Natural Resources and the Environment

Montreal Protocol – keeping us, our food, and vaccines cool

The Montreal Protocol started as a global agreement to protect the ozone layer, a job it has done well, making it one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. A united global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substances means that today, the hole in the ozone layer is healing, in turn protecting human health, economies and ecosystems. But, as this year’s World Ozone Day (16 September) seeks to highlight, the Montreal Protocol does so much more – such as slowing climate change and helping to boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security.

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.
Photo:UN Photo/R Kollar
Graphic for No Denying It, the UN News Podcast about Climate Action

No Denying It episode 4: Kyne Introduces Mat dos Santos

15 September 2021 — In the fourth episode of the UN climate action podcast No Denying It, drag performer, social media star, and mathematics communicator Kyne introduces Managing Attorney at Our...

‘Tipping point’ for climate action: Time’s running out to avoid catastrophic heating

16 September 2021 — The temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by global COVID-19 lockdowns did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at...

From BTS, K-Pop heroes, to net zero: 5 things to look out for at UNGA 76

15 September 2021 — The 76th session of the UN General Assembly is due to begin on 14 September, and it will be very different from 2020’s fully virtual gathering. UNGA 76 will still be...

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 campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined 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.

Icons of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face. Find out more and learn how they are all connected.

More from the
United Nations

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

A close-up of a needle sticking a person’s arm WHO, Health

COVAX COVID-19 vaccine supply forecast

Twelve months ago, the world came together to support COVAX, a multilateral initiative co-convened by WHO and partners, to guarantee global access to COVID-19 vaccines. With the support of the international community, COVAX began securing financing, negotiating with vaccine developers and manufacturers, and addressing the logistics associated with rolling out the largest and most complex vaccination programme in history. Yet only 20% of people in low- and lower-middle-income countries have received a first dose of vaccine compared to 80% in high- and upper-middle income countries.

An industrial plant in the desert emitting black smoke UNEP, Pollution and Waste

First global assessment of air pollution legislation

The first UNEP Global Assessment of Air Pollution Legislation presents the findings of a study of air quality legislation in more than 194 countries. Using the Air Quality Guidelines developed by WHO, the report examines the legal measures for determining whether air quality standards are being met and what legal standards exist for failure to meet them. The Assessment provides recommendations to assist countries in strengthening air quality governance and serves as a resource for countries wishing to effectively address air pollution and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

A view of treetops from below World Bank, Natural Resources and the Environment

We need healthier air for a healthier planet

Air pollution is a multifaceted problem – representing the world’s leading environmental risk to health, costing the globe an estimated $8.1 trillion in 2019. Air pollution is also deadly, causing or contributing to heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases and killing an estimated seven million people every year. 95 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries. As such, tackling air pollution is a component of the World Bank’s mission to eradicate poverty and promote shared prosperity. Less obvious is what can be done to address this problem.

WIPO, Intellectual and Cultural Property

Virtual exhibit on geographical indications

Take the WIPO virtual tour around the world to discover examples of global geographical indications - signs linking products to a specific place of origin, a certificate of authenticity.

UNHCR, Sports, Refugees

The power of sport to bring people together

UNHCR announces the winners of the second annual Youth with Refugees Art Contest – the online sale of footballs featuring the designs will raise funds for sport programmes for refugees.

IAEA, Disaster Relief

Assessing building integrity in Lebanon

An IAEA team of experts in Lebanon helps examine the integrity of buildings impacted in last year’s port explosion in Beirut. The team is training nationals in conducting non-destructive testing.

UN-Habitat, Women and Gender Equality

Her City Toolbox

Engaging women and girls to develop safe, inclusive, and accessible public spaces is one of the core principles of UN-Habitat’s global commitment to building better and more resilient cities.

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

The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 arrived at a time of great upheaval and peril. To secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet we need a multilateral system that is inclusive, networked and effective. "Our Common Agenda" builds on the 12 commitments contained in the UN75 Declaration.

Watch and Listen

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

We all need health care at some stage in our life. Not only it is important to have access to health care we need, but also the health care we receive should be of high quality to improve our health. This video explains what is meant by quality of care.

Our actions are our future

There are many different kinds of journeys that food can take, some that guarantee a healthier future for people and the planet.

Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace

The Biennale of Luanda is back! And you don't want to miss it. The second edition will put young people front and center and focuses on the prevention of violence and the resolution of conflicts.

UN Podcasts

Ingrid sits at a table with a woman and a man whilst in close discussions.

Build Trust and Build a Future

"We know that whenever you have these sort of atrocity crimes that happened here [Bosnia and Herzegovina], they're often preceded by hate."

Ingrid Macdonald is the UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is tasked with spearheading the UN’s efforts to support development in a country still deeply scarred by ethnic divisions and the legacy of war and the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica. Ingrid, who was raised in a small New Zealand mining town, has a long record of working in humanitarian, development and human rights jobs around the world.

Since relocating to Sarajevo in early 2020, just as COVID-19 was taking hold across the world, Ingrid has been focused on finding ways to bring divided communities together, as well as tackle hate speech and genocide denial, just 26 years after Bosnian Serb forces massacred 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica. In this episode, she talks about the challenges she faced in many of her roles and her vivid memories of trying to advocate for the vulnerable, including her time helping women in Afghanistan.

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.

Members of the Arhuaco community in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Photo:WFP/Lorena Peña

WFP assists indigenous communities hit hard by drought and COVID-19 pandemic

The social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 add to the ongoing challenges faced by the Arhuaco indigenous people in the north of Colombia, including severe drought and shortage of water for agricultural production, due to climate change.  WFP’s support has brought welcome relief to hundreds of indigenous families. Each family was given a toolbox for setting up a garden, with WFP’s technical assistance.

child lying down on a bookcase
Photo:Magnum Photos for UNICEF

Generation COVID: Respond. Recover. Reimagine.

In collaboration with the renowned Magnum Photos agency, UNICEF presents an in-depth look at the pandemic experiences of children and young people across six countries. We hope you are moved by their stories and join UNICEF in advocating for a renewed global commitment to an inclusive recovery for children everywhere. The future of an entire generation is at stake.