United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

1. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the priorities of your organization? 

To help Governments and other actors address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and promote a sustainable recovery while building synergies among the SDGs, DESA has built on its multifaceted expertise in supporting intergovernmental processes; providing relevant analysis, data and statistics; and capacity-building activities.   

As part of its work in supporting UN conferences and intergovernmental processes related to sustainable development, including the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its subsidiary machinery and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), DESA has assisted the shift in the focus of the global community towards ensuring an SDG-guided recovery from the pandemic by preparing related programmes, reports and background documents. For example, DESA supported the special session of the General Assembly on COVID-19, and an ECOSOC special meeting on access to vaccines. DESA, as part of the support provided to the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), undertook, along with CDP members, a comprehensive study on the impacts of COVID-19 on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and gathered information on COVID-19 impacts to inform the CDP’s recommendations on graduation from the LDC category and the monitoring of graduating and recently graduated countries.  

DESA has also strengthened its efforts to identify and promote policies and governance strategies at all levels that address the root causes of inequality within and across countries, with an emphasis on promoting and supporting the development of effective systems of social protection. To address intersectionality and discrimination, special attention has been placed on women and girls, as well as youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, building on the Department’s expertise in these areas. In the wake of COVID-19, DESA undertook a range of immediate actions to support and advise the Secretary-General and help Member States to respond to the pandemic and navigate the policy choices ahead including by providing a wealth of up-to-date research, analysis and policy advice and contributing to the monitoring of the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19.  

A key area of focus for DESA is to support Member States and the global community to coordinate efforts related to development financing. DESA continued to advance policy and action on financing for sustainable development, in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, through the annual Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR). The 2021 FSDR responded to the request made by Member States by reviewing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on financing for sustainable development, and proposed recommendations to rebuild better. DESA carried out additional activities to support Member States on issues related to COVID-19, within the overall scope of its objectives, namely, by providing support to the Initiative on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, convened by Canada, Jamaica and the United Nations. DESA has provided guidance and options for shaping more sustainable financing systems with special emphasis on fairer management of international debt. DESA also works on guiding effective inclusion of the private sector in strengthening development financing. Effective domestic resource mobilization through International Financing Frameworks, strengthened international tax cooperation, and guidance on curbing of illicit financial flows, remained highlights of the work.  

DESA has also been devoting particular attention to building the capacities of Member States and strengthening public institutions to tap the 2030 Agenda as a framework for working across issues and sectors using whole-of-government approaches. As a result of the pandemic, DESA's capacity development efforts at the national and sub-national levels have shifted from in-person to online, leveraging different online tools. 

2. In 2020/2021, how has your organization endeavored to support Member States to build back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda? Please select up to three high-impact initiatives to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. How has your organizations cooperated with other UN system organizations in those efforts to achieve coherence and synergies?   


2021 high-level political forum on sustainable development (2021 HLPF) 


Funds, programmes and other UN system organizations, intergovernmental organizations, ECOSOC subsidiary bodies, major groups and other stakeholders 

Relevant SDGs

All SDGs, with special focus on Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17

Member States benefiting 



The HLPF in 2021 reviewed the impact of COVID-19 on all SDGs.  It conducted in depth reviews of Sustainable Development Goals 1 on no poverty, 2 on zero hunger, 3 on good health and well-being, 8 on decent work and economic growth, 10 on reduced inequalities, 12 on responsible consumption and production, 13 on climate action, 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and 17 on partnerships in depth. The Forum also considered the integrated, indivisible and interlinked nature of the Sustainable Development Goals.  DESA/DSDG supported the preparations of the specific SDGs’ reviews by the HLPF, while DESA/SD prepared the SDG progress report.  

Ministers and other participants were able to explore various aspects of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. They discussed the kind of policies and international cooperation that can control the pandemic and its impacts and put the world on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030, within the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.  DESA shaped the draft programme and all background documents to support the discussions.  It also prepared a report of the Secretary-General on the theme “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”: Report of the Secretary-General  

The 2021 HLPF resulted in a negotiated ministerial declaration. The declaration confirmed that the 2030 Agenda and SDG implementation are a global blueprint to respond to the negative direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19, prevent future pandemics and build a better future for all. It addressed all nine SDGs that were under the discussion during the 2021 HLPF as well as the cross-cutting issues of gender equality, countries in special situations, the world drug problem, migration, protection, respect and fulfilment of human rights and human dignity, peace, justice, equality and non-discrimination, children and youth, trade, biodiversity loss, disaster risk reduction, science-policy interface, enhancing global equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics by all countries and peoples, infrastructure and south-south and triangular cooperation as well as importance of regional cooperation.  

DESA has also supported countries that presented their voluntary national reviews (VNRs) at the 2020 and 2021 HLPF by organizing three global workshops each year and supporting regional VNR workshops in each of the 5 regions. It has also updated the SG’s voluntary guidelines on the VNRs, notably to encourage countries to report on COVID-19 and the measures they are undertaking to adapt and mitigate its effects on the 2030 Agenda. This has also been reflected in the VNR Handbook that is updated each year in all 6 UN languages. DESA has also established a VNR Knowledge Hub with three databases consisting of: one with countries who have presented their VNRs to date and their reports, one on lessons learned and best practices from the VNRs and one on tools for VNR preparation.  





Initiative on Financing for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond


UN System, Member States

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Member States benefiting



DESA played a key role in supporting the Initiative on Financing for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, launched by the Secretary General, Canada and Jamaica. DESA supported the six discussion groups to prepare a menu of policy options to address financing challenges, particularly on debt vulnerability and private sector creditors engagement. The elaborated policy options were considered by Finance Ministers and discussed at the special meeting of Heads of State and Government on the margins of the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Following these discussions, six clusters have been set up to advance these policy options, with DESA leading on two of these clusters: liquidity and debt vulnerability; and addressing special country needs. 

The menu of policy options on debt and liquidity complemented recommendations in the 2021 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, which provided timely policy advice and analysis to inform global discussions on debt and liquidity. There were proposals to (i) provide liquidity and debt relief in the short term, to allow countries to address the fallout from the pandemic (e.g. by allocating SDRs, extending the DSSI, in terms of eligibility and time frame; and through debt swaps and other forms of debt relief), and (ii) to make improvements in the international sovereign debt architecture in the spirit of building back better (e.g. through the greater use of state-contingent debt instruments, and progress on debt restructuring mechanisms). Since then, the DSSI has been extended, there has been a new allocation of SDRs and the G20 has adopted the Common Framework for Debt Treatment Beyond DSSI.





Curriculum on Governance for the Sustainable Development Goals  


Resident Coordinators Offices, UN specialized agencies and Regional Commissions, Governments, Schools of Public Administration, Institutions with Training Mandate

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Member States benefiting



The Curriculum on Governance for the Sustainable Development Goals aims to promote a critical understanding of sustainable development issues, enhance governance capacity, and strengthen public servants' awareness of their active role in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. It aims at developing the knowledge and capacities required to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and support concrete outcomes and lasting impact. The Curriculum’s themes were developed in collaboration with schools of public administration and peer reviewed by over 50 institutions, including most divisions in UN DESA, regional commissions, academia and other entities.

DESA has also collaborated with Resident Coordinators Offices, UN specialized agencies, and Regional Commissions to deliver pilot test the Curriculum’s training toolkits tailored to the specific context of the recipient countries. Only in the year 2021, DESA piloted the toolkits by delivering 36 webinars with a total number of participants of 970 participants from over 100 countries from across the world. 






3. Has your organization published or is it planning to publish any analytical work or guidance note or toolkits to guide and support recovery efforts from COVID-19 while advancing SDG implementation at national, regional and global levels? Please select up to three high-impact resources to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs.  



DESA Policy Brief Series I, II, III 

Publishing entity


Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Target audience

Policy makers at the national, regional and global levels




In an effort to support and complement the United Nations Secretary-General’s initiatives in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and call by the Member States to advance Our Common Agenda, UN DESA experts are working through various policy brief series to help decision makers around the world navigate tough choices and to find ways to recover better from the COVID-19 crisis and prepare for complex and compounded risks in today's interconnected world.  

Series I (April – June 2020): Socioeconomic impact and response to COVID-19

This series presents detailed analysis and solid evidence needed for effective decision-making on a number of critical social and economic issues. It also presents key policy recommendations to support the Secretary-General's initiatives in response to COVID-19 and help the international community to navigate the policy choices ahead. It contains five categories: 1) global macroeconomic outlook, 2) impact on countries, 3) inequality and vulnerable groups, 4) science, technology and governance, and 5) together for effective recovery.

Series II (July 2020-June 2021): Recovering better and supporting the Decade of Action

It features UN DESA’s analysis and policy recommendations with the aim to recover better from the COVID-19 crisis and ensure a better and sustainable recovery to meet the promises of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It contains 29 policy briefs, covering SDG progress and implementation, economic insecurity, rural development, data, governance and digital technology, sustainable financing and investment, inclusive, sustainable and green recovery for all.  

Series III (Fall 2021 – Present): Future of the World

This ongoing series currently contains 18 policy briefs. It aims to provide UN DESA’s foresight analysis to advance our preparedness for future challenges and crises, and to reduce risks and make our systems more resilient. The series is part of the Future of the World initiative launched in the fall of 2021, which will also feature online policy dialogues with the authors of the policy briefs and related experts in connection with the topics of the briefs. 





2021 World Economic Situation and Prospects

Publishing entity

UNDESA, with inputs from UNCTAD and five UN Regional Commissions, as well as contribution from the World Tourism Organization 

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17




A once-in-a-century crisis—a Great Disruption unleashed by a viral pandemic—hit the world economy in 2020. The pandemic spread like a forest fire, reaching every corner of the world, infecting more than 90 million and killing close to 2 million people worldwide. For several months, uncertainties and panic paralysed most economic activities in both developed and developing economies. Trade and tourism came to a grinding halt, while job and output losses exceeded levels seen in any previous crisis. In a matter of months, the number of people living in poverty increased sharply, while income and wealth inequality trended towards new highs. Governments around the world responded rapidly—and boldly—to stem the health and economic contagion of the crisis. Fiscal and monetary stimulus packages were quickly rolled out to save the economy. The crisis responses, however, entailed difficult choices between saving lives and saving livelihoods, between speed of delivery and efficiency, and between short-term costs and long-term impacts. Limited fiscal space and high levels of public debt constrained the ability of many developing countries to roll out sufficiently large stimulus packages. 






Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Report of the Secretary-General 2021 ("SDG Progress Report")

Publishing entity

United Nations (Report of the Secretary-General)

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17


Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish


Mandated by the 2030 Agenda, the annual Sustainable Development Goals Report provides an overview of the world’s implementation efforts to date, highlighting areas of progress and areas where more action needs to be taken to ensure no one is left behind. Using the latest data and estimates, this annual stocktaking report on progress across the 17 Goals outlines some significant impacts in many areas that are already apparent. It shows that it is the poorest and most vulnerable – including children, older persons, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees – who are being hit the hardest by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women are also bearing the heaviest brunt of the pandemic’s effects. Yet, with a surge in global solidarity and leadership from the highest political level, countries can still deliver on the 2030 Agenda and the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  


[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ] 

Additional SG's Reports and other reports informing the HLPF and the High-Level Segment of ECOSOC, which provided analyses on the progress of the implementation of the SDGs and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Report of the regional forums on sustainable development: Note by the Secretariat [ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Report of the regional forum on sustainable development: ECA [ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Report of the regional forum on sustainable development: ECE [ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Report of the regional forum on sustainable development: ECLAC [ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Report of the regional forum on sustainable development: ESCAP [ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Report of the regional forum on sustainable development: ESCWA [ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Compilation of main messages for the 2021 voluntary national reviews: Note by the Secretariat  

Discussion papers on the theme of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, submitted by major groups and other stakeholders: Note by the Secretariat  
[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

2021 Financing for Sustainable Development Report  

[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Progress report on the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns: Note by the Secretary General  
[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development: Report of the Secretary-General  

Long-term future trends and scenarios - impacts in the economic, social and environmental areas on the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals: Report of the Secretary General  

Report of the Economic and Social Council forum on financing for development follow-up  
[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals: Note by the Secretariat  
[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

2021 Development Cooperation Forum High-level Meeting Summary by the President of the Economic and Social Council  
[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

High-Level Dialogue on Energy Stakeholders Thematic E-Consultation Summary Report  

Report of the SDG 16 Conference  

Synthesis of voluntary submissions by functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council and other intergovernmental bodies and forums  
[ العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español ]  

Two publications were issued where impact on COVID has been reflected in VNRs, one is an issue brief on “Impact of COVID-19: perspective from Voluntary National Reviews” and the other one is 2021 VNR Synthesis report which contains a section on “Main measures in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and information on overall impact”.   

Additional resources to highlight

World Public Sector Report 2021
Description: The report takes stock of developments in institutional arrangements for SDG implementation at the national level since 2015. First, it documents changes in institutional arrangements for SDG implementation. Second, it assesses the development, performance, strength and limitations of monitoring and evaluation systems for the SDGs. Third, it examines efforts made by governments and other stakeholders to enhance the capacity of public servants to implement the SDGs. Drawing on an in-depth analysis of 24 countries across regions, inputs from different stakeholders, and relevant literature, the report highlights institutional adjustments to integrate the SDGs into national processes, strengths and opportunities for improving SDG monitoring, follow-up and review systems and capacity building efforts. Finally, the report analyses the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on national institutions and potential consequences for the delivery of the SDGs.  

MOOC on “Strengthening stakeholder engagement for the implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda” 
Partners: UN DESA, UNITAR 
Language: English and French 
Relevant SDGs: All SDGs  
Description: Building on the online training course on “Strengthening stakeholder engagement for the implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda” , UNDESA in collaboration with UNITAR has developed a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on "Strengthening stakeholder engagement for the implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda. A new Module focusing on “Leaving No One Behind” was newly developed. UNITAR has also translated the MOOC into French. The latest session of the MOOC in English and French has attracted 570 participants from 116 countries. Turning the course into a MOOC has increased the reach, attracting over 1500 participants in 2020/2021. 

SDG Good Practices, Success Stories, and Lessons Learned  
Partners: UN DESA and Interagency Analytical Team from 24 entities  
Language: English  
Relvant SDGs: All SDGs  
Description: UN DESA launched a second open call for 'SDG Good Practices, Success Stories, and Lessons Learned' in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs. The second open call was conducted from December 2020 to March 2021 aiming to highlight examples of good practices, including those that could be replicated or scaled up by others across the globe. This initiative builds on the success of the first open call for ‘SDG Good Practices, Success Stories, and Lessons Learned’, which concluded in 2019. A digital publication of the ‘SDG Good Practices: A compilation of success stories and lessons learned in SDG implementation (First Edition)’. During the second open call, more than 740 submissions were received from a broad range of stakeholders. A UN Inter-Agency Analytical team, comprised of representatives from 24 UN entities, reviewed the submissions and approved over 460 SDG Good Practices. The results have been made available through the SDG Good Practice Online Database, which allows users to search through results by SDG, by region, and by entity type. The SDG Good Practices cover all 17 SDGs and range from large-scale international initiatives designed to have an impact on broad cross-sections of society, to small-scale initiatives which focus on a handful of targeted beneficiaries. The outcomes of all the practices demonstrate that we need a multitude of actions and approaches to ensure that no one will be left behind.  

UN Tax Committee publications 
- United Nations Handbook on Carbon Taxation for Developing Countries 
- United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries (2021) (forthcoming) 
-United Nations Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries (2021)
-United Nations Handbook on Selected Issues for Taxation of the Extractive Industries by Developing Countries (2021) 
-United Nations Guidelines on the Tax Treatment of Government-to-Government Aid Projects 

Comprehensive study on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Least Developed Country Category  
Publishing entity: Committee for Development Policy  
Language: English  
Relevant SDGs (select all relevant goals): SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 17  
Target audience: Policymakers in least developed countries and their development partners  
Resource description: Analytical study  

World Youth Report (forthcoming)
Publishing entity: UNDESA  
Language: English 
Relevant SDGs (please list all relevant SDGs) SDG1, SDG3, SDG4, SDG5, SDG8, SDG10, SDG13, SDG16, SDG17
Target audience: General public, policy makers, practitioners   
Description: The upcoming World Youth Report (the DESA's flagship report on youth) on Youth Mental Health and Well-being focuses on the social inclusion and social policy aspects of youth mental health. The report will draw policy implications by examining the main dimensions of young people’s lives impacting their mental health and wellbeing. 

Global Report on Ageism  
Publishing entity/entities WHO, UNDESA, OHCHR, UNFPA  
Language: English, French, Spanish 
Relevant SDGs (please list all relevant SDGs) SDG3, SDG4, SDG5, SDG8, SDG10  
Target audience: General public, policy makers, practitioners  
Description: In the run-up to the eleventh session of the General Assembly open-ended working group for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons, the United Nations launched its first Global Report on Ageism (18 March 2021 - available in English, French and Spanish). The Report is co-branded by the Principals of WHO, DESA, OHCHR and UNFPA and is the first joint product since the adoption of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021–2030.     

Analytical Framework for Stakeholder Engagement Analysis  
Description: DESA collaborated with the UNDP Oslo Governance Center to develop an analytical framework for the analysis of practices of stakeholder engagement in the implementation and follow up of the 2030 Agenda, which was launched in January 2021. Through the “SD2015: Delivering on the promise of the SDGs” project, the framework was translated into Spanish and French. UN DESA and UNDP have been promoting the analytical framework with national governments and stakeholders from different sectors. 

4. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels? Please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established multi-stakeholder partnerships in this regard, please describe them and provide links to relevant websites, if applicable.  

At the global level, DESA supported the engagement of an increasing number of NGOs in the work of the ECOSOC and major groups and other stakeholders in the HLPF in an effort to maximize the impact of their contributions. To provide additional space for key stakeholder sectors to share about their efforts to implement the SDGs, DESA also continued to organize a series of special events with partners in connection with the HLPF and the General Assembly high-level week, including the annual Local and Regional Governments Forum, the annual Chief Sustainability Officers for SDGs event, the annual Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) event, and the annual SDG Business Forum. With close to 19,000 participants and 400 Government representatives, including 60 High-level officials at the ministerial level, the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum provided a dedicated space for candid exchange between youth and policymakers, which shaped the youth input to the 2021 HLPF.   

DESA also supported the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in other sustainable development-related processes, including the General Assembly High Level Dialogue on Energy in September 2021; the Second Global Sustainable Transport Conference in October 2021; and the 6th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum) in May 2021. DESA also supported the Bureau of the Commission for Social Development to initiate a Multi-Stakeholder Forum during the 2021 official session of the Commission to share good practice and practical solutions to promote social development for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on the outline and draft of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report through written and public consultations before it was finalized. 

DESA also continued to support the process for NGOs to obtain consultative status with the Council through the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. Currently, 5,882 NGOs are in consultative status with ECOSOC; 546 new applications have been received for the 2022 cycle. The Department has stepped up the advice and support provided to NGOs on how to best contribute to the work of the UN, helping to enrich debates, increase ownership of UN work, and accelerate action towards realizing the SDGs by 2030. 


Partnership with Resident Coordinator Offices on the Multi-stakeholder Dimension of National Development Planning and SDG Mainstreaming 


11 UN Resident Coordinator Offices (Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Namibia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan) 

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Member States benefiting from the partnership

Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Namibia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan


At the national level, DESA has partnered with 11 UN Resident Coordinator Offices (Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Namibia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan), to support their efforts to strengthen the multi-stakeholder dimension of national development planning and SDG mainstreaming.

Reports were developed in each country to take stock of the current landscape of stakeholder participation in SDG implementation and to provide forward-looking proposals that could be used in development and implementation of the United Nations Cooperation Frameworks, national SDG strategies and VNR processes, depending on the country's needs. The reports are available here.

An international consultant was hired to prepare an analysis of the 11 national reviews, identify common messages and provide recommendations to support the multi-stakeholder dimension of national development planning and SDGs mainstreaming. The draft report was presented to partner RC Offices and DCO colleagues during a webinar (19 October 2021). The final report is available here.  




Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) Alliance 


30 global private sector companies; UNDP, UNCDF, UNCTAD, UN Global Compact, PRI, UNEP FI, Regional Commissions, World Bank, IFC 

Relevant SDGs

All SDGs, particularly SDGs 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 17 

Member States benefiting from the partnership

All, with specific focus on developing countries


The Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) Alliance is a group of 30 of the world’s top business leaders convened by the UN Secretary-General to develop and implement solutions that scale up private finance and investment necessary to achieve the SDGs. GISD’s members have worked with the UN and other partners to deliver standards, tools, and products to unlock long-term investment to advance the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. These include the Sustainable Development Investing definition, the UNDP-GISD SDG Investor Platform, a net-zero climate exchange traded fund (ETF), a set of SDG-related sector-specific metrics, etc. 

