World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020

The World Employment and Social Outlook is the International Labour Organization’s flagship report on world of work issues, focusing on a different theme each year. The 2020 edition will be launched in Geneva on Monday, 20 January. The report analyses key labour market issues, including unemployment, under-employment, labour underutilization, working poverty, pay inequality, and factors that exclude people from the world of work. It includes some new projections, as well as revised estimates of the share of labour income going to the world’s workforce.

Workers on a construction site.
Photo:© ILO/Crozet M.
The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, was extensively damaged by the January 2010 earthquake.

Haiti earthquake victims honoured at UN, with pledge to safeguard the nation’s future

17 January 2020 — More than 200,000 Haitians who perished in the devastating earthquake which struck the island nation ten years ago, were honoured in a solemn ceremony of remembrance at UN...

Libya: ‘Dire and untenable’ situation for tens of thousands of children in unrelenting conflict

17 January 2020 — The world should not accept the “dire and untenable” situation facing children in wartorn Libya the head of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Friday.

Climate crisis ‘affecting quality of life and fuelling discontent’

16 January 2020 — The climate crisis, as well as persistently high inequalities, and rising levels of food insecurity and undernourishment, is affecting the quality of life in many societies and...

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.


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.

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.

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.

Icons of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. Today, progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030. 

More from the
United Nations

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

first session of the UN Security Council

UN in History: the Security Council meets for the first time

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London. Since that first meeting, the Security Council has taken permanent residence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters, so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises. All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.


Growing the future of La Guajira, Colombia

In 2018, when early warning forecasts indicated a strong likelihood of drought in La Guajira and an increase in the number of migrants, FAO acted to prevent the situation from deteriorating. FAO’s Early Warning Early Action team together with the FAO Colombia country office rolled out a programme to support and train farmers in boosting food production. Different ethnic groups took part in the training in Guayabal including the Wayúu people, the country’s largest indigenous group, as well as Afro-descendants and Venezuelan migrants. FAO’s early action helped to strengthen the social cohesion between these different groups and reduce the tensions that can arise in poorer areas when there is increased competition for jobs, soaring food prices and an influx of migrants.

graph showing rise in temperature since 1850

WMO confirms 2019 as second hottest year on record

The year 2019 was the second warmest year on record after 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s consolidated analysis of leading international datasets. Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods were the highest on record. Since the 1980s each decade has been warmer than the previous one. This trend is expected to continue, because of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This confirms WMO's preliminary assessment that 2019 was one of the three warmest years on record.

5 tips for a healthy diet this New Year

Whatever your New Year’s Resolution, a healthy and balanced diet will provide many benefits into 2019 and beyond. Here are some food tips for helping us lead healthier, longer lives.

First solo flight shows sky’s the limit for refugees

Four years ago Maya Ghazal fled the fighting in Syria. All refugees come to a new country hoping for a fresh start, but Maya stands out because of the determination with which she has pursued her goals. Now a trainee pilot, she’s advocating for opportunities for refugees.

Digital Agriculture

The ubiquity, portability and mobility of digital technologies are transforming agriculture and food production. FAO harnesses the power of digital technologies to pilot, accelerate and scale innovative ideas with high potential for impact in food and agriculture.

The dream and the bullet

Monday, 20 January 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. In this article in the UNESCO Courier, Alain Foix reflects on the legacy of the civil rights leader, best known for his “I have a dream” speech.   

children waiting for vaccinations

Accelerating towards a fairer future

There are 10 years left to achieve the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious plan to create a better future for people and the planet. Cutting child mortality by a third in Brazil, reaching carbon neutrality in Finland and redirecting trillions of dollars of investment to funds that promote sustainability: these are some examples of initiatives from governments, civil society and the private sector, designed to speed up the UN’s goal of achieving a fairer society for all.

forest fire

Are “megafires” the new normal?

The huge wildfires in Australia, Amazon, California, the Congo basin and Indonesia have drawn the world’s attention to the risks associated with extended periods of unusually hot and dry weather, which is an effect of climate change. The global average temperature is now 1.1°C higher than at the beginning of last century. Higher temperatures create, in some parts of the world, drier conditions, increasing the likelihood and intensity of wildfires, and megafires. 

Jamila Mahdi

“You can change your life to help others make a change”

Iraqi Jamila Mahdi is a former refugee. Although she was married at 13 and denied the right to education, she still had a strong determination to succeed. Jamila earned her high school diploma as an adult, followed by two university degrees. She now works as a Human Rights Officer in Iraq, for UN Human Rights. "Why did I choose to do this? I have a strong belief in the need to contribute to the protection of human dignity and social justice and the elimination of all types of discrimination," says Jamila in this personal essay.

