When solidarity comes from the South

Considering the current pandemic, South-South cooperation is more important than ever. Several countries of the global South have already demonstrated effective responses to COVID-19, so they can help other less developed to build more resilient societies during the crisis. In observance of the International Day of South-South Cooperation (12 September),  the United Nations hosts a virtual event  on 10 September at  9 a.m. EDT to reflect on the vital role of international solidarity towards the Sustainable Development Goals, while effectively responding to the global COVID-19 crisis.

Children washing their hands before the school feeding at Los Vados, Guatemala, as part of a school feeding program based on the FAO-Brazil Regional Cooperation Programme.
Photo:©Pep Bonet/NOOR for FAO.
Women protesters hold hands in solidarity  over the disputed presidential election in Belarus.

Belarus: UN chief deeply concerned over use of force against peaceful protesters

11 September 2020 — Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday expressed deep concern over the continued use of force against peaceful protestors in Belarus and detention of those exercising...

WHO warns against potential Ebola spread in DR Congo and beyond

11 September 2020 — Ebola is spreading in a western province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising fears that the disease could reach neighbouring Republic of Congo and even the...

Leaders pledge ‘quantum leap’ towards fully funding COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

10 September 2020 —  
Global leaders, including more than 30 Heads of State and Ministers, have underlined their commitment towards fast-tracking the development and production of COVID-19...

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.

Icons of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face. Find out more and learn how they are all connected.

More from the
United Nations

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

The logo of the report.

Climate Change has not stopped for COVID19

United in Science 2020, the new multi-agency report coordinated by WMO, highlights the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, which affects glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions. It also documents how COVID-19 has impeded our ability to monitor these changes. Emissions are heading in the direction of pre-pandemic levels following a temporary decline caused by the lockdown and economic slowdown. The world is set to see its warmest five years on record – in a trend which is likely to continue.

The portrait of a woman holding a megaphone.

Five years of climate leadership

Just after the world came together for the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, the Bank Group unveiled an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan to ramp up financial and technical support to developing countries to step up climate action. The World Bank Group committed to increasing climate finance from 20% of lending in 2016 to 28% by 2020. This target was exceeded each year for the last three consecutive years. In total, over the duration of the Action Plan, the Bank Group has delivered over $83 billion in climate finance.

A child holding a doll among other children faces the camera.

Progress to end preventable child deaths in jeopardy

The number of under-five deaths dropped to its lowest point on record in 2019 – down to 5.2 million from 12.5 million in 1990, according to new UN mortality estimates. Since then, however, surveys by UNICEF and WHO reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major disruptions to health services that threaten to undo decades of hard-won progress. Health check-ups, vaccinations and prenatal and post-natal care, are restricted due to resource constraints and general uneasiness with using health services due to fear of getting COVID-19.

Acting before droughts hit

When FAO’s early warning system indicated a possible drought, field staff consulted with the farmers likely to be the most affected before tailoring action plans to their needs.

Reading is key to development

UNESCO recalls COVID-19 has disrupted education, affecting more than 91% of students, among them are 773 million adults and young people who still lack basic literacy skills.

Pregnancy during COVID-19

For expectant mothers facing the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, fear, anxiety and uncertainty are clouding this otherwise happy time. UNICEF seeks advice from midwives.

Tourism and rural development

UNWTO celebrates “Tourism and Rural Development” as this year’s World Tourism Day theme, as countries around the world look to tourism, as a leading employer, to drive recovery.

A seafarer in uniform stares out at sea.

Allow crew changes to resolve humanitarian crisis

A humanitarian crisis is taking place at sea and urgent action is needed to protect seafarers’ health and ensure the safety of shipping, warns IMO. It is estimated that more than 300,000 seafarers and marine personnel are currently stranded at sea and unable to be repatriated despite the expiry of their contracts. A similar number of seafarers have been unable to join ships and relieve them. This is due to restrictions imposed by several governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A group of people linger by a hut.

Hunger and fear stalk survivors of attack

Eighteen people died and others wounded in an overnight attack in Cameroon close to the Nigerian border, where thousands of internally displaced people have sought safety. Insecurity in the Far North region continues. 2,000 residents have adjusted their routines in fear of attack, making their lives even harder. UNHCR provides protection and assistance with water, food, shelter and other items to more than 400,000 refugees in Cameroon, mainly from Nigeria and the Central African Republic.

A man stands in front of a group with charts and graphs.