In a dedicated response to the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, GISD Alliance members issued a Statement of Action, which outlines a number of actions to confront the tremendous human suffering caused by the pandemic. Moreover, the GISD Alliance’s Call to Action for COVID-19 bond issuance encourages companies and governments to issue innovative social bonds to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It defines the direct and indirect challenges presented by the pandemic and outlines the expectations for a COVID-19 bond issuance in alignment with the SDGs. 





Infrastructure Asset Management 


UNDESA, UNCDF, UNOPS, UNITAR, Columbia University 

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Member States benefiting from the partnership



Capacity development on infrastructure asset management is jointly implemented by UNDESA, UNOPS and UNCDF. DESA advances the objectives of the initiative by helping to sustainably embed effective infrastructure asset management strategies, policies and actions in national sustainable development strategies and by ensuring that lessons learned will feed into the intergovernmental deliberations on financing for sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda. Through its field presence in the target countries of the project and its mandate to work directly with local governments in developing countries, UNCDF provides organizational and substantive support and helps DESA monitor the implementation of Asset Management Action Plans. UNOPS provides technical support in the field through the application of tools to support assessment and capacity building of the infrastructure enabling environment. UNITAR and Columbia University support the initiative through support in the design/implementation and dissemination of online training courses. The project engages a broad range of other stakeholders, including local and central government officials as the beneficiaries, as well as experts from the UN system, multilateral and regional development banks, local government associations, universities and think tanks as peer reviewers of and contributing experts to the design of training material.  





Global Initiative on Developing Capacities of Public Servants for SDG Implementation


Schools of Public Administration, Development Management Institutes, and human resources managers in the public sectors 

Relevant SDGs

SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17


DESA, as the custodian of the UN Programme on Public Administration, coordinates the Global Initiative on Developing Capacities of Public Servants for SDG implementation since 2018. The Global Initiative on Governance for the SDGs engages schools of public administration and regional associations of public administration through a Global Network of Schools of Public Administration. Its aim is to strengthen the capacities of governments and public servants (in terms of knowledge, skills, attitude, leadership competences and mindset) to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Global Initiative has led to the establishment of a Global and Regional Task Forces of Schools of Public Administration, Development Management Institutes, and human resources managers in the public sector. The Regional Task Forces have contributed to the overall design of the Curriculum on Governance for the SDGs. Every year new toolkits will be added depending on the demands and needs of governments and schools of public administration, and in close collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinators system and relevant partners. 



Global Network of Schools of Public Administration: https://unpan.un.org/communities/gtfs 



United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN)  


A global network of international, regional, sub-regional and national institutions and experts worldwide working on governance and effective, inclusive and accountable public institutions for sustainable development in line with SDG 16

Member States benefiting from the partnership

five geographical regions in line with the UN regional commissions, namely Africa, Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia and the Middle East

Relevant SDGs

SDG 16 


The United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN) was established in 1999 in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 50/225 of 1 May 1996. It is a global network of international, regional, sub-regional and national institutions and experts worldwide working on governance and effective, inclusive and accountable public institutions for sustainable development in line with SDG 16, the only network of its type in the world today.  

DESA has been organizing regional symposiums and learning conferences to discuss how public institutions should transform to meet the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and to raise awareness and enhance knowledge of national public administrations about the need to promote the culture of innovation and use of ICTs for improved delivery of public services for the achievement of SDGs. In this, particular attention was given to the role of the public administration human resource managers in adapting to uncertain times, such as the COVID19 pandemic.  

In 2021, in cooperation with the above-listed partners, DESA organized the 7th Annual APS-HRMnet Conference; the workshop on Leadership, and Public Service for National Development; the international workshop on Public Administration Reforms for Achieving the SDGs: Imperatives and Lessons from the Covid-19; a virtual capacity development workshop for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa named “Public service innovation and e-government for SDGs in Africa”; and a webinar on “Citizens Participation in the context of implementation of the 2030 Agenda” 




5. Following the adoption of the 2019 SDG Summit declaration (GA resolution 74/4), where Member States outlined ten priority areas for accelerated action in SDG implementation, please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted in the following areas:  

5.1 leaving no one behind; 

Promoting economic security and expanded social protection  

While the pandemic and other global trends are increasing people’s exposure to economic shocks, their ability to cope and recover has not improved accordingly. Economic insecurity disproportionately affects people in or near poverty, members of ethnic or racial minorities, women, migrants and youth, and it is likely to push members of these groups further behind. To address these concerns, UN DESA convened a series of online dialogues with experts and issued policy briefs on an evolving and pressing challenge in the context of the pandemic economic insecurity. UN DESA’s analysis demonstrated how often public institutions, services and social protection systems struggle. The COVID-19 pandemic has had its greatest impact on those already furthest behind. It has highlighted the need for social, economic and financing policies and governance strategies that promote equity and inclusion. UN DESA’s work in 2020-2021 sought to provide governments the support they needed to shape an inclusive recovery from the pandemic and get themselves on track to realize the goals of the 2030 Agenda, for all. to adapt to rapidly changing needs. However, policy innovations in both developed and developing countries, that have come about as a response to the pandemic, demonstrate the capacity of social protection systems to adapt to changing circumstances. Since their release, the policy briefs have had notable reach, receiving 14,579 combined downloads through 31 August 2021. 

Building national capacity for disability inclusion  

UN DESA conducted a series of virtual and face-to face workshops aimed at building national capacity to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In Central Asia, UN DESA supported governments to design national policies for implementing the Convention, including through establishing accessibility standards. In particular, the Department supported Kyrgyzstan’s Accessible Country Programme and Tajikstan’s national action plan in support of implementation of the Convention. In Latin America, UN DESA supported inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market by designing special training programme and reviewing national legislation. In Ecuador, the Department supported preparation of two good practices guidelines, one on inclusive education for youth with disabilities aimed especially at educators in higher education, and the other aimed at employers, to support labour inclusion for youth with disabilities. 43 workshops will be implemented across different provinces in the country. UN DESA further supported the Peruvian Government to prepare training modules for municipal, regional, and local officials, representatives of NGOs and youth disability organizations in Arequipa, Trujillo, Ica and Huancayo. The modules are centred on successfully reaching the labour market, raising awareness in the work environment for disability inclusion, and contextualizing the legal framework for reasonable accommodation at work. Two workshops were conducted in June 2021 to launch the online platform, serving more than 300 participants. More than 9,300 visitors have accessed the modules since launched. UN DESA also took the lead in establishing an online knowledge sharing platform for advancement of disability inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery. 

Addressing ageing, ageism and the rights of older persons  

The world’s population is growing older, with women comprising the majority of older persons. In 2021, one out of ten people or about 752 million persons were aged 65 years or over worldwide. That number is projected to more than double by 2050, reaching over 1.5 billion persons, or one in six globally. In 2020, UN DESA’s World Population Ageing Highlights continued its strong tradition of highlighting the trajectory of population ageing based on projections of the World Population Prospects and outlining the potential impacts on development policy and practice. The report provides a meaningful reference for policymaking on ageing and older persons. The 2020 report placed strong focus on the role of age in the COVID-19 pandemic. Older persons are at much higher risk of dying from the disease than any other age group. It also highlighted how older persons’ living arrangements impact their chances of getting infected with -and dying from- COVID-19. The Department also contributed to the first Global Report on Ageism, released in partnership with the World Health Organisation, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and the United Nations Population Fund. Directed at policymakers, practitioners, researchers, development agencies and members of the private sector and civil society, the report defines the nature of ageism, presents evidence on the scale and impacts of ageism, and provides recommendations for action to address ageism and ensure a world for all ages. 

Promoting the rights of indigenous peoples  

UN DESA’s State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Volume V offers a wide- ranging perspective on indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories, and resources through analysis of legislation and agreements at the national and international level, and through customary law. It examines successful practices and continuing obstacles to realizing indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and territories and suggests ways forward. Indigenous peoples’ relationship to their lands, territories and resources are at the heart of their identity, well-being, and culture. Preservation of the environment transmitted through traditional knowledge passed down through generations is at the centre of their existence. The report continues to inform discussions in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues and serves as an important reference for policy makers and civil society for effectively supporting inclusion of indigenous peoples and the upholding of their collective rights. 

Bringing the voices of youth to the table  

At the 10th ECOSOC Youth Forum in 2021 (7-8 April 2021), youth leaders from around the world had the opportunity to engage with government representatives, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in civil society and the private sector to discuss bold solutions and initiatives for steering a resilient recovery from COVID-19 and setting the world back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In its virtual format, the Forum attracted more than 19,000 participants, an exponential increase over the 1000 who participated in 2019. Co-organized by UN DESA and the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), in collaboration with the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD), the Youth Forum also provided a platform for young people to express their concerns about how the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and weak and biased social and economic systems across the globe. They highlighted how young people have been adversely affected by the growing uncertainty, lack of decent work, educational turmoil and increasing digital inequalities. They called for ensuring their meaningful participation in decision making at all levels, reducing discrimination and promoting the rule of law. Their concerns and recommendations were heard and discussed by the more than 400 government representatives present, including 61 high-level officials at the ministerial level and 25 senior officials from Youth Ministries and National Youth Councils.  

Implementing the UN Legal Identity Agenda  

In 2020 the United Nations adopted the UN Legal Identity Agenda – a holistic approach to civil registration, vital statistics and identity management – as a recommended model for ensuring universal registration of all vital events, translated in regular, comprehensive and accurate vital statistics and legal identity for all. As a co-chair of the UN Legal Identity Agenda Task Force, UN DESA helped drive development of a system that encompasses different government infrastructure components and establishes interoperability between: • health institutions delivering their responsibilities of informing on the occurrence of births and deaths; • national civil registration systems responsible for issuing legal tenders; • national statistical systems in charge of producing reliable and regular vital and population statistics; • the population registers that serve as a constantly updated list of people in the country; and • the national identification system responsible for issuing legal identity credentials throughout the lifetime of an individual.  

