COVID-19 exposes vulnerabilities of domestic workers

There are an estimated 67 million domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women.  As they try to maintain their livelihoods, lack of access to social protection makes domestic workers especially vulnerable to the pandemic. Oscar-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio rose to fame in the film Roma, where she starred as an indigenous domestic worker. As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Aparicio defends the rights of indigenous peoples and domestic workers. For domestic workers, there are only two options, she explains:  stop receiving income or risk exposure to COVID-19.

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Yalitza Aparicio advocates protecting domestic workers' wellbeing without further impoverishment.
Photo:© UNESCO/Christelle Alix
There was widespread destruction in Hiroshima as a result of the nuclear bomb which was dropped on the Japanese city in August 1945.

75 years after the bomb, Hiroshima still chooses ‘reconciliation and hope’

5 August 2020 — In a video message delivered to a Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan on Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has paid tribute to the victims of the atomic bombing of...

Lebanon: Support for hospitals top UN priority in the wake of deadly blast

5 August 2020 — The United Nations is working closely with the authorities in Lebanon to support ongoing response in the aftermath of the massive deadly explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday,...

South Africa: UN health agency sends experts to help battle against COVID-19

5 August 2020 —  new “surge team” of leading UN health experts is on its way to South Africa to ramp up the COVID-19 response there, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.


UN Sustainable Development Goals

17 Goals to transform our world

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Act Now

The ActNow Climate Campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world will be engaged to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.

Decade of Action

With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.

Thomas the Tank engine

Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.

SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production


Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

More from the
United Nations

Featured stories from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Illustration of three human figures working on infected lungs.

New COVID-19 Law Lab supports global response

The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries to help states establish and implement legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards. Well-designed laws help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces. The new Lab is a joint project of UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS and partners.

Illustration of interconnected dots.

Filing for trademark rights gets easier

WIPO has launched the Madrid Application Assistant, which automatically records all the information required to complete an international application and helps reduce the risk of irregularities. The Assistant helps generate high-quality applications by importing data from the original trademarks database. The application is automatically pre-populated with contact details to a full list of goods and services. Built-in features also include verification of the classification of the list of goods and services, as well as its translation.

Illustration of a map of the world against the text of the Convention Against Corruption.

Corruption and COVID-19

Corruption, the abuse of public office for private gain, is about more than wasted money: it erodes the social contract and corrodes the government’s ability to help grow the economy in a way that benefits all citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of stronger governance. During this crisis the IMF has continued its governance and anti-corruption work. Their message to all governments has been clear: spend whatever you need but keep the receipts, because we don’t want accountability to be lost in the process.

Co-existing with tigers in Bhutan

Vanishing Treasures, the UNEP partnership with the Bhutan Tiger Center aims at understanding the impact of climate change on globally endangered tigers, local communities and human-tiger conflicts.

Contraceptives at user's door

Under Uganda’s COVID-19 lockdown, contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies have been in short supply. UNFPA, with partners, make these items available through a popular ride-hailing app.

The red gold of Azilal

The IFAD-funded Rural Development Programme in the Mountain Zones in Morocco has empowered the women of Azilal by helping scale-up their saffron business and by providing training.

Virtual dive to protect our oceans

Join UNEP’s Wild for Life virtual, immersive journey through three unique but connected marine ecosystems – mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs – that are threatened by human activity.

A woman picking peppers.

Sustainable farming helps families in El Salvador

Pandemic or not, Celia Osegueda and her two sons continue to work on their vegetable farm. FAO is working with the Government of El Salvador and local authorities to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on producer families and strengthen agricultural production in El Salvador. By strengthening the resilience of family farmers and equipping them with the tools needed to provide for their families, FAO is supporting the economic recovery of rural families in El Salvador. Celia is one of the food heroes that has worked to maintain the country’s food security during these trying times.

Scenic image of a lake surrounded by trees and snow-topped mountains.

Cost of standstill on global tourism

The enormous toll of COVID-19 on international tourism has now become clear. The latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that the near-complete lockdown imposed in response to the pandemic led to a 98 per cent fall in international tourism in May when compared to 2019. This dramatic fall places many millions of livelihoods at risk, including in developing countries. As the situation continues to evolve, the United Nations specialized agency provides the first comprehensive insight into the impact of the pandemic, both in tourist numbers and lost revenues.

Sea turtle swims among discarded facemasks.

Growing plastic pollution in wake of COVID-19

Even though Coronavirus lockdowns around the globe have led to a dramatic 5% drop in greenhouse gas emissions, not all measures have had a positive impact on the environment. Our streets, beaches and ocean have been hit by a tidal wave of plastic waste including face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles and food packaging. Global trade policies could play an important role in the fight against plastic pollution. Besides regulating the production and consumption of plastics, UNCTAD also urges governments and businesses to identify non-fossil fuel plastic substitutes.

