World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action since 1974, but we are still struggling to meet our commitment our planet. It would take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands that humans make on nature each year. This year it is “Time for Nature”. The 2020 focus of the observance is on biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life.
The Panda Base in Chengdu, China is famous for the protection and breeding of endangered wild animals that are unique to China.
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.
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.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China in late December 2019, the disease has spread to more than 200 countries and territories. In the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment, governments worldwide have responded by implementing unprecedented containment and mitigation measures—the Great Lockdown. This in turn has resulted in large short-term economic losses, and a decline in global economic activity not seen since the Great Depression. Did it work? IMF analysis, based on a global sample, suggests that containment measures, by reducing mobility, have been very effective in flattening the “pandemic curve.”
ICAO has adopted guidelines for the restart and recovery of global air travel in a safe, secure and sustainable way. The COVID-19 recommendations were produced by the Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART). They were developed through broad-based consultations with countries and regional organizations, and with important advice from the World Health Organization and key aviation industry groups. “Countries and operators need both autonomy and certainty as they take action to get the world flying again,” said CART Chairperson Ambassador Philippe Bertoux, the Representative of France to the ICAO Council.
The UN Human Rights Office in Mexico has been working hard to provide reliable and accurate information surrounding the COVID-19 virus, the emergency measures and the human rights issues impacted by it all. Gabriela Gorjón is a public information officer, who has worked to break down information silos, helping to create cross-regional public information campaigns to help sort fact from fiction during the pandemic. She says it's a challenge to compete with social media sources for people's attention, but it's an important function: "We need to be one step ahead in the shaping of the world that we want to live in after this crisis."
UNESCO is launching an unprecedented public survey to gain insights into global sentiment on the major challenges that threaten peace around the world today and the solutions needed to address them. Take the survey
Menstruation is misunderstood and stigmatized around the world, a fact likely to worsen under the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are nine things you need to know about periods and the pandemic – and what the world needs to do about it.
As Latin America emerges as the new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warns of worsening conditions for displaced Venezuelans in the southern region of the continent as winter approaches. In addition to health risks, COVID-related lockdowns and confinement measures have already resulted in severe hardship for Venezuelan refugee and migrants. Many have now lost their livelihoods and are faced with poverty, destitution, eviction, widespread hunger and food insecurity as well as increased protection risks. With the approaching cold weather, UNHCR is bracing for a deepening of the crisis.
Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD writes that "in most of Africa, people are more likely to die from starvation caused by the economic fallout from the pandemic than from the disease itself. An additional 23 million people are expected to be pushed into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa this year alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that our current food production, processing and distribution systems are vulnerable." He says investing in small-scale farmers can help boost food security on the continent.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released a set of guidelines to help tourism sector emerge stronger and more sustainably from COVID-19. Depending on when travel restrictions are lifted, the UN specialized agency warns that international tourist arrivals could fall by between 60% and 80%. This puts 100-120 million jobs at risk and could lead to US$ 910 billion to US$ 1.2 trillion lost in exports. The guidelines highlight the need to act decisively, to restore confidence and, as UNWTO strengthens its partnership with Google, to embrace innovation and the digital transformation of global tourism.
A small business making natural products from jujube and tamarind has kept its doors open and workers safe thanks to the BioTrade principles and criteria for the sustainable commerce of plant and animal-based goods and services adopted before the pandemic. Besides being turned into healthy juices and syrups, the Jujube tree’s red fruit, commonly known as a red or Chinese date, is a key ingredient in traditional medicines. A slight drop in turnover hasn’t put the company’s future in jeopardy, which is important for women’s economic empowerment in the township, as 90% of factory employees are female.
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.
To care for humanity, we MUST care for nature
Nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world – to our own detriment. And now, a new coronavirus is raging, undermining health and livelihoods. To care for humanity, we MUST care for nature. We need our entire global community to change course. As we work to build back better, let’s put nature where it belongs -- at the heart of our decision making. On this World Environment Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sends us this message: It’s Time for Nature.
The secret is out: The tobacco industry targets the vulnerable
WHO exposes the tobacco industry, which for decades, has deliberately employed strategic, aggressive and well-resourced tactics to attract youth to tobacco and nicotine products. Internal industry documents reveal in-depth research and calculated approaches designed to attract a new generation of tobacco users, from product design to marketing campaigns aimed at replacing the millions of people who die each year from tobacco-attributable diseases with new consumers – youth.
The Shadow Pandemic: Domestic violence in the wake of COVID-19
A deadly #ShadowPandemic of domestic violence is surging in the wake of COVID-19. Violence against women and girls has intensified in countries around the world. While lockdown measures help limit the spread of the virus, women and girls experiencing violence at home increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them. UN Women joins forces with Kate Winslet to shine a light on the shadow pandemic and outline three things you can do to help.
Branding Hawaiian culture with tattoos
The teaching of traditional cultural practices like tattooing not only preserves cultural identities but underlines the important role indigenous people can play in the modern world; that’s according to a practitioner of the art of tattooing in Hawaii.
Keone Nunes, brought the practice of the traditional art form back to Hawaii from Samoa in the 1990s after it was largely forgotten in the US island state.
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
Meet the Central Africans laying down their weapons and making a stand for peace
Since 2013, armed conflict has affected all aspects of life for people living in the Central African Republic and has resulted in countless deaths, displacement, and the destruction of businesses and public institutions. As part of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the small landlocked country, a community violence reduction programme is helping communities address conflict and reduce the incentive to join armed groups. UNOPS shows us some of their stories.
Millions of lives must be saved in Yemen
As COVID-19 continues to spread, the UN Humanitarian agency presents the case of Yemen. People with severe symptoms are turned away from health facilities that are either full or unable to provide treatment. This is happening in a country that is already the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Over five years of conflict, eighty per cent of Yemen’s population need humanitarian assistance and protection. But now the coronavirus introduces a new set of horrors and profound risks.
Coronavirus puts 14 million people at risk in Latin America and the Caribbean
As South America becomes a new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Health Organization, measures taken to contain its spread look set to take a devastating toll on the broader Latin America and Caribbean region. WFP estimates that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity could quadruple from the current 3.4 million to 13.7 million in 2020 - based on analysis in countries where it has a presence. WFP, therefore, runs projects in the region.
Bringing the classroom home in Pakistan
Like millions of other students around the world Najeeba found out she wouldn’t be able to continue studying at school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Najeeba volunteered for “Mera Ghar Mera School”, which means “My Home, My School”. Around 375 WhatsApp groups have been created under the initiative, with almost 14,000 group members. UNICEF-supported teams are also providing online support to parent-teacher school management committees and local education councils.