Economic Development

A bunch of scooters on a crowded road in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.

UNCTAD’s updated SDG Pulse shows how the COVID-19 health crisis exacerbated many imbalances in 2020 and delayed progress towards the SDGs by presenting indicators such as trade and debt.

Two women at the market

Global growth is surging again, only a year after COVID-19 triggered the deepest recession since World War II.  According to the World Bank, this year is likely to mark the strongest post-recession rebound in 80 years: global GDP is expected to expand 5.6 percent. Almost all advanced economies will go back to their pre-pandemic per-capita income levels in 2022. In some parts of the world, the pandemic’s damage is being repaired quickly. For the world’s 74 poorest countries, accounting for roughly half of all people living on less than $1.90 a day, the global “recovery” is nowhere to be seen.

A female worker dries coffee beans

Developing countries whose economies depend on commodities must enhance their technological capacities to escape the trap that leaves most of their populations poor and vulnerable, says UNCTAD’s Commodities and Development Report 2021. About two thirds of developing countries were commodity dependent in 2019, meaning at least 60% of their merchandise export revenues came from primary goods, such as cacao, coffee, copper, cotton, lithium and oil. The report recommends identifying new sectors and designing targeted policies to promote innovation.

dance performance with digital background

Today, more and more people are turning their ideas and imaginations into livelihoods. The creative economy is one of the world’s most rapidly growing sectors, contributing 3% of the global GDP. Creativity is also a renewable, sustainable, limitless resource that we can find anywhere around the world. As we face climate crisis and the pandemic, its potential to drive a human-centric, inclusive development has never been more relevant. From 6 to 16 July 2021, UNESCO will highlight the infinite possibilities of digital technologies in an immersive virtual reality exhibition, Korea: Cubically Imagined.

A woman smiling surrounded by kids on a stage where the SDGs logos are displayed as a background

The question is formulated at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF),  the core UN platform for follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). This next meeting of the HLPF (6-15 July) focuses on a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19. The HLPF will review 9 of the 17 SDGs, where ministers and other participants will explore policies and international cooperation to control the pandemic and its impacts. To reach a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030, the world needs to be back on track in less than a decade.

health worker holding vaccine syringe

In an op-ed ahead of the G7 Summit, leaders of the IMF, the World Bank, WHO and WTO state that there will be no broad-based recovery without an end to the health crisis and that access to vaccination is key to both. Despite impressive progress on the vaccination front, increasingly, a two-track pandemic is developing, with richer countries having access and poorer ones being left behind. They call for a stepped-up coordinated strategy, backed by new financing at an estimated $50 billion, to vaccinate the world.

A group of women by a food processing tool.

Sub-Saharan Africa faces the task of trying to boost its economy while simultaneously dealing with repeated COVID-19 outbreaks. The IMF explains the three challenges finance ministers in sub-Saharan Africa are facing today: Firstly, to meet increased spending needs; secondly, to contain a pronounced increase in public debt, and finally, to mobilize more tax revenues. How policymakers navigate this trilemma will have a huge bearing on economic and social outcomes in the coming years.

dragon's blood trees in Socotra

The Dragon’s Blood tree, seen here, endemic to Socotra, is a tourist attraction. Socotra, south of the Arabian Peninsula, means “island abode of bliss” in Sanskrit. It is a hub for international holiday makers enjoying the breathtaking landscape and fascinating fauna, and diving, snorkeling, and trekking. When Yemen’s war broke out in March 2015, the island’s economy was devastated. Mother Nature has also recently been unkind, with severe water scarcity particularly in rural areas, and devastating cyclones. In partnership with the World Bank, UNDP, the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and our partners in Socotra’s communities, continue to work toward a brighter future for this isolated paradise.

medical worker holding up vaccine vial

The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development convenes from 17 to 21 May, bringing together UN leaders, led by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, scientists, including a Nobel laureate, and other experts to explore how new technologies can contribute to a sustainable and resilient COVID-19 recovery for all.

A group poses for a photo holding out orange juice jugs.

A finalist of UNCTAD’s award for women in business gets $10 million from her government to build a fresh juice factory that will promote sustainable agriculture and improve livelihoods in North Uganda. Julian Omalla produces one of Uganda’s most popular fruit drinks, Cheers, boasting a loyal customer base of over 5 million people. Affectionately known by many as “Mama Cheers”, the 56-year-old founder and chief executive is one of the east African nation’s foremost female entrepreneurs.

Every year, more than 2.3 million people die from workplace accidents and illnesses – while millions more experience a significant reduction in their quality of life. Watch this video to learn more about the need to build, sustain and reinforce strong health and safety cultures on construction sites.

people holding boxes of food supplies

While the past year has been tremendously challenging, there have been remarkable stories of human resilience, ingenuity, and creativity. From helping small companies weather the pandemic, through supporting women firefighters, creating sustainable jobs for youth, connecting people to high-quality healthcare and vulnerable groups to food suplies, to kickstarting sanitizer production - the World Bank shares six stories of hope from around the globe. These are not billion-dollar projects, but the tales of everyday entrepreneurship and innovation happening on a small scale with a big impact.

Woman wearing a facemask pulls down her sleeve to get the vaccine.

New projections show stronger growth than expected in 2021, but the untackled problems of inequality, indebtedness and weak investment threaten hopes for a more resilient future. The global economy is set to grow by 4.7% this year, faster than predicted in September (4.3%), thanks in part to a stronger recovery in the United States, where progress in distributing vaccines and a fresh fiscal stimulus of $1.9 trillion are expected to boost consumer spending, says the update to UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2020.

drawing of a ladder coming out of a hole

Twelve months, twelve lessons from the pandemic: Facts save lives; Be fast, be global; Everything is connected; We are not all treated equally, and that needs to change; Progress can be precarious; Biodiversity is keeping us alive; Women’s leadership is needed more than ever; Many hands make light work – even if some are not human; Migrants are the future; The more we know, the more effectively we can act; The SDGs are more vital than ever; A crisis is also an opportunity.

Illustration of a hand holding out the globe.

UNEP’s Global Recovery Observatory on green spending brings together global leaders and international institutions to debate progress, explore openings, and attempt to answer some of the major questions following the Covid-19 pandemic. An online UN-Oxford panel discussion is asking and answering the questions that matter: What is at risk if we fail to build back better? Can recovery spending bring strong economic and job impacts while securing environmental progress? How can countries better leverage recovery spending to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and more equitable world?