverty reduction, population, gender equality and indigenous rights to macroeconomic policy, development finance, public sector innovation, forest policy, climate change and sustainable development. The Department also supports the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of time-bound targets, which put the eradication of poverty at the centre of the global partnership for development.
At the United Nations, DESA provides the substantive support to intergovernmental processes on development issues in the General Assembly and in the Economic and Social Council, its functional commissions and expert bodies.
DESA engages with a variety of stakeholders around the world, including non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, research and academic organizations and intergovernmental organizations, as well as our partner organizations in the United Nations system.
Our work takes many forms. DESA:
- Analyzes, generates and compiles a wide range of data and information on development issues.
- Brings together the international community to address economic and social challenges at conferences and summits.
- Supports the formulation of development policies, global standards and norms.
- Monitors and supports the implementation of international agreements.
- Assists nation states address their development challenges through engaging in a variety of capacity development initiatives.
Based at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, DESA has 9 Divisions, each of which performs a critical function in promoting development, together with our Capacity Development Office. DESA also collaborates closely with its partners at regional and country levels in helping countries to formulate and implement national development strategies.
DESA by numbers:
- On the research and analytical front, DESA’s top priority is to maximize the impact of its flagship publications and major intergovernmental reports on national and international policy-making. Every year, we prepare some 300 documents and 300 publications that analyze a wide range of development issues, which are distributed in print and electronic format around the world.
- DESA has supported more than 35 major summits and conferences since 1990 on issues ranging from sustainable development and the advancement of women to the global economic crisis, financing for development and the ageing of the global population.
- The Development Account, a fund established by the General Assembly and co-managed by DESA, has implemented more than 150 development projects around the world since 1997.
- In the year 2000, United Nations Member states agreed to 8 Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015, with the global progress monitored by DESA in its annual Millennium Development Goals Report, as well as the Report of the MDG Gap Task Force.