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.
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.
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.
We need to stand up for our rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings. Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone's right to live free from fear and abuse. The UN Human Rights Office upholds values that are the roots of peace and inclusion. Join us. It starts with each of us. This Human Rights Day and every day stand up for human rights.
Like many prospective staff members, Lonjezo Hamisi envisioned serving at some point in his career in a region beset by war, injustice, poor governance and poverty, with the hope of easing the plight of the people most in need on the ground. He got his chance when he was posted to the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), where he served as Special Assistant to the Mission Chief of Staff.
In the Bolivian countryside an appetizing industry has taken off, bringing a sweet new business to rural communities: chocolate production. When it comes to chocolate, Bolivia might not be the first place you think of yet - but thanks to the combined efforts of FAO, smallholder farming collectives and indigenous producers, it soon will be. Over the past five years, Bolivia’s chocolate producers have been quietly racking up the achievements and gaining global recognition for the quality of their products
The Juan Luis Vives school is located in the Valparaiso Penitentiary Centre, Chile. Founded in 1999, the institution provides basic and secondary education, and vocational training for detainees. The school was awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy in 2015.
Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various mitigation measures—phasing out fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency, adopting renewable energy sources, improving land use and agricultural practices—continue to move forward, but the pace is too slow, argues IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in this editorial.
A community sponsorship pilot programme aims to provide wrap-around care to five families of refugees as they settle in the Basque Country. It stems from a collaboration between civil society groups, central and regional governments and UNHCR.
Peter Koopmans, who has been working for UNAIDS for 10 years, began the record attempt on World AIDS Day, 1 December, to raise money for a South African charity working to support sexually abused children and to increase awareness around HIV in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Mr. Koopmans has raised US$ 21,000 for the South African charity Bobbi Bear, which was supplemented by funds from UNAIDS World AIDS Day fundraising activities, bringing the total to well over US$ 25,000.
Wael Abu Ismael, Freeh Abu T’ema and Mossa Abu Taema are ambassadors of change to end early marriages in Khan Younis, a border town in the Gaza Strip, Palestine where early and child marriages are common. They have undergone a training delivered by a community-based organization, the Future Brilliant Society, as part of UN Women’s Regional Men and Women for Gender Equality Programme funded by the Government of Sweden. The ambassadors have prevented early marriages in 50 families and counting.
In Belarus, Aliaksandr (Sasha) Audzevich serves as a UN Volunteer Inclusion and Disabilities Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He is part of the UNDP-UNV Talent Programme for Young Persons with Disabilities, which enables youth with disabilities to acquire experience and contribute to the United Nations as UN Volunteers. Sasha shares his story on the occasion of International Volunteer Day 2019.
Bombs were dropping in Yemen, but that didn’t stop one Yemeni woman from completing the task at hand: baking a massive cake. Her resilience was captured by documentary photographer Thana Faroq in an image now on display in a joint exhibit by UNCTAD, IOM and UNHCR. “I never stop craving something sweet,” she told Ms. Faroq, and this made her realize that her neighbours likely felt the same way, igniting a small business.
The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
Protect Human Rights
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
Deliver Humanitarian Aid
One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character." The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild. The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.
Promote Sustainable Development
From the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
Uphold International Law
The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained." Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization. This work is carried out in many ways - by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties - and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary. These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
A Call to Action: Building the Resilience of North Africa’s Coast
Fishermen, families, hotel owners, and coastal farmers are all sounding an alarm: North Africa’s coast has reached its tipping point. Coastal hotspots in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, for a start, are “absolutely exhausted” from overfishing and coastal erosion. The Mediterranean Sea is warming twice as fast as the global ocean, with worsening marine pollution, and the fastest-growing coastal cities. Still, many are hopeful that coastal adaptation can turn the tide. A new World Bank program is working within the region to protect the communities on the coast—even as they grow.
On the Brink - Emissions Gap Report 2019
As the world strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, it is crucial to track progress towards globally agreed climate goals. For a decade, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report has compared where greenhouse gas emissions are heading against where they need to be, and highlighted the best ways to close the gap. Are we meeting goals of the Paris Climate Agreement?
The "Stanytsia Luhanska" crossing point in Eastern Ukraine
At the time of filming, the bridge at “Stanytsia Luhanska” was still destroyed. Improvements have been made since then, but civilians continue facing challenges while trying to access services, payments or maintain family ties. Much more needs to be done to ease their suffering.
Farmers on the climate front line
This is the inaugural episode of Farms. Food. Future. – a podcast that’s Good for You, Good for the Planet and Good for Farmers and your Food. Brought to you by IFAD and your host, Brian Thomson. In this month’s programme we will be hearing from farmers on the climate front line:
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
Co-operation for Co-existence
There are less than 400 Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS) worldwide. The critically endangered bird is a small migratory wader that breeds in north-eastern Russia and winters in South and South-East Asia; small numbers are recorded in the inner Gulf of Thailand. The good news is mudflats in Khok Kham salt-farming community are rich in food resources for SBS. Salt farming methods have created ecosystems particularly well-suited for feeding and sheltering migratory shorebirds. The bad news is there are just 28 salt-farmers left in the Khok Kham. If salt farming disappears, it will render the return of SBS unlikely. The recognition of symbiosis between bird and farmer is key to preserving biodiversity via sustainable development.
Photo:UNDP Angola/Cynthia R. Matonhodze
Bridging the HIV Divide
"At first they used to say 'these things are for older people; you can't be here talking.' Now they have started getting used to it and started talking to me,” Reginalda Elias (16) said. Globally, an estimated 6,000 young women and girls become infected with HIV each week. This is particularly stark in Angola where new HIV infections among women aged 15-24 are more than double those of young men. The end of the 27-year civil war in 2002 heralded a new beginning. But widespread inequalities, poverty and a climate change-induced drought in the Eastern and Southern provinces have pushed people’s coping mechanisms to the limit. Angola is one of the few countries in Africa where new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have risen in the last 10 years. But the next generation of female activists are fighting back.
What is it like to live with a disability when you’re displaced?
Bawk Ra from Myanmar lost the ability to walk when she was 5. Then she lost her home. With a smartphone, training and help from her family, she captured her life on camera. "I wish someone could understand my worries." As a result of ongoing conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State, more than 107,000 people live in camps for the internally displaced. Many camps have few livelihood opportunities and limited access to health care and education. This photography project, run by UNHCR and Yangon Photo Festival, gives people like Bawk Ra the skills to share their own stories. Bawk Ra has since won an award for these photos – and a brand new Canon camera.
Photo:WHO/Shanth Kumar - India
Climate Change and Health in Pictures
“The Marathwada region in India was hit by the worst drought in 40 years, affecting nearly nine million farmers and their families. With taps and wells running dry, drinking water was brought in with tankers - 17 liters per person, once every 14 days.” WHO's message: implement and monitor national policies that protect the health of your citizens from climate change. This is one of the five key WHO messages on climate and health, captured by five powerful images.