Economic Development

UNDESA reveals the latest global economic trends

The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021, the UN’s flagship report produced by DESA, looks at the performance of the world economy since the start of the pandemic as well as the impacts of global policy responses and post-crisis recovery scenarios. Set against a backdrop of prolonged economic uncertainty, the report highlights areas hardest hit by the pandemic and the subsequent global response, including challenges and opportunities that will determine the sustainability, resilience and fairness of the global recovery efforts.  The report launch starts at 11:00 am, watch it live.

The 2021 report on the state of the world economy includes data on global trade, stimulus measures, employment, gendered risks, as well as threats of premature austerity measures and financial bubbles.
Photo:DESA
A teacher and her students practice COVID-19 school re-opening guidelines by wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance at a primary school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Pandemic disruption to learning is an opportunity to reimagine, revitalize education

24 January 2021 — To mark the third International Day of Education on Sunday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to the resilience of students, teachers and families in the face of...

Economic and Social Council turns 75; President reaffirms mandate to tackle pandemic, development challenges

23 January 2021 — Marking its 75th anniversary amid the most serious economic and health crisis the UN has ever faced, the Organization’s Economic and Social Council “has the mandate and the...

Healthier world means ‘safer America’ Tedros stresses, as UN-led vaccine initiative announces deal for 40 million doses 

22 January 2021 — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday announced the signing of an advance purchase agreement securing up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine, under...

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.
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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 smiling girl gets served a plate a food by a worker with a WFP apron in Sri Lanka. WFP, FAO, Food

Poor nutrition on the rise in Asia Pacific region

WFP reports that the coronavirus pandemic is undermining efforts to improve diets and nutrition for nearly 2 billion people in Asia and the Pacific, according to an FAO report published today. The Asia and the Pacific Overview of Food Security and Nutrition states that 1.9 billion people were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2019—the year that is the focus of the study—while estimates suggest the disruption caused to livelihoods and economies by COVID-19 only worsened problems in 2020, hitting women and children aged under 5 hardest, in spite of economic growth.

Mark Carney with speech bubbles Climate

Interview: Investing in net-zero climate solutions creates value and rewards

In a recent interview, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney spoke about how private finance is increasingly aligned behind achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. He underlined that people everywhere should keep up the pressure in calling for climate action: "Don’t assume that your politician cares about this issue as much as you do. But they will the more you and others raise it with them. And now is the time, because climate is becoming a mainstream issue, and a lot of big decisions are being taken."

Ocean life, fish and coral, underwater. UNCTAD, Wildlife

Updated principles to promote biodiversity-friendly trade

UNCTAD launched its updated BioTrade Principles and Criteria, for governments and companies to conduct biodiversity-friendly trade in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable manner. The term “BioTrade” refers to the commercialization of goods and services derived from a country’s biodiversity. Curtailing illegal wildlife trade is imperative to stop biodiversity loss, with an estimated one million plant and animal species now at risk of extinction. The threat is not only ecosystem collapse but also a heightened risk of new pandemics such as COVID-19.

World Bank, Economic Development

Subdued global economic recovery

Although global economic output is recovering from its COVID-19 collapse, the World Bank Global Economic Prospects shows it will remain below pre-pandemic trends for a prolonged period.

UNFPA, Women and Gender Equality

Top 5 stories affecting women and girls

UNFPA’s biggest stories of 2020 all stemmed from one story: COVID-19. Here are the highlights of how the pandemic affected women and girls, but also how people worldwide met the challenge.

UNESCO, Éducation

Education: From disruption to recovery

UNESCO supports countries mitigate the immediate impact of school closures on hundreds of millions of students to facilitate the continuity of education for all through remote learning.

UN-Habitat, Human Settlements

Victor Wanyama joins UN-Habitat’s efforts

UN-Habitat and Kenyan international footballer, Victor Wanyama, work together to support community development particularly for women and youth in the country’s informal settlements.

Illustration representing life on land and sea life. UNEP, Climate Change

As climate change hits harder, world must increase efforts to adapt

UNEP warns 2020 was not only the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the year of intensifying climate change: high temperatures, floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and even locust plagues. Even more worryingly, the world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century. We need strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris Agreement goals of holding global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C. Nations must urgently step-up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses.

Portrait of a woman dressed as a chef. ILO, Employment

Diversity is the best ingredient

Learning how to cook is about changing your life. This is just what Paola Carosella hopes to achieve with “Kitchen & Voice”. The joint initiative of the Brazilian Public Ministry of Labour and the ILO helps give the most marginalized people – the homeless, abused women, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people – the chance to have a real job. Paola Carosella is a world-renowned Argentine chef who lives in Sao Paulo. She has been working with the ILO since 2017 on “Kitchen and Voice”, a project that promotes labour market access for vulnerable groups in Brazil.

