Natural Resources and the Environment

Building a shared future for all life

Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Fish provide 20% of animal protein to feed about 3 billion people. Over 80% of the human diet is provided by plants and 80% of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on plant‐based medicines. This International Day of Biological Diversity (22 May) highlights  biodiversity as the answer to several sustainable development challenges. Biodiversity is the foundation to build back better from climate, health, food, and water security to sustainable livelihoods.

Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, with more that 60,000 tree species.
Photo:Adobe stock / Stéphane Bidouze
Monkeypox is a rare but dangerous infection similar to the now eradicated smallpox virus.

Europe: WHO supporting countries affected by rare monkeypox outbreak

20 May 2022 — The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with countries where cases of the rare viral disease monkeypox have been reported, the UN agency said on Friday. The UN agency...

18 million in Africa’s Sahel on ‘the brink of starvation’

20 May 2022 — As 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region teeter on the edge of severe hunger over the next three months, the UN released on Friday an additional $30 million from its emergency...

Food insecurity threatens societies, exacerbates conflicts and ‘no country is immune’

19 May 2022 — “When war is waged, people go hungry,” Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday during a debate on conflict and food security chaired by US Secretary...

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.

children holding up books

Reading and learning are essential to children’s growth and development; stories can fuel their imagination and raise awareness of new possibilities. The SDG Book Club aims to encourage them to learn about the Goals in a fun, engaging way, empowering them to make a difference.

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 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

 

Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

More from the
United Nations

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

girls and women walking along flooded land Climate, Land, Plants, and Soil, UNDP

Losing the ground beneath our feet

Rich and healthy soils are the basis of all life on Earth. Yet up to 40 percent of the planet’s land is degraded, affecting half the world’s population. Especially at risk are people living in drylands – covering 45 percent of the Earth’s surface – which are prone to desertification and the devastating impacts of climate-related shocks such as disease, drought, flooding and wildfire. Around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year to degradation. UNDP and its partners are working towards a land degradation-neutral world, to support ecosystem functions and improve food security.

group of people walking in the desert Land, Plants, and Soil, IFAD

The thin green line that’s holding back the Sahara desert

Fifteen years ago, Africa’s leaders had a vision that would change the future of their continent. They imagined a thin but powerful green line strung between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic: a strip of trees 8,000 km long and 15 km wide. It would trace the Sahel, the dryland region sandwiched between the Sahara desert to the north and the savannah to the south. Today, this vision has been refined. The Great Green Wall (GGW) is now envisioned. IFAD is among the guardians of this vision.

hands holding cowpeas Agriculture and Food, FAO

Seed biodiversity: The life insurance of our food production

Humans rely on a shockingly low number of plants for the majority of our daily calories. Thousands of plant species and varieties that fed our ancestors are already extinct, and we are losing more every day. Diversity is our food’s life insurance. The Benefit-sharing Fund , established through the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, supports farmers in developing countries to safeguard and use plant genetic diversity for food security and help these communities cope with climate change. 

Éducation, ILO

A child should go to school, not to work

"Children belong in school, not at work. When I was working I didn't like it because it made me tired. And even though school is sometimes a bit difficult, I will learn and one day I will earn a living from it."

Trade and Commerce, UNCTAD

Port programme opens ocean of opportunities for Bolivia

UNCTAD’s port management programme helped Bolivia change its port regulations, paving the way for a private operator like Port Jennefer to earn international status.

Health, UNFPA

5 things you might not know about obstetric fistula

Skilled health professionals and timely, quality emergency obstetric care can help prevent the devastating childbirth injury of obstetric fistula. Find out more about it at endfistula.org

Atomic Energy, IAEA

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy that moves from one place to another in a form that can be described as waves or particles. Radiation has many beneficial applications, but there are also risks associated with its use.

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.

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 ageing of the global population will be the defining demographic trend of the 21st century—yet our societies struggle to see the opportunities that this trend can unfold. Telecommunications and information communication technologies (ICTs) have a role to play in achieving healthier ageing, but also in helping people build smarter cities, combat age-based discrimination at the workplace, ensure financial inclusion of older persons, and support millions of caregivers across the world. ITU celebrates World Telecommunication and Information Society Day every 17 May.

Finding friendship through a forgotten art form

On the divided island of Cyprus, Hande and Flora may not have met if it wasn't for a weaving project facilitated by the UN mission in Cyprus, which brought together the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Here’s the story of how they went from strangers to friends. UN Peacekeeping has been working towards a political settlement in Cyprus since 1964. UNFICYP continues to supervise ceasefire lines, to maintain a buffer zone, to undertake humanitarian activities and to support the good offices mission of the Secretary-General.

UN Free & Equal: Love makes a family

All families are different. Some have a mum, dad and kids. Some have two mums or two dads. Some have many generations. Others are just two people. Others still are a ‘chosen family’ or a group of close friends. All families are different. At their best, they provide community, support, and the courage to be your best self. They make you feel seen. Safe. At home. They empower you to thrive. UN Human Rights celebrates families in all their amazing diversity - the families who love and accept you just the way you are. Celebrate with us!

UN Podcasts

Mary-Ellen McGroaty is talking to an Afghani man

Sitting Face to Face with the Taliban

“Some days, I sometimes wish I hadn't been here before the 15th of August, because then I wouldn't have seen the hope and the promise and the potential.”

What is it like living and working in Afghanistan as a woman leader of a UN Agency? Mary-Ellen McGroaty witnessed the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021. As Head of the World Food Programme (WFP) in the country, she has seen first hand the seismic shift in the economic, political and cultural landscape.

Now, over 50% of Afghans are threatened with hunger. People are unable to go out to work either because of the economic crisis or, in the case of millions of women, because of new restrictions on their freedom. In this episode, Mary-Ellen McGroaty reflects on the impact of the takeover, the scale of the ensuing humanitarian crisis, and what it’s like sitting face to face with the Taliban.

Photo: © WFP/Wahidullah AMANI

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.

a female deer and two young deer in the woods
Photo:UNDP Lao PDR

It takes a village: From surviving to thriving

Phayvieng Vongkhamheng was born at the end of the Laotian wet monsoon season in 1984. From a young age, Mr. Vongkhamheng had the impression that village life and wilderness intermingled symbiotically. Mr. Vongkhamheng is now the Assistant Project Manager for the ‘Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Lao PDR’. With UNDP support, the project has been promoting sustainable land and forest management in dry forest ecosystems and protection of critical wildlife habitats with its biodiversity.

Ingrid sits in costume while another woman helps her put on a large and colourful headpiece
Photo:© UNHCR/Ruben Salgado Escudero

Refugees samba in Rio’s famed Carnival parade

The Salgueiro samba school, whose theme for this year’s parade was the fight against racism, invited 20 refugees as part of a partnership with UNHCR, to promote integration of refugees into the country. Refugees from Syria, Venezuela, Angola and DR Congo took part in perhaps the most Brazilian of all events – the all-night-explosion of music, drumming, and dancing that is Rio’s annual Carnival parade.  Brazil is home to refugees from 88 countries and has received an estimated 325,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela, in recent years.