The state of our world

The world economy has barely had the time to recover from a string of shocks that began with the 2007 financial crisis, and we can already see another global slowdown looming large. At the same time, high economic and social inequalities are fuelling some of the mass protests around the world. As we start a new decade, two reports by UN DESA offer a way out of this bleak situation.

The World Economic Situation and Prospects and the World Social Report, coming out in January, offer a birds-eye view of the economic and social state of our world. Going beyond pulse-taking, the two publications study some of the root causes of the situation today and analyse its implications for sustainable development.

The economic outlook is expected to be downgraded this year with trade tensions and policy uncertainty stifling investment and bringing the growth in international trade to a virtual standstill. At the same time, although the climate crisis is becoming an ever-greater challenge, its risks continue to be underestimated.

The economic growth we have had, has often failed to reach those who need it most, exacerbating inequalities, and fuelling discontent. But macroeconomy is not the only reason to blame for the widening gaps. Rapid technological change, climate change, unprecedented urbanization and international migration are all impacting inequalities between countries and between people in various ways.

And yet, both upcoming reports argue that the world is not locked-in on this road to perdition. “The future doesn’t have to be like this – we have the tools to put out the fires,” said UN Chief Economist, Elliott Harris. “The Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement are our fire extinguishers and all we need, is more political will to use them.”

The two UN DESA reports demonstrate that change is still possible and beneficial to countries, businesses and societies at large. They offer practical options for policymakers, governments and other actors to  change the course of our planet and steer it towards a brighter, more prosperous future for all.

You can follow the launch of UN DESA’s World Economic Situation and Prospects and the World Social Report on UN Web TV. Stay tuned for the launch dates.