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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What is the 'Paris Agreement', and how does it work?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.