Addressing adolescent fertility to support inclusion of young women and girls 

 Levels and trends of adolescent fertility depend on the opportunities and constraints that young women and girls face in different contexts. Staying in school longer and having access to reproductive health-care services and information helps to keep adolescent fertility low. In 2020, UN DESA published a prepandemic global report on childbearing among adolescents which showed that while adolescent fertility in many countries had fallen significantly since 1990-1995, there are disparities across and within countries and between population groups. Low levels of adolescent fertility were prevalent in countries that had adopted pragmatic policies and strategies to avoid teenage pregnancy and parenthood, including the promotion of sex education and contraceptive use through mass media and schools. 

Supporting coordinated action on poverty eradication  

The inter-agency system-wide plan of action for the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027) continues to guide coordinated UN-system action on poverty eradication. The Department reviewed the progress made, including by the United Nations system, in implementing the Decade, examined gaps and challenges and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The review assesses the derailing effect of the pandemic on the implementation of the Third Decade and highlights the increasing social inequality brought on by the current crisis. It shows how the United Nations has mobilized to save lives and promote better recovery in the face of the pandemic, including through technical assistance to Member States and policy advice. The recommendations stemming from the review, encourage strengthened multilateralism, partnerships, and coordination among multiple stakeholders to move forward the types of future-focused policies necessary to build resilience within individuals and communities and accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Addressing detrimental rural-urban divide  

Rural areas are home to 80 per cent of the world’s extreme poor, have fewer education, health, and other public services, and are witnessing severe degradation of natural resources. Rural populations are also more likely to face human rights abuses, gender inequality, poor working conditions, and the violation of indigenous land rights. UN DESA’s World Social Report 2021 urges all to seize the opportunities presented by new technologies to finally end the rural-urban divide. The Report argues for moving the task of rural development to the centre of attention and adopting an approach that raises the average living standard of rural people to that of urban people, without migration, and that also avoids urban slums and squalor. With the revamp of the World Social Report in 2019, the report has continued to grow its reach. Downloads in 2020 reached 10,952, some 19% more than 2019 and 34% more than 2018. 

Addressing access to water and sanitation  

UN DESA is supporting UN Member States to implement the International Decade for Action, Water for Sustainable Development, 2018–2028. The Water Action Decade aims to accelerate efforts towards meeting water-related challenges. In March 2021, UN DESA supported the Highlevel Meeting on Implementation of the Water-related Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda convened by the ©UNICEF/UNI317699/ President of the General Assembly. 161 countries signed a cross regional statement on water, which highlights actions in support of promoting, protecting, and fulfilling the human rights to water and sanitation. In follow-up to the 2020 launch of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, UN DESA and UN-Water cochaired a special event on Goal 6 at the High-level Political Forum 2021, to review the progress in implementation. The event launched the SDG 6 Capacity Development Initiative, which is co-coordinated by UN DESA and UNESCO and is tailored to national capacity development needs and undertaken in collaboration with the UN system and other development partners at various levels of operation. 

Supporting the poorest and most vulnerable countries in responding to the crisis and getting on track for the SDGs  

UN DESA supported the organization of the special meeting of the ECOSOC President on SIDS and LDCs, in cooperation with OHRLLS. The special meeting contributed to the 18 June meeting of the Presidents of the General Assembly and ECOSOC, aimed at providing an input to the upcoming LDC5 Conference. Those meetings resulted in important messages on the continuing support to countries in special situations, paving the ground for an ambitious outcome at LDC5 and the continuing work to address the multidimensional vulnerability of SIDS. Building country capacity for monitoring implementation of the 2030 agenda: Namibia and Cabo Verde UN DESA provided capacity building support to national VNR processes at the request of Cabo Verde and Namibia. In Cabo Verde, UN DESA collaborated with the Resident Coordinator’s Office to organize a capacity-building workshop focusing on the process, good practices and tools to support the engagement of stakeholders in the VNR process and on how to feature the information in the report to be presented at the HLPF. In Namibia, UN DESA worked with the Resident Coordinator’s Officer and the National SDG Multi-Stakeholder Committee for handling the SDGs Agenda to support preparation of the country’s second VNR. Before the report was produced, UN DESA participated in the discussions on improving the report, through sharing best practices and lessons learned.  


5.2 mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing; 

Providing policy advice leadership on financing for sustainable development  

UN DESA led the preparation and analytical work for the 2021 Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR), the main substantive input to the ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum, and product of the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development. Launched in March, the 2021 FSDR highlighted the risk of a sharply diverging world in the near term where the gaps between rich and poor widen because some countries lack the necessary financial resources to combat the COVID-19 crisis and its socioeconomic impact. Short-term risks are compounded by growing systemic risks that threaten to further derail progress, such as climate change. 

The report recommended immediate actions to prevent this scenario and put forward solutions to mobilize investments in people and in infrastructure to rebuild better. It also laid out reforms for the global financial and policy architecture to ensure that it is supportive of a sustainable and resilient recovery and aligned with the 2030 Agenda. The messages of the FSDR were amplified by targeted policy briefs on risk-informed finance, corporate sustainability reporting and blended finance.  

Addressing Debt and Liquidity Risks  

UN DESA supported Member States in developing policy solutions to address debt and liquidity in the followup process to the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, convened in May 2020 by the Secretary-General and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica. The Department supported the work of discussion groups led by Member States and including various international institutions, which culminated in a menu of proposed policy options and recommendations, including on the need for debt relief beyond the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and for a new SDR allocation and mechanisms to channel SDRs to countries in need. These options were considered by Finance Ministers convened by the Deputy Secretary General and the Finance Ministers of Canada and Jamaica and, subsequently, by Heads of State and Government at a special meeting on the margins of the 75th United Nations General Assembly in September 2020. As a follow-up to these discussions, UN DESA is leading two of six clusters set up to advance the menu of policy options - liquidity and debt vulnerability and addressing special country needs. The cluster on liquidity and debt vulnerability contributed to the Secretary-General’s brief, Liquidity and Debt Solutions to Invest in the SDGs: The Time to Act is Now, and supported the meeting of Heads of State and Government on International Debt Architecture and Liquidity in March 2021. 

Maximizing the value and sustainability of public infrastructure investments  

Investments in public infrastructure assets – from bridges and watersheds to hospitals and garbage collection vehicles – play a key role in the SDGs, stemming the tides of the COVID-19 pandemic and confronting the climate, humanitarian, and other crises. Yet, efforts to close infrastructure investment gaps rarely factor in the financial costs, human skills and material resources needed to manage a wide portfolio of critical infrastructure assets over their entire life cycles. In the last five years, UN DESA has sought to change this prevailing approach. A pilot project to introduce and implement sustainable, forward-looking infrastructure asset management in municipalities across Bangladesh, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda yielded a still-growing body of knowledge and tools, now outlined in the UN DESA-UNCDF publication Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development: A Handbook for Local and National Governments. Released in February 2021, the Handbook is available in Spanish, French, and Swahili, with more translations to come. With practical and accessible text and engaging infographics, the Handbook calls to action national and local governments in nurturing infrastructure assets and the key public services they enable to be reliable, crisis-resilient, and climate-smart. UN DESA also partnered with UNITAR and Columbia University to create a Massive Open Online Course that transforms asset management principles and tools described in the Handbook into a virtual and visual learning experience. The self-paced course features interviews and testimonies from primary sources, including an asset manager from Malaysia’s Department of Irrigation and Drainage, a public financial management expert from Nepal, a town clerk in Uganda and many more. Learners receive in-depth instruction in an engaging setting. 

Curbing illicit financial flows  

UN DESA supported Member States to advance a concrete menu of options to combat illicit financial flows in the context of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department coordinated a multi-stakeholder discussion group on illicit financial flows, co-chaired by the Ambassadors of Barbados and Nigeria, as part of the Initiative on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond. The menu of options was considered at a meeting of Heads of State and Government and fed into analytical work conducted by the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development. 

The Department also hosted the Independent Secretariat of the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel). The FACTI Panel’s independent Secretariat successfully supported the Panel in its work and the widespread dissemination of its recommendations, despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, organising effective consultation and supporting production of high-quality analysis. Through its analysis the Panel has successfully advanced the global conversation on illicit financial flows and financial integrity issues. 

Advancing international tax cooperation in times of crisis  

UN DESA supported the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to deliver fully on its ambitious work programme and conclude its work at its 22nd Session in April 2021. COVID-19 has disrupted economies and consumption patterns, favouring digital business models over their bricks-and-mortar competitors. The 2021 UN Model Double Taxation Convention included a new Article 12B that gives source (often developing) countries the treaty right to tax payments in their countries from automated digital services, where supported by domestic law. The pandemic has also displaced workers, through lockdowns and travel restrictions, and the UN Model has been amended to clarify when a home office in another state would constitute a “permanent establishment” - providing taxpayers with tax certainty, at a time when home offices have become more usual, often involuntarily. UN DESA also supported preparation of the 2021 United Nations Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries, addressing transfer pricing challenges related to cross-border inter-company transactions. This helps avoid profit shifting from high-tax to low-tax jurisdictions – despite the pandemic-related market disruptions that make comparison with market prices difficult. The Department’s Virtual Workshop on Practical and Policy Aspects of Taxation in a Digitalized Economy brought together over 160 participants for learning with top-tier experts on innovative issues in international tax. 

The Virtual Workshop on Carbon Taxation engaged over 110 governments officials from more than 30 developing countries to learn about practical options to design and administer a carbon tax, at a time when many countries look for climate-smart solutions to finance the COVID-19 response and recovery.  

Two virtual webinars on the COVID-19 Impact on Transfer Pricing and on the Transfer Pricing Aspects of Financial Transactions addressed the difficulty of comparability data during a pandemic and on how to deal with intragroup loans and guarantees. The webinars again brought developing country practitioners together with peers and renowned experts from the UN, OECD, academia, and private sector for a highly interactive learning event. Videos of the webinars are accessible online as training materials. UN DESA also continued to provide technical guidance on tax cooperation with the IMF, OECD and the World Bank, including through the Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT). In February and March 2021, the PCT held two virtual workshops with over 700 participants to launch two toolkits on tax treaty negotiation and transfer pricing documentation. 

Supporting Member States to implement integrated national financing frameworks  

UN DESA continued to lead the UN’s work to develop a global methodology on integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs) to help countries find solutions to close financing gaps and incorporate financing into planning processes. In April 2021, in the margins of the ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum, UN DESA launched a dedicated website on INFF. The website contains published guidance notes on the INFF inception phase, assessment and diagnostics, financing strategy, governance and coordination, and monitoring and review building blocks. The Department, in collaboration with the Regional Economic Commissions, is also supporting INFF development in 10 countries (Belarus, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Zambia). INFFs lay out the full range of financing sources – domestic public resources, aid and development cooperation, and domestic and international private finance – and allows countries to develop a strategy to increase investment, manage risks, and achieve sustainable development priorities, as identified in a country’s national sustainable development strategy. 

