DESA Divisions


ECOSOC Support and Coordination

The Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (OESC) assists global policy dialogue and consensus building on development issues in the UN General Assembly and Economic and Social Council. It supports the Council in strengthening policy development, coherence and coordination. Furthermore, OESC assists Member States in implementing commitments through annual ministerial-level reviews, which assess progress towards the MDGs and other development goals. Through the Development Cooperation Forum, OESC reviews and analyzes trends in international development cooperation, facilitates policy coherence among the different actors, and identifies best practices to guide policy-making at the country level. OESC also prepares and advises the Assembly’s periodic review of the funding of the UN’s operational activities for development and the functioning and effectiveness of the UN development system. It works to bring the voices of all stakeholders into ECOSOC deliberations, including those from the UN system, civil society, young people, parliamentarians and local authorities. In addition, OESC advises the Council on its relationship with its subsidiary bodies and the Charter Bodies. 


Social Development

The Division for Social Policy and Development promotes awareness and understanding of the core social issues of poverty eradication, employment generation and social integration through its analytical and normative work. The Division assists governments and civil society organizations in formulating social policies that foster more secure, just, free and inclusive societies: societies in which all members – young and old, rich and poor, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples alike – are active participants. The Division’s work is vital for the social pillar of sustainable development. It also serves as the secretariat of the Commission for Social Development, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Sustainable Development

The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) provides leadership in promoting and coordinating implementation of the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which concluded on 22 June 2012, is considered one of the largest conferences in the history of the United Nations. Governments renewed their strong political commitment to sustainable development, to promoting integration and coherence of policies, and to implementing actions in the social, economic and environmental areas.

The work of the Division translates into five core functions: (1) support to UN intergovernmental processes on sustainable development; (2) analysis and policy development; (3) capacity development at the country level; (4) inter-agency coordination; and (5) knowledge management, communication and outreach. In addition, the Division houses the SIDS Unit, which supports the sustainable development of small-island developing States by implementing the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States. 



The Statistics Division is committed to the advancement of the global statistical system. It serves as the secretariat to the UN Statistical Commission, coordinates global statistical activities, compiles and disseminates statistical information, develops methodological standards and norms, and supports national statistical systems. The Division facilitates access to UN statistical resources, which cover a wide range of economic, social, demographic, environmental, geographic and geo-spatial data sources. This information is available on-line, free of charge through UNdata.



The Population Division studies population dynamics and monitors demographic trends and policies worldwide. Population estimates and projections prepared by the Division for all countries – on fertility, mortality, international migration, urbanization, and population size and structure – are widely used by various entities.  Main users include the UN system for the derivation of other indicators and for modeling purposes; governments for policy formulation and programme design; and civil society for information and advocacy purposes. In its role as substantive secretariat for the Commission on Population and Development, the Population Division is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. It produces selected indicators used for tracking improvements in maternal health under Goal 5 of the Millennium Development Goals. The Division also participates, in partnership with other UN agencies, in the assessment of child mortality levels for monitoring Goal 4 of the MDGs.


Development Policy and Analysis

The Development Policy and Analysis Division contributes to strengthening the role of international cooperation in the economic and social development of all countries and to fostering countries’ effective integration into the world economy in the context of the UN development agenda. The Division’s core functions include monitoring and analyzing global economic trends and prospects in order to make recommendations on global macroeconomic policy coordination; analyzing long-term development trends in order to provide policy advice on the international development agenda; serving as the Secretariat for the Committee for Development Policy, a policy advisory body of the Economic and Social Council; and, providing leadership to DESA’s capacity development priority area on macroeconomic issues.


Public Administration

The Division for Public Administration and Development Management assists countries strengthen public institutions and government capacity in order to promote sustainable development, advance public sector reform and improve service delivery. The Division’s training and capacity-building activities promote citizen-oriented, efficient and effective government, based on the principles of transparency, accountability and civic participation. The Division stresses innovative approaches to public management, in particular through e-government and expansion of the information society.



The secretariat of the UN Forum on Forests promotes sustainable forest management based on Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration, Forest Principles, Global Objectives on Forests, and the Non-legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. The secretariat is the UN focal point on all matters relating to forests and supports the work of the Forum in global forest policy development, implementation and coordination. The secretariat also provides information and analysis on critical forest issues including forest finance. To enhance UN system-wide cooperation on forests, it also serves as the secretariat for the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.


Financing for Development

The Financing for Development Office provides secretariat support for sustained follow-up, at all levels, to the agreements and commitments contained in the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration. To this end, the Office promotes an inclusive intergovernmental process, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, in order to address a range of issues in a coherent and integrated manner. These issues include domestic resource mobilization, private investment flows, international trade, official development assistance, external debt and the global financial and economic system and architecture.


Capacity Development

The Capacity Development Office (CDO) supports the Under-Secretary-General of DESA in overseeing the use of resources for capacity development purposes. Building on the department’s comparative strengths, the CDO helps Member States develop coherent capacity development strategies. The CDO also supports DESA actively engage in the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). The Office promotes linkages among DESA’s normative and analytical work and the UN system’s operational work, including through regional and country-level cooperation mechanisms. The CDO also helps DESA mobilize partnerships to support its capacity development activities.


Communications and IT

The Communications and Information Management Service provides outreach, web and social media services for the Department and facilitates the use of information technology and knowledge sharing for DESA colleagues. Key priorities include the multi-lingual DESA websites, online newsletters, social and multi-media outreach, records management and civil society participation. The Service also works in close consultation with the UN Information Technology Office to ensure cost effective and efficient management of ICT and knowledge management resources.


Executive Office

The Executive Office assists the Under-Secretary-General with personnel, finance and general administration. It manages a Staffing Table of more than 550 positions, certifies requirements for a budget of more than $160 million annually and assists in the organization of and support to major international conferences such as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro of 2012. The Executive Office works closely with the Office of Legal Affairs and the Office of the Controller to conclude an average 24 Host Country Agreements and donor contribution agreements annually, which range in complexity and funding amounts.  The Office’s main goal is to enhance the effectiveness of programme support, both in the traditional areas of responsibility and in managing the Department’s extra-budgetary funds.