Population

Rights and choices are the answer

The pandemic has compromised health care systems particularly in sexual and reproductive health. It also exposed and exacerbated gender-based inequities: gender-based violence increased under lockdown, as did the risk of child marriage and female genital mutilation as programmes to abolish these harmful practices were disrupted. On World Population Day (11 July), UNFPA stands against reactionary policy responses, which can be extremely harmful. The agency emphasizes that women must be empowered educationally, economically, and politically to exercise choice over their bodies and fertility.

A woman of the semi-nomadic herder community at Hustai National Park is seen with her child inside a ger, a traditional dwelling, in Tuv province, Mongolia.
Photo:UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Many countries, like Brazil, are still hoping to reach large numbers of unvaccinated people.

UN chief urges G20 finance chiefs to support global COVID vaccine plan, climate finance

9 July 2021 — UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday urged the world’s largest economies to spearhead a global COVID-19 vaccination plan, expand debt relief to developing countries...

Syria: UN chief welcomes Security Council extension of vital cross-border aid operation

9 July 2021 — The UN chief has welcomed a decision on Friday by the Security Council to extend the UN cross-border aid operation in northwest Syria for another 12 months, providing a lifeline for...

Time running out for countries on climate crisis front line

8 July 2021 — The world’s running out of time to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, a matter of life or death for climate vulnerable countries on the front line of the...

UN Sustainable Development Goals

17 Goals to transform our world

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Act Now

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.

Decade of Action

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.

Thomas the Tank engine

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.

SDG media zone poster

The UN High-level Political Forum is the largest annual gathering on progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The media-led conversations of SDG Media Zone +, focused on reimagining a more equal and fairer world, will capture local and regional perspectives, taking the SDGs into the public discourse, at a time of unprecedented paradigm shifts.

More from the
United Nations

Featured stories from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

illustration of little boy and parents arriving at refugee camp Displaced Persons and Refugees, World Bank

Heeding the call of a country in crisis

Years into civil war, millions of Yemenis are in desperate need of food, shelter and healthcare. Already the poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa, persistent conflict since 2015 has kept Yemen in a relentless state of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has further torn at the seams of thread-bare medical and social protection systems, intensifying the need for urgent action. Amidst this expanse of uncertainty, the stories of the Yemeni people are full of rebuilding, hope and resilience. Read the story of Hassan's family and others, who have been helped by the World Bank and its partners.

dance performance with digital background Art, Economic Development, UNESCO

International Year of Creative Economy

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 female worker dries coffee beans Economic Development, UNCTAD

Build technological capacities to escape commodity dependence

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.

Food Aid, WFP

12 things you didn’t know about WFP

WFP buys more than three quarters of the food it delivers from developing countries and connects smallholder farmers, who produce most of the world's food, to markets in 35 countries. Find out more about the 2020 Peace Nobel Laureate.

Gender Equality, WHO

WHO to invest in women's empowerment

The World Health Organization announced multiple commitments focused on ending gender-based violence; advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights; and supporting health workers as well as feminist movements and leadership.

Agriculture and Food, FAO

Why soft skills are a core part of agricultural innovation

A lack of ‘soft skills’ is limiting progress for farmers in many rural areas. These skills include the ability to share new knowledge, communicate clearly and collaborate with other food system actors, negotiate with buyers and engage in policy dialogue processes.

Science and Technology, UNDP

Hello Future: Harnessing the force of digital

Hello Future is a UNDP video series exploring the trends shaping our world. From digitalization to inequality, to the climate emergency, to crisis response, we examine the critical issues facing humans and the place we call home, and what we must do if we're to get out of this century alive.

What we do

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, including:

Structure of the
United Nations

The main parts of the UN structure are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

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.

Learn more

The Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines located in the Øresund Straight separating Denmark and Sweden. UN Photo

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 at UN CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat”. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

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.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic

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.

young children smiling at camera

The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 arrived at a time of great upheaval and peril. To secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet we need a multilateral system that is inclusive, networked and effective. "Our Common Agenda" will build on the 12 commitments contained in the UN75 Declaration.

Watch and Listen

Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

It has been 40 years since the first reported cases of HIV and 25 years since the creation of UNAIDS. Take a look at the momentous moments of the past four decades. From HIV meaning a certain death to the spectacular progress made with treatment and prevention... It is time to act now and end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. It is possible.

Grover and Lucy Liu’s advice to parents

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up all sorts of new challenges for parents. Sesame Street’s Grover and UNICEF USA Ambassador Lucy Liu share tips on taking care of yourself and your little ones. Get more tips at UNICEF’s Parenting Hub, which brings together some of the world’s leading baby experts to help you with top tips and fun facts.

Restoration murals by SAM

With the support of over 80 prominent international street artists, Street Art for Mankind (SAM) curates and produces large murals, interactive exhibitions, and live performances around the world to bond communities and generations around human rights. Partnering with UNEP, SAM believes in the power of art to trigger social change.

UN Podcasts

Hands over a braille screen reader in front of a keyboard

Technology for good: Accessibility for all

People who identify as living with disability represent 15% of the world’s population, which is currently around 1 billion people. Within this population there exists a very wide array of disabilities encompassing physical mobility, autism and speech delays, persons who are deaf and hard of hearing, and persons with visual disability.

This episode explores innovations in the accessibility space developed by people living with disability who experienced and realised a need that was not being met and did something about it.

This podcast is the eleventh episode of “Technology for Good”- an ITU podcast series that focuses on how technology is helping to shape the world around us.

Latest Audio from UN News

The United Nations in Pictures

Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Aerial view of a lagoon choked with single-use plastic
Photo:UN Exhibits / Muntaka Chasant

Plastic is Forever

For decades we have relied on plastics to keep us safe, insulate our homes and make sure our food stays fresh. From cell phones to car parts, PPE to syringes, the use of plastic has made our lives easier. But when does plastic’s life come to an end? Plastic waste can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose, and even then, it just gets smaller and smaller. Yet of all discarded plastic so far, 12% has been incinerated, only 9% has been recycled, and the remainder has either been disposed of in landfills or released into the environment. This UN exhibit is organized by UNEP and partners.

An older lady using a mobile phone
Photo:UNDP India

Digital literacy opens a new world during COVID-19

Digital illiteracy has prevented many of the elderly and people living with disabilities in India from benefitting from technology. For them, both private-sector and government services still mean depending on a relative or a neighbour or trudging to a bank or government office and waiting in long queues. A partnership between UNDP and local government has helped not only impart digital but also financial literacy through the help of local volunteers. As a result, more than 20,000 elderly residents including people with disabilities, are now digitally literate in three cities of Odisha state.