Mobilizing finance and private sector investment for sustainable development  

UN DESA continued its coordination of the work of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD), an Alliance of 30 global business leaders from the financial and non-financial sectors who collectively manage assets worth US$16 trillion. Among the achievements of the GISD Alliance’s first year was the report Renewed, Recharged, and Reinforced: Urgent actions to harmonize and scale sustainable finance, which was submitted as an input to the European Commission’s consultation on its Renewed Sustainable Financing Strategy. The report made more than 60 recommendations for global action to scale-up investment in sustainable development to help advance the SDGs. The Alliance also developed a unified definition of Sustainable Development Investing (SDI) and released the first of its kind Call to Action for COVID-19 bonds, which was endorsed by the International Capital Markets Association. 

Sustainable Development Goals Investment Fair  

The 2021 SDG Investment Fair focused on how to build forward from COVID-19 by scaling up long-term investment for sustainable development. Convened by UN DESA, the Fair brought together ministers and senior government officials, the private sector, including CEO Members of the GISD Alliance, representatives from development finance institutions, multilateral institutions, academia and think tanks to discuss concrete actions on how to address the decline in foreign direct investment during the pandemic and the continuous need to mobilize additional investments for the implementation of the SDGs. Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs pointed out the need to shift incentives towards the long term for all actors across the investment chain. In addition, participants discussed the need for sector-specific SDG-related metrics to strengthen the reporting on the sustainability impact of companies and to strengthen the alignment of private investment with sustainable development. 

5.3 enhancing national implementation; 

Enhancing national capacity in COVID-19 response and SDG implementation  

UN DESA has taken proactive steps to enhance national capacities of Member States in response to the outbreak and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Capacity development activities have targeted a number of areas, including strengthening the integration of the 2030 Agenda in national development plans, enhanced national capacities for unleashing the full potential of micro-, small- and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in achieving the SDGs in developing countries, and strengthening the capacities of local and regional governments to conduct voluntary local reviews (VLRs) in order to accelerate the localization of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. UN DESA connects national implementation efforts, working closely with Resident Coordinator’s Offices and UNCTs, with global good practices on SDG integration and localization. UN DESA has also been actively promoting the transfer of appropriate technologies such as the Juncao technology to benefit smallholder farmers in developing countries. Through South-South cooperation, the Juncao project, which is funded by the UN Peace and Development Fund, has enhanced knowledge and strengthened national capacities of developing countries to improve their policies and programmes promoting sustainable agriculture.  

Supporting Member States to implement integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs)  

UN DESA continued to lead the UN’s work to develop a global methodology on integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs) to help countries find solutions to close financing gaps and incorporate financing into planning processes. In April 2021, in the margins of the ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum, UN DESA launched a dedicated website on INFF. The website contains published guidance notes on the INFF inception phase, assessment and diagnostics, financing strategy, governance and coordination, and monitoring and review building blocks. The Department, in collaboration with the Regional Economic Commissions, is also supporting INFF development in 10 countries (Belarus, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Zambia). INFFs lay out the full range of financing sources – domestic public resources, aid and development cooperation, and domestic and international private finance – and allows countries to develop a strategy to increase investment, manage risks, and achieve sustainable development priorities, as identified in a country’s national sustainable development strategy.  

Improving national capacities for managing social protection systems  

The UN DESA/ILO project, Achieving SDGs and Ending Poverty Through Universal Social Protection, continued its support to the governments of Cambodia and Pakistan to improve national capacities for developing and implementing inclusive social protection measures and schemes. The project, which started in January 2019, ran through June 2021. The project provided technical support at country level to strengthen the capacity of public institutions and practitioners in areas identified as critical for social security governance in each context, including better coordination, improved data management, and better enforcement of social security laws. UN DESA prepared comparative research on governance of social protection systems to provide better technical information for policymaking and undertook related incountry studies, that helped to inform incountry efforts. Hundreds of civil servants and other stakeholders were trained in governance, administration, and management of social protection systems. ICT support was provided and databases for enhanced data collection, analysis and service provision were created. The project also supported increased visibility and coverage of programmes, while building a broader advocacy base for universal social protection. In Pakistan, more than 550,000 workers were registered during a coverage campaign, with two provinces moving towards universal coverage. 

Strengthening national statistical capacities  

Starting in 2016, UN DESA led a 10 million USD capacity development programme on statistics and data with the 10 implementing UN Secretariat entities of the UN Development Account. Several hundred activities were executed covering more than 130 countries, including 37 Least Developed Countries. The programme’s success saw it extended until April 2021, beyond its original 2019 end date, with an additional 1.4 million USD in funding. The achievements included advancing gender statistics globally, improving poverty measurement in Latin America, providing e-learning on environment statistics in Africa, building skills for trade statistics in the Caribbean, modernizing the statistical system of Benin, and updating the Statistics Act of the Seychelles and the Kyrgyz Republic. 

With the changing age structure of societies as a key factor in determining the success of social and economic policy in the coming decades, UN DESA provided technical training in the collection of population data through census and surveys and population forecasting. The Department provided technical training to Georgia and Viet Nam in methodology and software for use in their national, regional, and municipal population projections. In the face of the limitations for in-person workshops, the Department developed a new approach of on-going remote, advisory support spanning several months, allowing for longer and more in-depth support as methods were applied.  

Improving access to geospatial knowledge and skills  

UN DESA made significant progress in improving and strengthening of nationally integrated geospatial information management in six target countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Fiji, Mongolia, Nepal and Tonga). With the help of UN DESA, these countries have developed a practical basis to implement the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework, the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework and other key guiding frameworks to better share and integrate official statistics and geospatial information, with other forms of national data and across national governments. UN DESA, with the Government of China, established the UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Centre in Deqing, China. The centre will provide opportunities to build and expand global geospatial capacity, competence and capability and strengthen geospatial information management arrangements in countries, especially developing countries. Similarly, UN DESA and the government of Germany have agreed to establish the UN Global Geodetic Centre of Excellence in Bonn, Germany. The establishment of the Centre responds to a call by the UN General Assembly to engage in multilateral cooperation that addresses infrastructure gaps and duplications towards the development of a more sustainable Global Geodetic Reference Frame that leaves no-one behind. Geodesy plays a fundamental role in people’s lives and is a foundation for evidence-based policies decisions, and program delivery. 

Building resilient and sustainable national data and information systems   

On World Statistics Day 2020, UN DESA launched the Global Network of Data Officers and Statisticians, a new global professional network for data officers, statisticians, geospatial and other data experts. The Global Network and its webinar series aim to support governments to build resilient and sustainable national data and information systems for the full implementation of the SDGs and for other decision making. The Network serves to improve coordination and collaboration among peers and organizations, to connect existing but not necessarily well-connected networks and initiatives, and to provide and share information on capacity-building efforts globally. The Global Network has a broad and growing participation of 1,600 colleagues from National Statistical Systems, the UN System, NGOs, and Academia.   

Accelerating digital transformation  

UN DESA organized a capacity building webinar on Developing Institutional Capacities in Digital Transformation for a More Inclusive and Equitable Recovery in December 2020. One of the webinar’s key messages is that the global community can best support the digital transformation of developing countries by forging effective partnerships. During the webinar, country lessons were shared in addressing emerging requirements and challenges for policy and decisionmaking in the age of digital transformation. Overall, more than 300 Member States representatives and other stakeholders benefitted from the webinar, helping to develop country capacity to participate in, and benefit from, the growing opportunities of digitalization while mitigating the risks. The webinar, Accelerating Digital Transformation for Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19, further provided a platform for sharing different country experiences on effective digital government strategies and supporting countries’ efforts in strengthening digital capacities for accelerating the digital transformation to address recovery from COVID-19. The Webinar was pre-registered by a total of 425 participants, from 120 countries. Among them 168 participants were from Africa, and 106 from Asia. The actual number of viewers of the videoconferencing tools is much higher than this number. The number of views of the Facebook livestream video exceeded 3,800. 

Promoting integrated approaches to sustainable development: Climate, Land, Energy and Water Systems  

UN DESA is collaborating with UNDP to deliver a capacity development programme to support the adoption of integrated approaches to policy formulation for sustainable development by countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including countries in special situations. In 2020-2021, Bhutan, Mongolia and Nepal participated in the programme and began use of the Climate, Land, Energy and Water Systems (CLEWS) tool in support of policy coherence in these areas. The inherent flexibility of CLEWS, as a quantitative modeling tool, facilitates adaption and tailoring of the analysis to the unique situation, priorities and circumstances of each country.  

Assisting Member States to review UNDS support to realizing the SDGs  

UN DESA provided the analysis, data, and evidence needed to help Member States review progress in the implementation of the 2016 General Assembly Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN system operational activities (QCPR) and on the repositioning of the UN development system (UNDS). As part of the process, UN DESA surveyed Governments in over 110 countries where UN country teams are supporting national development actions. The Department’s analysis was presented in the report of the Secretary-General that helped inform the QCPR and the discussions at ECOSOC’s Operational Activities Segment, supporting Member States to form effective guidance for improving UN-system support to implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda over the next four years.  


5.4 strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions; 

SDG 16 Conference  

The SDG 16 Conference, held on 28- 30 April 2021, focused on SDG 16 as a key part of the roadmap to respond to COVID-19 and build back better. It gave the positive message that institutional and policy innovations at all levels can accelerate the implementation of SDG 16 and promote integrated approaches to tackle complex challenges. Aware of governance challenges posed by the pandemic, experts underscored the importance of strengthening institutional capacity for a sustainable recovery that supports SDG 16 and the 2030 Agenda. Institutional and policy innovations at all levels can accelerate the implementation of SDG 16 and promote integrated approaches to tackle complex challenges including conflict, increasing inequalities, gender inequality, social and economic insecurity, climate change and rapid technological disruption.  