Changemakers help Pakistan’s migrant workers

Labour migration from Pakistan has steadily increased in recent decades and continues to improve family and community livelihoods. However, a lack of good information about safe migration, fair recruitment channels and related services is a key challenge for those interested in becoming migrant workers. ILO warns that without accurate information they can be vulnerable to deception and even abuse. Volunteers aim to ensure fair recruitment and safe migration for migrant workers from Pakistan.

A young man with a big smile holds two handfuls of seeds.

Seeds to riches: The 29-year-old millionaire

Sumaka Japhet is a young rice seed cultivator and agricultural entrepreneur. In 2017, after finishing university, he heard about and joined the IFAD-supported project that gave him a start-up kit containing fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, as well as quality, certified seed – and those few items forever changed the way he cultivated rice. He also received technical support and training on rice seed production. Each growing season, he sold the seed and invested his earnings into the next.

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

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

Did you know?

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.

Watch and Listen

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

The 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly opens this September, marking three quarters of a century of the Organization’s existence. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, climate crisis and rising inequality, world leaders convene to tackle the most pressing issues of the day. The 75th General Assembly session will be like none before it as countries aim to rise to unprecedented challenges and forge lasting solutions.

COVID-19 didn't stop climate change

There was a temporary decline in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by the COVID-19 lockdown and economic slowdown. But now, greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations are heading in the direction of pre-pandemic levels. The lockdown-related decline in emissions will not stabilize global warming. The global heating trend will continue. COVID-19 didn't stop climate change. There can be no delay in climate change action by all countries and sectors.

Closing dumpsites for better health

Some 330,000 premature deaths in the Americas are caused each year by pollution from open landfill dumpsites where waste is usually burned. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are thousands of dumpsites which are health hazards and which also contribute to climate change. Several countries are working to close them. Three countries have already have closed sites and replaced them with environment friendly sites: Mexico (in 2011); Nicaragua (in 2016), and Brazil (in 2018).

UN Podcasts

A group of children looking at the camera.

It’s time for a criminal probe into Yemen tragedy

All parties to the conflict in Yemen - and the humanitarian catastrophe that it has created – are responsible for terrible crimes which should be investigated by an international criminal probe. 

That’s the message from rights investigator Melissa Parke; she’s part of a Human Rights Council panel which is calling for the Security Council to address what she calls a “pandemic of impunity”.  

Here she is talking to UN News’s Daniel Johnson about the findings of the Group Of Experts’ latest report into the war-torn country. 

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.

Skyscrapers surrounded by smog.

All you need to know about air pollution

UNEP explains air pollution is the result of gas and particle emissions, and their chemical reactions with the atmosphere. It can be caused by natural sources like volcanic eruptions, sea spray and lightning. But the majority is caused by five types of human activity: household, industry, transportation, agriculture, and waste. Nine out of every ten people are breathing unclear air. Ultimately, around 7 million people die every year from diseases and infections related to air pollution – more than five times the number of people who die in road traffic collisions.

A woman riding a motorcycle carrying a WFP bag.
Photo:WFP/Morelia Eróstegui

Conquerors, climate change and coronavirus

A woman riding a motorbike stands out against the desert-like landscape, as its engine roars. She’s heading home from a WFP emergency food distribution in the Department of Oruro, a six-hour drive from Bolivia’s capital, La Paz. Despite the dryness all around this area was until recently home to the country’s second-largest lake. Sitting at 3,700 metres above sea level, Lake Poopó’s saline waters used to cover an area of 2,530 km² — more than three times the size of New York City. By December 2015, however, the impact of climate change had caused the lake to dry up.

Women wearing facemasks sew facemasks.
Photo:© UN-Habitat Nepal

Creating new opportunities for home workers in Nepal

An EU-funded project to support Nepal’s informal sector workers hit hard by the COVID-19 prevention measures has provided them with work producing facemasks. Immediately after the COVID-19 lockdown, the UN-Habitat led project, Parya Sampada, was repurposed to support local women to make face masks and other personal protective equipment. Informal settlement workers lost their work stopping their source of livelihood and would have been left without an income due to the lockdown. Bidhya Narkami and 13 other members from the Bungamati community produce face masks and other material.

A man on a mopping vehicle in the General Assembly
Photo:UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Quiet corridors but a full programme at virtual UNGA75

This month, there will be no bumping into presidents or the occasional global celebrity at UN Headquarters in New York. There will be no marvelling at the presidential motorcades and no “standing-room only” moments in the General Assembly. The Organization’s busiest time of the year is reimagined in the time of COVID-19. Most leaders will not be appearing in person and meetings are going virtual, but that’s not to say that the wheels of global diplomacy and sustainable development will not be turning at the usual speed. UN News brings us the five things to look out for at UNGA 75.