UN DESA Annual Highlights Report 2020-2021

UNDESA’s Annual Highlights report is a tool to communicate the contributions of the Department to the realization of internationally agreed development goals and shared social, economic, and environmental aspirations. It showcases the Department’s role in gauging trends, building capacities, and shaping solutions. UN DESA Highlights 2020-2021 covers activities over the period of the 75th Session of the General Assembly (September 2020 – August 2021). Seven (7) thematic chapters showcase how UN DESA tailored its work to effectively address the impact of the overlapping crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also showcases six (6) cross-cutting approaches used by the Department to attain the expected results.

Fostering transformation towards a just, inclusive, and sustainable future


by Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs


The world continues to be faced with the grim realities and the inescapable impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, as of today, has no clear end in sight. As the global community grapples with what began as a health crisis and quickly escalated to a calamitous social and economic crisis, deep fault lines are felt in almost every aspect of our societies… UN DESA Highlights 2020-2021 provides a quick look into the many efforts undertaken by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to foster transformation towards the just, inclusive and sustainable vision for the future as enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.




Addressing poverty and the root causes of inequality

With the COVID-19 pandemic driving one of the greatest social and economic crises in the history of the United Nations, UN DESA’s work in 2020-2021 sought to shape solid recommendations and drive transformative action for inclusive social and economic policy, and people-centred development.
Download Chapter 1 (PDF)


Ensuring sustainable financing

UN DESA supported Member States and the global community to address the urgent issues of sustainable financing for development, with focus on staving off the debt and liquidity crises emergent from the economic impacts, and building resilience.
Download Chapter 2 (PDF)


Strengthening global data capacities

In 2020-2021, UN DESA helped put data to the task of effective decision-making, supporting Member States to build their capacities for collecting official data, tapping existing data sources, and developing new ones.
Download Chapter 3 (PDF)


Harnessing science, technology and innovation, and shaping digital transformation

In 2020-2021, UN DESA highlighted and promoted the role of science, technology and innovation to shape inclusive, resilient and sustainable recover and development. The Department’s work emphasized that the digital divide and other forms of inequality are mutually reinforcing, and both need to be tackled in tandem.
Download Chapter 4 (PDF)


Protecting our planet

Through its support to the High-level Dialogue on Energy, the Second Global Sustainable Transport Conference and the United Nations Forum on Forests, among others, the Department contributed a global narrative of interlinked key messages and recommendations for protecting our planet through sustainable use of natural and capital resources and climate action.
Download Chapter 5 (PDF)


Accelerating action on the SDGs

UN DESA’s work in 2020-2021 ensured that Member States had the support, information and advice they needed for effectively evaluating their progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The Department continued its work to identify and share good practices of implementation, including through its analysis and by supporting peer-to-peer learning and exchange.
Download Chapter 6 (PDF)


Building resilience and preparedness

2020 and 2021 heralded unprecedented challenges. The spread of the COVID-19 virus unleashed a vicious cycle of health, social, and economic shocks in every country, as very few were prepared to cope with the direct and indirect effects of a global pandemic. But the pandemic also helped decision-makers to see what we need to do better today, to build better, fairer communities for tomorrow. UN DESA’s analytical capacity was directed to help countries understand how to build greater resilience in the short run, while keeping an eye on implications for supporting people and the planet in the long-term.
Download Chapter 7 (PDF)

Cross-Cutting Areas