UN/INTOSAI Symposium  

The 25th UN-INTOSAI Symposium on Working during and after the pandemic: Building on the experience of supreme audit institutions for strengthening effective institutions and achieving sustainable societies was held virtually from 28 to 30 June 2021. The meeting discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the operations, working methods and oversight work of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). UN DESA and partners brought together about 500 participants from 120 countries, including representatives from SAIs, the United Nations and other international organizations and resource experts. The discussions were organized around four sub-themes: (i) the impact of COVID-19 on the organization, working methods and processes of SAIs; (ii) experiences and good practices in the external oversight of COVID-19 responses and recovery plans; (iii) innovation in enhancing transparency and accountability on COVID-19 responses, and (iv) resilient accountability systems and institutions in the aftermath of COVID-19. Discussions underscored the dynamism and flexibility of SAIs in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, both internally and externally and in very different contexts. 

Promoting integrated digital government  

Through a development account project, UN DESA is working with two landlocked LDCs (Bhutan and Lao PDR) and two Pacific SIDS (Fiji and Vanuatu) on institutional arrangements for policy integration, coordination and stakeholder engagement in SDG implementation and reviews in Asia and the Pacific. The focus is to support the transition from analog silos in public administration towards innovation and integrated digital government for public service delivery. In Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), UN DESA is supporting an incremental digital approach to support One-Door-Service Centers (ODSCs). In Fiji, UN DESA supported implementation of their Sustainable Development Coordinating Committee to count on digital improvements to highlight inter-Ministerial dialogue and workflows. 

Institutional arrangements in support of integrated approaches to global climate, land, energy and water strategies  

UN DESA is helping Member States to establish effective institutional arrangements that promote coordination and cooperation among national stakeholders for formulating coherent sustainable development policy and strategy. In 2020-2021, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Namibia received assistance to strengthen national mechanisms to adopt integrated approaches to policy formulation with specific focus on the areas of food, energy and water security and their vulnerability to climate change. The capacity development programme combines support for institutional integration with quantitative assessments using the CLEWS tool. 


5.5 bolstering local action; 

UN DESA, as the secretariat of many intergovernmental processes related to sustainable development including the annual high-level political forum (HLPF), as well several conferences convened by the General Assembly and the Secretary-General including on energy, ocean, water and sustainable transport, has been rallying local governments around these processes, including by seeking their substantive inputs and concrete commitments to SDG implementation and organizing dedicated sessions and events for local governments to share their experiences and lessons learned on SDG implementation.  

Every year, UN DESA co-organizes with UNDP, UN-Habitat, Local 2030 and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments (GTF), the Local and Regional Governments Forum on the 2030 Agenda as one of the Special Events on the margins of the High-level Political Forum. The Local and Regional Governments Forum brings together local, regional, and national governments to discuss how decentralized cooperation among local and regional governments and their associations and networks, national authorities and the international community can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. 

UN DESA has also been providing capacity building support and awareness raising on the Voluntary Local Reviews, for example by organizing in partnership with RCOs/UNCTs capacity development workshops for local and regional governments, global peer learning workshops and partnering with the Regional Commissions on bringing together national governments preparing their Voluntary National Reviews with their local government counterparts doing their Voluntary Local Reviews. 

In response to the expressed requests by member states received through these key activities, UN DESA has developed a training toolkit on “Effective National to Local Public Governance for SDG Implementation” to increase the knowledge, skills and overall capacity of national to local governments and strengthen institutional coordination for the SDGs.  The primary objective of the training is to strengthen public institutions to facilitate more coherent implementation of SDGs, while supporting greater integrated public governance, including through planning, policymaking and finance practices, between national and local authorities. Website: https://unpan.un.org/node/582  


5.6 reducing disaster risk and building resilience; 

Toolkit on “Risk-informed Governance and Innovative Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience”  

In response to the expressed requests by member states received through key capacity development activities, UN DESA developed a training toolkit on “Risk-informed Governance and Innovative Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience”. The training toolkit seeks to build national capacities to spearhead innovations and utilize Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) and key frontier technologies in government in order to drive DRR and build resilience. Website: https://unpan.un.org/node/588   

New UN-led knowledge platform on risk-informed and resilient infrastructure asset management  

UN DESA has leveraged its partnerships with UNCDF and UNOPS in the context of its capacity development support on sustainable infrastructure asset management. Over 2020- 2021, the three agencies collaborated on the finalization and launch of the UN Handbook on infrastructure asset management. The preparations of the Handbook convened numerous experts and practitioners from around the world and helped establish a new UN-led knowledge platform on risk-informed and resilient infrastructure asset management. The platform brings together central and local government infrastructure experts from local governments, the UN system, as well as experts from the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Institute for Asset Management, the Overseas Development Institute, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and CitiesAlliance. 


5.7 solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership; 

Fostering global consensus to finance a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive recovery  

2021 ECOSOC FfD Forum and its outcome UN DESA provided analytical and advisory support to Member States discussions at the 2021 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum. The Forum broke new ground in the area of Financing for Development and was unprecedented in its reach and level of engagement. The Special Segment on Financing the COVID-19 recovery of the Forum, convened by the President of ECOSOC in consultation with the President of the General Assembly, garnered significant interest at the highest political level. The Forum engaged Heads of State and Government as well as a Ministers and Vice-Ministers from over 50 countries. Unprecedented online interaction saw over 25,000 engagements being registered on social media in relation to the Forum, leading to a potential reach of around 4 billion users. During the Forum, countries called for urgent global action to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had devastating effects on the lives and livelihoods of millions across the world. The outcome document of the 2021 FfD Forum, agreed by consensus, represents a significant milestone for Financing for Development. It is the most ambitious since the Forum’s inception, reinforcing the commitment of the international community to jointly tackle the COVID-19 crisis and commit to bold new actions that can set the world on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

 Advocating for special attention to the most vulnerable countries in the G20’s response and recovery  

Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin supported the Secretary-General’s engagement at the Group of 20 (G20) as the UN G20 Sherpa. UN DESA convened the UN G20 Working Group with a view to bringing a strategic and coherent approach to policy deliberations. UN DESA worked closely with the G20 Presidencies (Saudi Arabia and Italy) and consistently brought to the G20’s attention the Secretary-General's call of: i) Redoubling efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19; ii) Mobilizing resources for the COVID-19 response and recovery; iii) Achieving a sustainable, resilient and inclusive future beyond COVID-19; and iv) Tackling climate change to achieve a carbonneutral and sustainable world. These continuous and effective engagements have helped raise awareness among G20 members of the importance of stronger reference to multilateral action, the 75th anniversary of the UN as well as the 2030 Agenda, which were reflected in the 2020 G20 Leaders Declaration. The Riyadh G20 Summit took place virtually from 20-21 November 2020. In the Summit communique, G20 countries pledged to take all necessary measures to fight back the pandemic, making concrete commitments in health and socioeconomic response, including scaling up its support for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) initiative and COVAX. The declaration also presents avenues towards a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery for all. 

Reimagining equality  

In February 2021, the Economic and Social Council put a spotlight on structural racism through its special meeting, Reimagining Equality: Eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all in the Decade of Action for the SDGs. UN DESA, in collaboration with OHCHR, led the substantive preparations of the meeting. The meeting underscored the need for an ambitious whole-of-society approach with greater urgency to dismantle biases and systems that perpetuate racism and inequalities. Through a Presidential Statement, the meeting called for inclusion, justice and dignity for all. Promoting vaccine equity Vaccine equity was at the top of the Economic and Social Council’s agenda in April 2021. The Special Meeting of the Council on A Vaccine for All revealed deep concerns about vaccine nationalism and restrictions on exports, intellectual property rights, lack of resources and capacities. UN DESA mobilized high-level Member State and UN system participation, and convened key stakeholders to address various dimensions of vaccine equity. A clear message from the meeting was that the response to the pandemic provides an opportunity to strengthen health systems and advance towards universal health coverage to help countries be better prepared and become more resilient against future pandemics. 


5.8 harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development; 

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the centrality of digital solutions in addressing isolation, ensuring basic business continuity, delivering services, and keeping people informed. At the same time, digital transformation presents risks and challenges, especially for countries in special situations. UN DESA continued to provide forward looking policy advice and support global dialogue for addressing the challenges and leveraging opportunities. 

Amplifying digital cooperation and bridging the digital divide  

6,000 participants connecting from 173 countries took part in the 15th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), supported by UN DESA. Under the overarching theme of Internet for human resilience and solidarity, the IGF 2020 featured engaged discussions about Internet policies, amplifying digital cooperation and shaping the Internet into a driver for respecting human rights, bridging the digital divide and achieving the SDGs. A high-level leaders’ track involved global experts and leaders from all disciplines in discussions on the role of the Internet in health, economy, security, social development, The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the centrality of digital solutions in addressing isolation, ensuring basic business continuity, delivering services, and keeping people informed. At the same time, digital transformation presents risks and challenges, especially for countries in special situations. UN DESA continued to provide forward looking policy advice and support global dialogue for addressing the challenges and leveraging opportunities. and environment. A Youth Summit brought together young Internet leaders from different parts of the world. Parliamentarians from around the world also gathered at a roundtable to discuss trust online during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the grassroots level, a network of national, regional and youth IGF initiatives collected more than 100 contributions on the transformative potential of the Internet in emergency situations. UN DESA continued to administer the IGF Secretariat and work with members of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) of the IGF, to implement the measures of the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and enhance the Internet Governance Forum. 

UN DESA also supported the annual World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, which provides a multi-stakeholder platform to foster global cooperation and provide meaningful connections to information society by ensuring Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a key enabler for sustainable development. The final week of the WSIS Forum was held in May 2021 with pre-events held from January onwards under the theme of ICTs for Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable Societies and Economies. The Forum focused on accelerating action on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic towards SDG achievement by 2030. The WSIS Forum is co-organized by ITU, UNCTAD, UNESCO, and UNDP with the engagement of other UN Agencies, including UN DESA.  

Promoting e-governance and digital service delivery  

To build local capacity for public service delivery, UN DESA developed a 5-module introductory course outlining aspects and tools for developing and improving local e-government. Participants gain an understanding of the importance of local e-government services and linking these with the SDGs, major challenges of local e-government and various uses of emerging technologies to enhance service delivery. UN DESA has so far trained more than 483 local government officials with 5 additional workshops planned. UN DESA’s Project Office on Governance (UNPOG) organized a regional symposium on public institutions and digital government that promoted knowledge sharing and the exchange of innovative practices on leveraging public governance and digital technologies for SDG implementation, especially in response to COVID-19. The Regional Symposium was attended by more than 200 participants from 64 countries with a diversified representation from government agencies, think tanks, academia, private sector, civil society and international organizations. The capacity development webinar, Leveraging ICTs and Digital Government for Innovative Solutions to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic - Responses in Africa, also helped to equip African countries with strengthened capacity in leveraging ICTs and digital government to fight COVID-19. This webinar was organized in collaboration with the African Association for Public Administration and Management, the African Union Development Agency, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and ITU Regional Office for Africa. The Webinar was pre-registered by a total of 299 participants with the participation of 70 countries with more than 3000 additional views of the Facebook livestream video. 

