Cover of the report.

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.

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.

Ocean life, fish and coral, underwater.

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.

Illustration representing life on land and sea life.

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.

A smiling girl gets served a plate a food by a worker with a WFP apron in Sri Lanka.

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.

Glaciers against a mountain range

The currencies held by central banks as foreign exchange reserves have remained largely steady over decades. Changes of these holdings can be described as glacial in pace. But geopolitical shifts and technological revolutions are reshaping the global economy and the international use of currencies. These forces, and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, could further accelerate the transformations in the reserve holdings of central banks. A new IMF staff paper analyses the composition and drivers of central banks’ reserve currency holdings over recent decades.

Screens showing heart rates lines.

During the 2000 to 2019 period, noncommunicable diseases made up 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death, according to WHO’s 2019 Global Health Estimates.

Illustration of interconnected environments.

The UNEP 2020 Greening the Blue report provides a snapshot of the UN System’s environmental impacts throughout 2019 and the activities underway to reduce them.

Image of a busy street with the letters over the image that read: 2020 The Year in Review.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, the World Bank provides an overview in 12 charts and graphics, of its research in the face of a truly unprecedented crisis.

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.

Cover of the report

For the first time in a relationship spanning 300,000 years, instead of the planet shaping humans, humans are shaping the planet. This is the Anthropocene: the age of humans. COVID-19 and its unprecedented effects on human development are a cautionary tale of the type of challenges we are likely to face in the Anthropocene, unless humans transform the way we interact with the planet. But the future is not set in stone– yet. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to choose to change, and the 2020 Human Development Report (HDR), set to launch on 15 December, suggests a way forward.

report cover

For over a decade, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report has provided a yearly review of the difference between where greenhouse emissions are predicted to be in 2030 and where they should be to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The report finds that, despite a brief dip in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.

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.  

Map of the world colour-coded by temperature.

Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, according to the WMO.

Illustration of interconnectivity.

While most urban areas are covered by a mobile-broadband network, worrying gaps in internet access persist in rural areas, according to ITU’s Measuring Digital Development: Facts and figures 2020. Connectivity gaps in rural areas are particularly pronounced in least developed countries (LDCs), where 17 per cent of the rural population live in areas with no mobile coverage at all, and 19 per cent of the rural population is covered by only a 2G network. 72 per cent of households in urban areas has access to the Internet at home, almost twice as much as in rural areas.