The theme for this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October) addresses the challenge of achieving social and environmental justice for all. The growing recognition of the multi-dimensionality of poverty means that these two issues are inseparably intertwined, and that social justice cannot be fully realized without aggressively rectifying environmental injustices at the same time. The participation, knowledge, contributions and experience of people living in poverty must be reflected in our efforts to build an equitable and sustainable world.
Clay cakes, sun-baked clay, butter and salt, have become a symbol of Haiti's struggles with extreme poverty and hunger.
The ActNow campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined 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.
UNEP’s novel World Environment Situation Room provides real-time data on fine particulate matter in the atmosphere from fires, informing scientists, policy-makers and citizens alike. The platform is a collaboration between the UN and Swiss firm IQAir, which operates its own air quality monitoring platform. At maximum zoom-out, it shows a map of the planet, with arrows depicting wind patterns and air quality areas represented by a shading system; green is good, yellow moderate, orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups.
A UNESCO report released on the International Day of the Girl Child shows that 180 million more girls have enrolled in primary and secondary education since 1995. However, despite an increase across all levels of education, girls are still more likely to suffer exclusion than boys, and this is further exacerbated by the current pandemic. It therefore remains vital for governments to tackle persisting discrimination to achieve equality for the next generation of girls, argues the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.
With many still unemployed, small businesses struggling, and 80‑90 million people likely to fall into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, it is too early for governments to remove the exceptional support. Yet many countries need to do more with less, given increasingly tight budget constraints. The IMFOctober 2020 Fiscal Monitor examines countries’ experiences managing the crisis and discusses what governments can do to save lives, reduce the impact of the recession, and revive growth and job creation.
A UN report published to mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13, confirms how extreme weather events have come to dominate the disaster landscape in the 21st century. The report “The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019” registers a sharp increase of extreme weather events over the previous twenty years, with much of the difference explained by a rise in climate-related disasters. Globally, there were around 6,700 climate-related disasters including severe floods and storms in the time-period 2000-2019 compared to 3,600 climate-related disasters compared to the time-frame 1980-1999.
Rapid assessments examining the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable workers and enterprises in fragile Arab states, show a significant reduction in jobs and incomes for both Syrian refugees and host communities. Limited financial capacities to cope with the crisis have led to a deterioration in living and working conditions of all workers, the assessments found. The studies, conducted by the ILO in collaboration with a range of development and humanitarian partners, show that Syrian refugees, informally employed workers, women and younger workers have been disproportionately affected by the crisis in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
Small Island Developing States don’t need to be told that climate change is real – they’re already seeing the impact. Many of these countries are only a few metres above sea level, leaving them vulnerable to and disproportionately affected by climate change-driven shocks and hazards. We must enable governments to make better-informed investment decisions when it comes to designing and building infrastructure that can withstand climate change-driven threats. UNOPS is helping countries like Saint Lucia to protect its people and infrastructure from the threat of climate change and build resilience to its impact.
To take decisions, we need information – especially when we are trying to solve complex problems. Forests are home to most of the earth’s biodiversity, and they supply us with water, livelihoods and food. Reducing deforestation and managing the world’s forest resources sustainably is among the biggest challenges of our time. Just like the simple decisions we make every day, information is needed to make us aware of what is at stake and help us solve the problem. FAO provides countries with technical support and innovative tools to help them gather the data they need to monitor and protect their forests.
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.
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.
On the Brink - Emissions Gap Report 2019
As the world strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, it is crucial to track progress towards globally agreed climate goals. For a decade, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report has compared where greenhouse gas emissions are heading against where they need to be, and highlighted the best ways to close the gap. Are we meeting goals of the Paris Climate Agreement?
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.
Once There’s Life, There’s Hope
"... the way we negotiate peace is that we negotiate with those who were fighters or at the warring parties. And typically, women are not fighters and not warring parties. So women always have to beg and negotiate and try to engage in all of those processes. That is not sustainable, because it doesn't reflect the entire society. It doesn't reflect their needs, and what needs to change. Because conflict in itself is a result of bad governance, and that some things were wrong, so in a way, the way we construct peace processes that does not include women and other groups, it's almost, the way I see it, is almost like rewarding those who fight."
In this episode of Awake At Night, Funmi Balogun (head of Humanitarian Action at UN Women) speaks with Melissa Fleming about her work in supporting some of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls - the ones who are displaced or are refugees. Ms. Balogun works to make sure that the humanitarian response does not perpetuate gender inequality. Ms. Balogun says her upbringing in Nigeria spurred her to fight against gender inequality - it’s something she has experienced in her own community - and the rolling back of rights for women across the globe in recent years keeps her awake at night.
Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.
Photo:UN Mozambique/Karel Prinsloo/Arete
12 things you didn’t know about the World Food Programme
As the world’s biggest humanitarian organization picks up a Nobel Peace Prize, here are a few things about WFP you might want to know, among them: WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency, assisting 100 million people in 88 countries; WFP is the frontline agency responding to emergencies caused by conflict, climate shocks, pandemics and other disasters; WFP provides school meals to 17.3 million children, improving both their nutrition and their access to a potentially life-changing education. Find out more and DONATE to help the World Food Programme save lives and change lives.
Photo:UNDP BiH/Sulejman Omerbašić
Reducing climate change effects and risks in Bosnia and Herzegovina
In March 2019 eight members of the Civil Protection Rescue Unit in the city of Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, were certified for water rescue - through the International Rafting Federation, Swiftwater and Whitewater Rescue Technician training. Equipped with high quality boats, suits, safety and other equipment, these are the people that you want responding next time a flood hits. In the face of climate change and other concurrent crises, strong disaster risk reduction is more important than ever. COVID-19 and the climate emergency are telling us that we need clear vision, comprehensive plans, and competent, empowered institutions acting on scientific evidence for the public good.
The trail-blazing female entrepreneur leading Afghanistan’s growing saffron market
Karima Sadiqi, owner of a saffron production company in Herat province, Afghanistan, is opening doors for Afghan women to enter the saffron industry. As a woman in Afghanistan’s conservative society, it was not easy for Karima to get her family’s permission to begin her own business. She is fighting against this prejudice, currently employing 28 women in her company. With a little help and training from FAO's “Promoting the Value Chain - West (PVCW)” programme, Karima’s saffron business is booming. One of the FAO project’s key objectives is to support women in starting their own businesses and taking advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the saffron trade.
Ten crises that need your attention
COVID-19 has hit dozens of countries that are also dealing with humanitarian crises. Rather than divert vital funding from these humanitarian operations, which are keeping tens of millions of people alive, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 has required significant additional funding. As of the end of September, 259 million people need our help. This is almost triple the number of people in need at the same time last year. Critical funding provides these people with life-saving support including food; malnutrition treatment; cholera, measles and polio prevention; emergency education and protection. We highlight 10 crises that the international community cannot neglect.