Providing perspective on the impacts of emerging science and frontier technologies  

The fast pace of science and technology in many fields, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology is having broad impacts on economy, society, and the environment. To support decisionmakers to make sense of the rapid changes, UN DESA brought together hundreds of experts and stakeholders and synthesized a wide range of research, science-policy briefs, UN publications and assessments. In partnership with IEEE, the Department initiated a new series of online events on New Technologies, Ethics and Policy Engagement for Sustainable Development. It further synthesized stateof-the art findings from integrated assessments, scenario, and technology studies to identify promising technology scenarios and high impact digital technology solutions for the SDGs. As co-lead in the research and analysis work stream of the United Nations Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT), the Department contributed to the report, Emerging science, frontier technologies, and the SDGs - Perspectives from the UN system and science and technology communities, released in May 2021. UN DESA, jointly with ITU, explored the development implications of quantum information technology in the online event , The Era of Quantum Information Technology - Promises and Pitfalls, held in May 2021. The event included an exchange of views among academic and private sector experts on the rapidly evolving cluster of quantum sensors, © World Bank quantum computing and the emerging quantum internet. 

It served as a reality check and offered a rough timeline of technology applications, their potential development impacts, and important actions to be taken by public and private sectors, to build the necessary infrastructure and skills in preparation for these new possibilities.  

The Department also continued its periodic review of how emerging and frontier technologies matter for sustainable development. The Department’s quarterly publication, Frontier Technology Issues (FTI) serves to stimulate technology-related discussions within the Department and other UN agencies, and serve as a springboard for broader discussions to enrich policy discourse on frontier technologies. The November 2020 FTI examined the role of digital technologies in creating decent work (SDG 8), improving health services and outcomes (SDG 3), and promoting education and learning (SDG 4), but warns that despite the benefits, technology is widening disparities and those on the wrong side of the digital divide risk being left further behind. The June 2021 FTI examined the growing importance of lithium-ion batteries in laying the foundation for a fossil fuel-free (3Fs) economy.  

Multistakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum) 

More than 10,000 scientists, innovators, technology specialists, entrepreneurs, and representatives from governments and civil society participated in or listened live to the formal sessions of the 6th Annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology, and the SDGs (STI Forum) in 2021. The potential social media reach neared 980 million. Convened by the President of ECOSOC and co-chaired by Latvia and Indonesia, the UN DESA-supported Forum discussed the theme, Science, technology and innovation for a sustainable and resilient COVID-19 recovery, and effective pathways of inclusive action towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  

The Forum comprised ministerial and thematic sessions, an exhibition featuring the winners of the UN innovation competition, and 33 side events. It deliberated on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for shaping a better science-policy-society interface, a resilient recovery, and rapid responses to global challenges. It identified STI solutions for “building back better” and accelerating progress towards the SDGs and for ensuring inclusion in innovation. The co-chairs’ summary of the Forum informed the 2021 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. 

The 2021 STI Forum included a virtual exhibition featuring the winners of two innovation competitions organized by UN DESA, in 2020 and 2021, in partnership with the Global Innovation Exchange. The 2021 competition sought innovations developed or adapted to address COVID19-associated disruptions, while the 2020 competition focused on innovations for transformative change more broadly. The 10 winners of the 2021 competition were chosen from more than 625 entries, and the 15 winners of the 2020 competition were selected from among nearly 350 entries. The virtual exhibition consisted of a series of moderated roundtables that allowed the innovators to describe their cutting-edge initiatives and share insights from continuing to implement their innovations in context of the covid-19 pandemic. The roundtables were organized around themes: food systems, vulnerable communities, education, maternal and child health and environmental sustainability 

UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism  

DESA has served as the Secretariat for the UN inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (IATT) and 10-Member-Group of High-level Representatives of Civil Society, Private Sector and Scientific Community to support the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism (10 Member Group) and all components of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) since their inception in 2015. The mandates related the TFM and the DESA’s support has being contributed to harnessing science, technology, and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development. 

DESA is coordinating the UN IATT which currently includes 46 UN entities and well over a hundred staff members active in ten workstreams. The workstreams on emerging technologies, STI Roadmaps, Gender, Online Technology Platform, and Capacity Building bring together the collective, aggregate and joined-up UN system-wide effort in the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Non-United Nations entities, such as OECD and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission are also very active in selected areas. For example, in 2021, an inter-agency task team sub-working group has brought analytical expertise across the United Nations system and tapped into the perspectives of hundreds of experts and stakeholders to publish an inter-agency report on emerging science, frontier technologies and the Sustainable Development Goals. The sub-working group has also synthesized state-of-the art findings from integrated assessments and scenario and technology studies to identify promising technology scenarios and high-impact digital technology solutions for the Goals. 

The inter-agency task team has addressed science, technology and innovation issues related to COVID-19, in line with the COVID-19 response by the Secretary-General. That includes, for example, a call for COVID-19 technology solutions, and a related Department of Economic and Social Affairs policy brief entitled “The COVID-19 pandemic: a wake-up call for better cooperation at the science-policy-society interface”. 

UN DESA has led the UN Inter-agency Task Team on STI for the SDGs undertaking substantial analytical and operational work on STI roadmaps and action plans for the SDGs, in cooperation with Japan and the Joint Research Centre of the EU. It has developed a joint Guidebook and Operational Note, background papers and progress report, and had several expert consultations to prepare the Guidebook. A Resource Guide on Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategies was published. In 2021, despite the context of the global pandemic, the Global Pilot Programme has advanced its implementation and pilot countries presented results and shared their experiences through a number of on-line meetings, organized by the UN DESA.  

The Partnership in Action, initiated by the DESA, will serve as a platform to strengthen the development and implementation of science, technology and innovation for Sustainable Development Goals road maps. 

The capacity-building workstream of IATT delivered a series of pilot online training workshops on science, technology and innovation policy and instruments on the Goals, attended by mid-level science, technology and innovation policymakers from developing countries. In April and May 2021, the workstream delivered two online training workshops on current approaches to science, technology and innovation policymaking in the context of the Goals targeting Latin American countries, with more than 200 policymakers and government officials from the region. 

In the period 2020–2021, members of the gender working group co-sponsored and participated in the celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, held in February 2021 at United Nations Headquarters, and contributed to a number of panels and sessions promoting science, technology and innovation studies and careers to women and girls. 

The 2030 Connect online platform became fully operational in July 2020, supported by DESA and the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) working as part of a 46-member consortium of United Nations offices, advised by of the 10-Member Group. DESA and OICT have undertaken a comprehensive needs assessment to help shape 2030 Connect into a tool that can be truly useful for a wide range of stakeholders. Mandated by Member States in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as part of the TFM, the online platform will be free of charge and open to all. However, in order to offer relevant, up-to-date resources, 2030 Connect will require significant investment to maintain and expand its operation and services to cover costs for licencing, hosting and upgrades. 


5.9 investing in data and statistics for the SDGs; and 

Monitoring progress towards the SDGs  

UN DESA led preparation of the annual Sustainable Development Goals Report, as central coordinator of the global SDG indicator framework and monitoring process. The Sustainable Development Goals Report and other monitoring tools provide policy makers and stakeholders with the latest SDG data to identify areas for targeted policy interventions and enable informed decision making. The 2021 Report demonstrates how COVID-19 has disrupted development activities for the SDG implementation across the world and set back years of progress made on the Global Goals. The annual report is based on data from the global SDG indicator framework developed by the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators and is prepared in collaboration with over 200 experts from over 50 agencies, funds, and programmes. 

Supporting the global data response to COVID-19  

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an unprecedented demand for urgently needed information to help save lives and livelihoods across the world. At the same time, the operation of statistical systems has been tremendously challenged due to lockdown measures and extraordinary budget cuts. UN DESA joined efforts with National Statistical Offices (NSOs), government agencies, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector around the world, to ensure that the best quality data and statistics are available to help address the crisis. This includes tracking the evolution of the disease, monitoring its social and economic impacts, and supporting governments’ mitigation and recovery plans. As part of the 36-member Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities, the Department contributed to a series of reports entitled How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective, which offer a snapshot of differential success in mitigating the pandemic across countries. The series has reached more than 50,000 readers since its release, providing insight into good practices and effective policies. Conducted in collaboration with the World Bank and the UN Regional Commissions, a three-phase survey of NSOs assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on statistical operations, and the responses by NSOs to the mounting challenges.  

UN DESA's capacity development efforts continued to support NSOs to integrate innovative and experimental sources, methods, and technologies to make crucial data open and easily accessible to all sectors of society. In the white paper, COVID-19: Ready to Respond, UN DESA highlighted how Member States used integrated geospatial information to understand and respond to the impact of COVID-19. Prepared in the Department’s role as Secretariat of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM), the paper outlined how, from early on, researchers and governments have been making use of highly visual geospatial data and applications to record and report the virus’ spread. With the virus inherently anchored to geographic locations, response to the virus is also about location. For decision-makers it means understanding and communicating where to deploy and strengthen healthcare services, hospitals, and medical supply chains, and mitigate the economic impact. This effort by the geospatial community and UN DESA continues as the focus shifts now towards disseminating vaccines. 

Developing new and progressive methodological guidelines  

Since 2018, UN DESA has led a revision of the statistical framework and methodological development of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting–Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA). The SEEA EA enables countries to measure their natural capital and understand the contributions of nature to our prosperity. The Department engaged over 100 experts to contribute to 23 discussion papers, and consulted with more than 500 additional experts in finalizing the framework. The SEEA EA takes a spatial approach and provides a framework for measuring the extent and health of ecosystems, as well as the services they provide to humanity. UN DESA’s coordination of the 3-year revision process led to the submission of the draft text to the 52nd session of the United Nations Statistical Commission in March 2021, culminating in the adoption of SEEA EA as an international statistical standard, a critical step for introducing measures into national accounting systems to complement GDP. UN DESA also continued to deliver important guidance for chief statisticians across the world for maintaining statistical capacity that meets current and evolving needs. The department guided preparation of the new Handbook on Management and Organization of National Statistical Systems, which was endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission in March 2021. The Handbook is a living document that will be updated with new practices and challenges including through the outcomes of a series of upcoming regional thematic conferences. 

