Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet

We celebrate World Wildlife Day in 2021 under the theme "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet" as a way to highlight the central role of forests. Forest species and ecosystems contribute to sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas. This aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their wide-ranging commitments to alleviating poverty, ensuring sustainable use of resources, and conserving life on land.

Just #DoOneThingToday to make a difference and help wildlife conservation.
Photo:World Wildlife Day / Ziyun Helen Tang

Protect forests for ‘people, planet and prosperity’, Guterres urges on World Wildlife Day

3 March 2021 — Under increasing threat from the  unsustainable use of forest resources and wildlife trafficking, the UN chief called on Wednesday for people and governments everywhere to step up...

Secretary-General urges countries to end ‘deadly addiction’ to coal

2 March 2021 — The world still has a “fighting chance” to limit global warming by ending dependence on coal, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told representatives from governments, local...

Reflect nature’s ‘true value’ in economic policies and decisions, UN chief urges

2 March 2021 — Nations must start weighing up the cost of economic profit against damage to the environment if they are to have a chance at a sustainable future, UN Secretary-General António...

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.

Gender Equality


Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

More from the
United Nations

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

A forest in the mist Climate, UNEP

An urgent call for action to solve planetary emergencies

The Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) warned that the world risks new pandemics if we don’t change how we safeguard nature. Attended by thousands of online participants, including more than 1,500 delegates from 153 UN Member States, the Assembly also agreed on key aspects of the work of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), kicked off the commemoration of UNEP’s 50th anniversary and held leadership dialogues, where Member States addressed how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world. In a political statement endorsed at the close of the Assembly, Member States reaffirmed UNEP’s mandate as the leading global environmental authority and called for greater and more inclusive multilateralism to tackle the environmental challenges.

Ethiopian refugee doctor, Tefera Tewodros Refugees, Health, UNHCR

‘I have been working with a commitment I have never had before’

Medical doctor Tefera Tewodros was among the first refugees to reach safety in East Sudan at the onset of the crisis last November in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Stunned by the sheer number of people streaming across the border, many sick or wounded, he realized he had to step up and help. He went to offer his support to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Sudanese Commission for Refugees (COR) at the Hamdayet transit centre. The very next day he started volunteering at the health clinic, run by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society. Since then, he has been living and working at the health clinic in the border town of Hamdayet in Kassala state, where the majority of the 60,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Ethiopia have sought safety.

woman farmer tending to her livestock Agriculture and Food, FAO

Bonding on the job in Bamyan, Afghanistan

In the area of Bamyan in central Afghanistan, whilst men do most of the farming, it is the women who take care of livestock. It tends to be a solitary activity, however, and women working together as a community, is uncommon in Afghanistan. The Household Food and Livelihood Security project funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation, aims to change this, bringing women together, boosting their knowledge and raising incomes not just for their own households, but for their whole community. The women livestock keepers participate and form bonds in group meetings, where they can exchange their views, share experiences and learn new techniques as well as keep in contact with their relatives or loved ones.

Employment, ILO

Rapid growth of digital economy

Digital labour platforms have increased five-fold worldwide in the last decade according to the ILO’s latest World Employment and Social Outlook 2021 report, presenting opportunities and challenges for workers and businesses and a need for international policy dialogue.

Tourism, UNWTO

UNWTO SDGs Global Startup Competition winners announced

The 25 winning startups, selected by a jury made up of leaders from across the tourism sector, offer distinct solutions for advancing the SDGs. The winning startups will now be given expert support and backing to develop further.

Youth, Humanitarian Aid

Guide for young people in humanitarian action

The Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action aims to protect young people and adolescents, while recognising that they are invaluable partners in responding effectively to COVID-19 and its effects felt in societies across the globe.

Food, SDGs

Food Systems Champions Network

The Champions Network is a diverse global network of individuals and leaders who are passionate about making food systems more sustainable and just. Members of the network will actively call for a fundamental transformation of the world’s food systems to drive progress toward all 17 SDGs.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi on separate screens. Agriculture and Food, FAO, IAEA

FAO and IAEA reinforce partnership; aim to improve monitoring and control of diseases

For more than 57 years, the partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IAEA has contributed to addressing global challenges, including food insecurity, climate change, animal/zoonotic diseases and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. The IAEA and FAO signed a revised arrangement, which upgrades their partnership and expands the horizons of their work.

man launching a drone Science and Technology, UNCTAD

Developing countries and frontier technologies

A few developing nations are exhibiting stronger capabilities to use, adopt and adapt frontier technologies than their per capita GDPs would suggest, but most are lagging behind, according to an index of 158 countries in UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021. Frontier technologies are those that take advantage of digitalization and connectivity. They include artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things, big data, blockchain, 5G, 3D printing, robotics, drones, gene editing, nanotechnology and solar photovoltaic.

children enjoying school meal Food, Children, WFP

State of School Feeding Worldwide 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing a decade of hard-won gains in global efforts to provide nutritious food to the world’s most vulnerable children through a free daily meal in school. One in two schoolchildren, or 388 million children worldwide, were receiving school meals when the pandemic struck, the highest number in history, according to the State of School Feeding Worldwide report. By April 2020, 199 countries had closed their schools and 370 million children were suddenly deprived of what for many was their only nutritious meal of the day.

