Economic Development

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?

Not long ago, the 74 poorest countries in the world were well on the path to a better, more prosperous future. But COVID-19 is threatening all that. Today, health workers, teachers, students, employees, scientists, women, men and many others are weaving stories of resilience in the midst of this crisis.

Funicular coming up a mountain.

A new UN guide, supported by UNOPS, highlights how governments can use long-term infrastructure planning to save money, increase efficiency, and promote sustainability. Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development calls to vastly overhaul the way governments build and maintain infrastructure. Everything from water and sanitation systems to energy grids to transportation facilities must be strengthened in order to reduce waste and costs, improve the delivery of essential public services and ensure a sustainable future for all.

COVID-19 has shown that health, decent work and environmental sustainability are strongly linked. The principles of the circular economy – repair, re-use and recycle are key to achieving sustainable supply chains and can help promote decent work. 

man working with drill

The Productive Capacities Index (PCI) is an UNCTAD online portal with publications, manuals, resources and tools that allow policymakers to measure their countries’ performance in achieving their national development goals, as well as their ability to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Hands linked with drawn loops.

We step into a new decade bringing with us the shadow of the last. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged not just our everyday lives. It also drew our attention to the need to act as one to address the challenges of inequality, climate change and governance. In response, UNDP continues to work with its partners to deliver for those most in need. The pandemic tested international cooperation and the multilateral system that underpins it and showed, more starkly than ever, how we must respond collectively and in new more flexible ways to complex and unprecedented global challenges.

A man sits in front of a computer wearing a mask and face shield.

Although global economic output is recovering from its COVID-19 collapse, the World Bank Global Economic Prospects shows it will remain below pre-pandemic trends for a prolonged period.

A man balances two baskets full of cabbages on his back.

2020 has been a tumultuous year. This year, the number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in two decades. This makes recovery from the pandemic even more precarious. As we reflect on the year, let’s look at how IFAD and rural communities responded to the COVID-19 crisis and what we’ve learned for the coming year. For example, the impacts of COVID-19 have shown us that, in times of crisis, resilience at the local level is essential for survival. It is increasingly clear that rural development solutions have to be nature-friendly.

family with their goats

 As COVID-19 restrictions drove down prices, a family of dairy farmers has seen their income fall. Many dairy farming families are in a similarly difficult position. Customers who would usually come to their house to buy milk and cheese are no longer visiting, and local agro-tourism establishments aren’t buying. There are around 113,000 unregistered farms across Serbia, and they have been left particularly vulnerable during the crisis. These farms are not eligible for government support, and even the ones who are, do not receive enough money for subsidies from the municipality and the state to help ease the financial pain. UNDP in Serbia worked on the accelerated development of new solutions and organized help where it was needed most. 

A man riding a bicycle in full protective gear including a facemask.

The UNDP 2020 Human Development Report (HDR) doubles down on the belief that people’s agency and empowerment can bring about the action we need if we are to live in balance with the planet in a fairer world. It shows that we are at an unprecedented moment in history, in which human activity has become a dominant force shaping the planet. These impacts interact with existing inequalities, threatening significant development reversals. Nothing short of a great transformation is needed to change the path we are on. The Report explores how to jumpstart that transformation.

Maize hanging from a roof.

As the second most planted crop in the country, maize has an important bearing on welfare in a land where almost a quarter of people live in poverty, and where the poverty rate is four times higher in rural communities than in urban areas. The UNCTAD study, Analyzing the maize value chain for export in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, highlights measures that could help the country’s farmers capture a larger share of value from maize exports, and support poverty reduction efforts.  

A closeup of a person in a lab working with test tubes.

Global markets and spirits are up with the news that two COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be more than 90% effective in late-stage clinical trials. But while there is growing confidence that an end to the health pandemic is in sight, an UNCTAD report published today warns that a viable vaccine will not halt the spread of economic damage, which will be felt long into the future, especially by the poorest and most vulnerable.