Two small planes fly close to the ground. FAO, Agriculture and Food

East Africa's locust "air force" could be grounded

A locust fighting force assembled by countries in East Africa to combat an invasion of the crop-devouring pest is at risk of seeing its activities grind to a halt as funding to sustain its operations dries up, FAO warned. Without additional financing for fuel, airtime, and pilot hours, the 28 anti-locust aircraft which are now patrolling the skies to spot and spray locust swarms could cease operations in March. FAO informed humanitarian partners that some $38.8 million are still needed to help East Africa and Yemen get through the last mile of their desert locust marathon.

The reflection in the mirror shows someone applying lipstick with a man sitting in the background. UNAIDS, Health

Vulnerability mapping to help sex workers

UNAIDS reports on the challenges faced by sex workers in Bangladesh and Myanmar as a result of the COVID-19 closure of brothels. Street-based sex work increases the risk of violence, condom-less sex and no pay or low pay. Sex workers are also experiencing increasing vulnerability to gender-based violence. Without a source of income, conflicts about finances arise resulting in abuse at the hands of spouses, partners and brothel owners. Other challenges include homelessness, stigma and discrimination from other forms of employment and restricted health services and screenings.

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

Watch and Listen

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

This video explains the basics of the #ParisAgreement: the international UN treaty of 2015 that aims to tackle #ClimateChange head on. Its central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with ambition to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Regulating, controlling and monitoring transshipment

When fishing vessels operate far from their home port, transshipment allows fishers to transfer their catch at sea or in a foreign port.

Gender Equality Seal for UNDP Entities

The Gender Equality Seal incentivizes UNDP Country Offices to integrate gender equality into all aspects of their development work.

UN Podcasts

woman among plantings

State of the Planet: Pandemic slows efforts to adapt to climate crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to hamper the efforts of developing countries to adapt to the climate crisis. This is the analysis of Dr. Henry Neufeld, a climate mitigation expert, and one of the authors of the forthcoming report on climate change from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

Dr. Neufeld is the guest in this episode of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) State of the Planet podcast, in which host Tim Albone grills him about what climate adaptation actually means, and asks for his take on the latest UNEP Adaptation Gap report.

The senior UN official warns that, whilst the pandemic should have allowed governments to invest more use of green technologies, and bounce back stronger than before, there is little evidence so far that this is happening.

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 student standing in front of art work
Photo:© 2020 UNRWA Photo

UNRWA students from Ein el Tal and Aleppo join forces to raise awareness about COVID-19

Maryam (13) in one of 70 Palestine refugee students who returned to Ein el Tel Palestine refugee camp in Syria and attends an UNRWA school in Aleppo. Many students and teachers were anxious when the schools reopened in Syria and worried about the restrictive COVID-19 preventative measures. The staff at the school came up with a project to help them cope. Together, the students prepared coloured papers with DOs and DON’Ts, assembled them and all created their own “COVID-19 magazine”. They also included messages on how to support each other and how to respect and follow the preventative measures necessary to stay protected from the virus and make sure it doesn’t spread.

kickboxing
Photo:© UNHCR/Elyor Nematov

‘A whole new world has opened in front of me’

Mukhamadjon and his student prepare for a fight at Uzbekistan’s Taekwondo Federation. Mukhamadjon was born to ethnic Uzbek parents in the Kyrgyz Republic in August 1991, just four months before the Soviet Union collapsed. Towards the end of 1992, the family moved to Namangan, but they were too late to claim citizenship and their son became stateless. “I was the Uzbek champion in kickboxing and there were moments when my coach wanted to send me for international championships abroad, but … there would always be problems with the visa,” he says. “When it came to my sporting career, it was an obstacle.” Mukhamadjon Turgunov became an Uzbek citizen this year after being stateless for 28 of his 29 years.

elderly woman sits in ruins with box of food
Photo:WFP/Mehedi Rahman

After the fire: WFP assists Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Nosiba Khatun sits amongst the ashes of what used to be her home, her only possession now is the food assistance she just received from WFP. 500 shelters were destroyed in the fire. Within just hours of fire breaking out, WFP sprung into action. It has provided around 3,500 people from the camps, and the wider community, with more than 21,000 hot meals. Nosiba is one of 22,500 Rohingya refugees who live in the Nayapara Registered Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, which is run by UNHCR. She and her family have been living here since the 1990s when one of the first groups of Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar and sought safety in neighbouring Bangladesh. 

portraits of Holocaust survivors
Photo:© Luigi Toscano

“Lest We Forget” photo exhibition

On the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust (27 January), UNESCO is showing the exhibition “Lest We Forget” at UNESCO Headquarters. “Lest We Forget” is an ever-evolving exhibition project by German-Italian photographer Luigi Toscano. Since 2014, he has portrayed over 400 survivors, capturing their stories and lending a human face to the abstract horrors of Nazi persecution. With his portraits, Luigi Toscano demonstrates that much more unites us than divides us – then and now.