Close-up of hands counting money Finance, IMF

Public and private money can coexist in the digital age

Today’s world is characterized by a dual monetary system, involving privately-issued money—by banks of all types, telecom companies, or specialized payment providers—built upon a foundation of publicly-issued money—by central banks. While not perfect, this system offers significant advantages, including: innovation and product diversity, mostly provided by the private sector, and stability and efficiency, ensured by the public sector.

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 turned 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

Watch and Listen

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

At the UN Environment Assembly leadership dialogue ministers and other high-level representatives are invited to announce concrete actions by their respective governments or organizations that will promote the environmental dimension of sustainable development in building a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

Quarantine can be a time for self-care and relaxation

During the COVID-19 pandemic you may be asked to quarantine. This may cause worry or anxiety, and this is normal So take this time to take care of you. Reconnect with loved one, watch movies, read books. Exercise, make crafts or catch up on things you haven't had time for. Ask family and friends or use delivery services to help you get groceries, medicine and other necessities. WHO recommends we take time for self-care and relaxation during a quarantine.

5 ways nuclear science helps cancer patients

Find out how nuclear science plays a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, from radiotherapy to radiopharmaceuticals to sterilising medical equipment. Cancer is one of the main causes of death worldwide. 10 million people die each year from cancer and the number is growing. More than one third of cancer cases can be prevented. Another third can be cured if detected. IAEA helps countries increase access to life-saving nuclear techniques.

UN Podcasts

Dr. Kalibata poses for a photo with a female worker in an milling plant.

Finding the Thing You Love

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, shares her remarkable story of growing up in a Ugandan refugee camp with her Rwandan parents. Her father, a trained doctor, was forced to retrain as a farmer after relocating. But his passion for learning drives his daughter and she’s admitted into the best girls' school in Uganda, receiving a UNHCR scholarship to support her studies.

In this latest episode of Awake at Night, Agnes discusses how an encounter during her Ph.D led to her becoming the former Minister of Agriculture in Rwanda and why it’s so important to build resilience around climate change at this year’s Food System Summit.

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 UN-marked helicopter flies above a truck that reads UNAMID.
Photo:UN News / UN Photo / Albert González Farran

Joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission ends in Darfur

The UN and African Union peacekeeping mission in the Sudanese region of Darfur, UNAMID, officially closed 31 December 2020 after completing its mandate. It follows a peace deal between the Sudanese government and armed groups in Darfur, an agreement which the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres described as an “historic achievement”. The joint mission, the only one of its type, was established in July 2007 in the arid conflict-affected region in the west of the country.  UNAMID’s central task was to protect civilians.

a boy plays rolling a wheel with a stick
Photo:UNOCHA / Ivo Brandau

Solidarity amidst extreme hardship

In the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), many communities have not known peace for more than two decades. Armed groups are causing massive forced displacements and acute humanitarian needs. There are 3.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces alone. These people were forced to flee their homes. OCHA brings us stories and images that provide a glimpse of how families in North Kivu and Ituri are supporting each other.

A girl without a hand works with wire.
Photo:IOM / James Oatway

Hope and Beauty

IOM brings us stories of migration and courage. Beauty has learned to ignore stares from inquisitive eyes that she and her youngest daughter Hope attract as they walk along the streets of their Johannesburg suburb, Yeoville. But for little Hope, 8, it is not as easy. Hope was born without a right hand. Beauty considers it a miracle that Hope survived at all, because her twin was born severely deformed and died shortly after birth. When Hope was born, Beauty feared that she wouldn’t be able to walk or talk. But Hope exceeded all her mother’s expectations.

Rhino in lays in mud.
Photo:UNDP / Tamara Tschentscher

Turning the Tide

Over 90% of the world's trade goes by sea. Maritime transport is also the chief avenue used by smuggling networks, including for bulky, non-perishable illegal wildlife products such as ivory, pangolin scales, and timber. Until recently, traffickers using sea freight have faced minimum risks of their shipments being detected - or of themselves facing arrest - due to low awareness of wildlife trafficking, weak enforcement capacity and limited coordination among the many players involved in shipping. UNDP reports how this tide is about to turn...