Chef Pierre Thiam

Interview with Recipes for Change Chef Pierre Thiam

"As a chef, I believe that we have a responsibility and we should take concrete actions to tackle climate change. Farming communities are threatened and we need to support them by sourcing our food consciously." Born in Senegal and based in New York, Pierre Thiam's style of cooking has remained true to his roots. Recipes for Change is a series of recipes from developing countries, which look at the threats communities face through climatic change that affect some of the essential ingredients used in their main meal of the day.

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

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.

UNDP Eurasia brings you the story of Zahra, an Afghan young woman who went to Kazakhstan in order to study English and obtain a master's degree in Statistics.

Financing + Sustainability = The Future of Rural Water Systems

Access to clean water remains a struggle for many of the poorest households in rural areas. A World Bank pilot project in Tanzania is now bringing safe, clean water to 165 villages in the country by combining blended financing with emerging technologies including solar water pumps, pre-paid meters, chlorination and remote sensors. More info.

What can we do to protect the health of plants?

We can all support plant health by: reducing our environmental impact, cutting waste and polluting less, supporting organisms that protect plant life, respecting our natural resources, and Ensuring the plants or plant products we buy meet international standards. By supporting plant health, we work to ensure a food-secure future!

UN Podcasts

Economist Guido Tabellini is pictured inside a radio studio.

The Puzzle of Rising Populism with Guido Tabellini

Populist leaders and movements are on the rise across the world, but why now? Populism has been around since Ancient Rome.

In this IMF podcast, economist Guido Tabellini (Professor of Political Economics at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy) says the 2008 global financial crisis and technology are driving the recent resurgence. Tabellini says with growing inequality people disappointed by the policies of the past that have excluded them from the benefits of the global economy are voting more along cultural identity lines. Its the nationalists versus the cosmopolitans. 

More UN podcasts

Live Now

United Nations meetings, events, and press conferences live and on demand

The United Nations in Pictures

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

Kamal cradles his daughter who is holding a piece of bread, while a boy fondly looks at them.

Life in a Refugee Camp

Kamal, his mother Sona Meher, his wife Sofera Befum, and their daughter Nur Habiba and son Omur Faruk fled their home in Kyein Chaung – in the northern part of Myanmar's Maungdaw District – seeking safety in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. He lost at least 10 members of his family to the violence.

Work, volunteer, eat, heal, learn, play, dream... This is the story of their life in a refugee camp.

An areal view of the floating gardens of Lake Inle.
Photo:UNDP Myanmar/Kamal Raj Sigdel

Inle Lake: Nature and Livelihoods

Inle Lake is the second largest in Myanmar. Enlisted as a Ramsar site and a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve, it has long hosted a rich diversity of bird and fish species, and the Intha community depend on the wetland for their livelihoods. Yet, deforestation, pollution, unsustainable agriculture and tourism are threatening this ecosystem. UNDP joined forces to conserve the lake by launching a package of initiatives that have showcased how it is possible to reverse the environmental degradation and improve peoples’ lives.

A girl strokes a fawn on a guesthouse property.
Photo:UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina/Adnan Bubalo

The Balkans: an Epic Trail Comes to Life

At nearly 2,000 kilometres long, the Via Dinarica extends the entire length of the Dinaric Alps in the Western Balkans. It was first conceived of by a group of passionate hikers who wanted to connect Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania. The trail’s vision of cross-border cooperation is a healing notion, considering the region’s recent history of conflict. USAID and UNDP in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Montenegro supported a platform to develop local communities and small businesses in hospitality and tourism along the Via Dinarica.

A woman wearing a hard hat is walking on a construction site that is flooded in rain water.
Photo:IFC/Dominic Chavez

2019: IFC Projects in Pictures

More than half of Vietnam's population will relocate to urban areas in the next 30 years. This requires energy-efficient buildings and a sustainable strategy for growth. EDGE (the standard and certification system developed by the International Finance Corporation - IFC/World Bank Group) is already serving Vietnam’s need to go green. To date, EDGE has saved 12 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, reduced utility costs by $1.4 million, and lowered greenhouse emissions by 10,000 tons every year. IFC pursues results-focused solutions to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. This photo essay looks back at projects that have made a difference to communities around the world.