A woman sits outside a house at a social distance from a man sitting beneath the doorway.

Refugee volunteers lead COVID-19 battle in camps

While the situation is worrying, so far the number of identified COVID-19 cases amongst the Rohingya refugee population is relatively low at just 62 cases as of July. The community health volunteers’ role has become even more important since humanitarian workers have scaled back their work in the camps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. WHO has worked with UNHCR to train the volunteers on how to identify symptoms and make referrals for testing. But they must contend with the fear and rumours that have discouraged many people from approaching health facilities.

What we do

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, including:

Structure of the
United Nations

The main parts of the UN structure are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.

The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).

The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.

Learn more

The Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines located in the Øresund Straight separating Denmark and Sweden. UN Photo

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.

Women at UN CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat”. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic

While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.

young children smiling at camera

In 2020, the United Nations turns 75. UN75 aims to build a global vision for the year 2045, the UN's centenary; to increase understanding of the threats to that future; and to drive collective action to realize that vision.  #Join the Conversation #Be the Change

Did you know?

As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone.

Watch and Listen

Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

The UN: Innovating for Peace tells the story of a bold and revolutionary United Nations, throughout its history and for the future.

Against My Will: Child Marriage

When a girl is married, her schooling usually ends. Childbearing begins. Opportunities evaporate. Doors to the future slam shut. This harmful practice is commonly imposed on girls by family members, community members or society at large, regardless of whether the victim provides, or is able to provide, full, free and informed consent.

A chance for change: Daniel's story

In Barrio Curita, in the General San Martín municipality of Buenos Aires, an unlikely group of men and women helped connect 450 homes to water services – a lack of access to water is an all too common issue in low-income neighbourhoods.

UN Podcasts

Dr. Moeti does an elbow shake with a man wearing a vest that says "WHO"

There’s a Lot We Can Do

Matshidiso Moeti is the first female Regional Director for Africa for the World Health Organisation. Now she’s the face of the COVID-19 fight in Africa, but she says facing the pandemic is easier than where she started her career as a doctor - fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s. In this third episode of season 3 of Awake at Night with host Melissa Fleming, she says, we’re willing to talk about inequalities and tackle stigma about disease. Matshidiso talks to Melissa about her childhood in South Africa and Botswana, and her fears about the effect of Covid-19, especially on women’s lives.”The impact on women economically is going to make them even more vulnerable to many things, not just to COVID itself", she says.

Latest Audio from UN News

The United Nations in Pictures

Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Mangrove restoration project underway.
Photo:UNDP Cuba/Manglar Vivo Project

“This village needed this project, and it arrived in the right moment.”

María Teresa is the administrator of the protected area of the Gulf of Batabanó, in Mayabeque, Cuba. She knows that loss and damage to mangroves makes coastal communities vulnerable. Mangroves occupy 5.1 percent of Cuba’s land area and are found on 70 percent of its coasts. To restore Cuba’s mangroves, the ‘Reduction of vulnerability to coastal flooding through ecosystem-based adaptation in the south of Artemisa and Mayabeque Provinces’ project focusses on an 84 kilometre stretch of coastline between Punta Sucia and Punta Mora on the southern coast. It’s backed by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by UNDP.

children playing
Photo:WFP/ Claire Nevill

‘Coronavirus destroys everything’: Urban hunger grips Zimbabwe

The World Food Programme is running out of money to support families like Oppah’s — a single mother, who lives in the capital, Harare, receives US$48 a month to feed her three children. Overnight, the mother raising three children alone saw her entire means of subsistence — selling towels, socks and ice lollies — evaporate. “I didn’t know how I would feed my family the next day,” she says. Now, Oppah’s only income is a monthly cash payment of US$ 48 from WFP: US$ 12 for each of the four family members — enough to meet two-thirds of their food needs. Here, one of her children, Onward (right) plays with a friend outside their home in Harare.

Buddhist monks at a Buddhist Temple
Photo:UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Four ways to make your house of worship eco-friendly

Around the world, there are an estimated 37 million churches, 4 million mosques, 20,000 synagogues and hundreds of millions of temples. Experts say many of these houses of faith could become models of sustainability by practicing eco-friendly worship, embracing green buildings, and offering environmentally-friendly sermons. To help in that process, the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Faith for Earth Initiative has just published guidelines for congregations that want to go green. 

Twin brothers practice yoga as they follow a TV-classroom programme broadcast on national television.
Photo:© UNICEF/Gjorgji Klincarov

Learning from the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education for an estimated 1.2 billion children forcing schools across the world to learn new ways of educating children. Yoga for children is being broadcast on television in North Macedonia to help with the impact the lockdown is having on children’s mental health. Twin brothers give it a try. See what other countries are doing in our photo story.