UN DESA further contributed to developing new data reporting guidelines in the area of demographics. As the custodian agency for SDG indicator 3.7.2 on adolescent birth per 1,000 women, UN DESA had previously reported only on adolescent fertility for young women aged 15-19 years. In October 2020, UN DESA organized an expert group meeting on the evaluation of adolescent fertility data and estimates, which developed recommendations with a view to also report on adolescent fertility at ages 10-14 years. In May 2021, an expert group meeting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility aimed to support the official United Nations population estimates and projections by identifying mechanisms through which the COVID-19 pandemic may affect fertility, assessing recent data on marriage, fertility preferences, family planning and births; and providing recommendations to estimate the impact of the pandemic on fertility levels and trends. 

Promoting peer-to-peer learning and collaboration  

The United Nations World Data Forum 2020 was successfully transitioned from a planned in-person event for 1,500 participants to a virtual event which attracted more than 10,000 participants (40% under the age of 35) from more than 180 countries. The virtual programme contained 70 sessions with speakers from 300 organizations and covered a wide range of topics including data issues related to COVID-19, open data, citizen science, artificial intelligence, data privacy, communication, and funding. The Forum’s virtual space also featured a youth documentary competition, an exhibit space, and networking opportunities. The World Data Forum was organized around the quinquennial World Statistics Day which was coordinated by UN DESA and celebrated by NSOs around the world with the theme, Connecting the world with data we can trust, reflecting on the importance of trust, authoritative data, innovation, and the public good in national statistical systems.  

Promoting statistical principles, integration of innovative data sources, and open data  

UN DESA is supporting development and implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Data Strategy, which responds to the urgent need for the UN System to innovate and modernize the way data is compiled, integrated, presented, and communicated to users from multiple constituencies, and to maximize the value of data and statistics. The UN System plays a crucial role in supporting countries and in ensuring the quality, harmonization, and consistency of the data it curates and disseminates. UN DESA, in partnership with Statistics Korea and ESCAP, organized the 6th International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics. The conference focused on the COVID-19 response, Big Data and SDGs. The conference showcased the UN Global Platform and its regional hubs for Big Data in Brazil, China, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates, which offer many opportunities for Big Data collaboration. The conference also highlighted how statistical institutes can acquire the right skills and capacities to fully benefit from use of new data sources and new technologies.  

 Integrating statistical and geospatial information in decision-making  

UN DESA in 2020-2021 provided secretariat support to four data-related intergovernmental processes: The Statistical Commission, the UN Committee of Experts for Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), the UN Group of Experts for Geographical Names (UNGEGN), and the Commission on Population and Development. The substantive work of these bodies enables the development of statistical standards, norms and data processes to support the collection, production, and management of sound data for policy-making. The National Statistical Offices and National Geospatial Information Agencies were represented in these intergovernmental bodies and collaborated to integrate statistical and geospatial information and had a commensurate impact in responding to COVID-19 by informing decisionmakers and communicating to people on necessary actions. 

Improving data governance  

UN DESA has developed a new interactive online training course on data governance for sustainable development. While there is an increasing emphasis on the centrality of data in implementing the SDGs, data governance has not been given sufficient importance. UN DESA’s online training course aims to help countries fill this gap. Strengthening the collection of administrative data UN DESA and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data initiated the multi-stakeholder Collaborative on Use of Administrative Data for Statistics, consisting of countries and regional and international agencies. The Collaborative takes a crosscutting approach to bring experiences from different thematic areas, countries and experts with different expertise. Administrative data collected by governments and service providers is increasingly important as a source for the production of official statistics in order to fill data gaps to monitor progress and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and to address emerging challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Assessing the deaths attributable to the pandemic  

In February 2021, UN DESA and WHO came together to create the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Mortality Assessment, bringing together over 30 experts from around the world and from different areas of specialization, including national statistical offices, health ministries, and academia, especially in the areas of demography, epidemiology and statistics. This technical advisory group supports efforts by WHO, UN DESA, and UN Member States to obtain accurate estimates of numbers of deaths attributable to the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic. 


5.10 strengthening the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). 

Supporting the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development  

UN DESA supported the substantive preparations for the High-level Political Forum, convened from 6 to 15 July 2021, which focused on sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Support included review of the main theme and in-depth assessment of nine SDGs - Goals 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16 and 17 and their interlinkages. The Department prepared the Secretary-General’s annual report on progress towards the SDGs and the synthesis of the voluntary submissions by functional commissions of ECOSOC and other intergovernmental bodies and forums. UN DESA also coordinated with regional commissions on regional forums on sustainable development and helped the HLPF to build on the outcomes of the Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up, the STI Forum, the Development Cooperation Forum, and other intergovernmental bodies. Ten Heads of State and Government and about 160 Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and Vice-Ministers participated in the HLPF opening, thematic interactive panels, town hall meeting, fireside chats, and the general debate. The Heads of the UN system and other organizations were also among the participants, including WHO, IMF, WTO, UNDP, UNICEF, OHCHR, UNCTAD, ITU, IOM, Regional Commissions, IUCN, and others. Participating distinguished experts included the 2019 Nobel Laureate, mayors, and local authorities. Civil society was also featured among the participants, with representatives of other major stakeholder groups, including the business sector, women, and youth.  

On the margins of the HLPF, UN DESA also organised seven dedicated high-level special events, three report launches, 17 VNR Labs, 276 side events, and 12 exhibitions. These events provided great opportunities for Member States and other stakeholders to share diverse views on the theme and the SDGs under review, deepen the discussion on the voluntary national reviews (VNRs), identify new issues, listen to all voices, and help spread greater awareness of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at all levels.  

Supporting preparation of voluntary national reviews (VNRs)  

UN DESA organized three Global Workshops for countries presenting a voluntary national review (VNR) of their implementation of the 2030 Agenda in 2021, in collaboration with the Regional Commissions. The virtual workshops explained and supported the VNR process and showcased how VNR countries are incorporating the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs into national strategies, frameworks and institutions. The workshops provided an opportunity for countries to share the challenges they are facing and successful policy initiatives they are implementing in support of the 2030 Agenda. There were also five regional workshops to support regional exchange of experiences and lessons learnt in implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda. 42 countries presented their VNRs at the 2021 HLPF. Eight Member States presented for the first time, 24 for the second time and 10 for the third time. To date, 177 countries have presented a VNR, with 59 countries having presented more than once.  

For the fourth year, UN DESA supported Member States in reflecting on innovations related to the VNRs. It organized 17 VNR Labs in the margins of the 2021 HLPF. The VNR Labs provide an informal platform for experiencesharing and reflection on the VNR process. Some discussed issues cutting across the VNRs, such as policy coherence, the principle of leaving no one behind, data and statistics, resource mobilization and partnerships. In addition, three countries, Japan, Tunisia and Uruguay, presented their national processes in detail and engaged in longer interactions. 

Promoting an SDG-focused pandemic recovery  

Convened by the UN Secretary-General, the first SDG Moment of the Decade of Action was held virtually on 18 September 2020. UN DESA supported a digital platform with the SDG outlook for each VNR country, based on the latest data and research. The SDG Moment helped world leaders to map out a vision for the Decade of Action and recovering better from COVID-19. It highlighted plans and actions to tackle major implementation gaps. It demonstrated the power and impact of action and innovation by SDG stakeholders. Relatedly, UN DESA supported the 2021 ECOSOC Highlevel segment, which focused on strengthening the ECOSOC, at its 75th anniversary, for shaping a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while advancing the 2030 Agenda. The Department provided analysis to support the segment that assessed mediumterm, long-term and emerging socioeconomic trends and scenarios that could impact recovery from the pandemic and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting underscored that, while working to recover better from the pandemic, we should also look at what we want to achieve by 2030, and beyond. 

Strengthening ECOSOC and the HLPF to better support the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda 

 UN DESA supported the 75th General Assembly’s review of ECOSOC and the HLPF, co-facilitated by the Permanent Representatives of Austria and Senegal. The review aimed to improve the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global level. The review process resulted in two General Assembly resolutions, A/RES/75/290 A on ECOSOC, and A/ RES/75/290 B on the HLPF. Member States introduced measures to strengthen ECOSOC, including an earlier kickoff of the work of ECOSOC, with a coordination segment and a partnership forum convened by early February each year. They broadened the focus of the ECOSOC event on Transition from Relief to Development to include support to building peaceful societies and strengthened ECOSOC cooperation with the Peace-building Commission. In the resolution on the HLPF, Member States decided on the themes for the 2022 and 2023 HLPF and ECOSOC, and the SDGs for HLPF review in those two years. The resolution also provides new ideas on the VNRs and recognizes the local and regional dimensions. 

Bringing diverse voices to the table: Major Groups and Other Stakeholders in the HLPF  

In preparation for the 2021 HLPF, UN DESA maintained a close partnership with the Major Groups and other Stakeholders Coordination Mechanism (MGoS). UN DESA worked to ensure the participation of MGoS representatives during the informal consultations on the HLPF/HLS Ministerial Declaration and as lead discussants in the thematic official sessions of the HLPF. The Department also secured space for MGoS representatives worldwide to collaborate in submitting questions to countries presenting VNRs. MGoS constituencies, organisations accredited with ECOSOC consultative status, and organizations on the CSD Roster submit inputs to the HLPF. These organizations can also submit applications for side events and exhibitions, participate in the VNR Labs and Special Events. 

Promoting gender equality and the advancement of women in ECOSOC and the HLPF  

At the 2021 HLPF, gender equality and the empowerment of women were critical dimensions of measures considered for transforming economies and building more just, equal and inclusive societies in response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. UN DESA actively promoted the consideration of gender concerns in the Forum’s deliberations by providing clear guidance to session organizers to mainstream gender perspectives into the discussions. As a result, gender considerations were systematically integrated in HLPF meetings, and women’s critical role in the COVID-19 response was recognized in the Ministerial Declaration adopted by HLPF and ECOSOC by consensus. The Forum agreed that gender equality and women’s empowerment were fundamental for a more inclusive and just society and key for a sustainable recovery. In addition, UN DESA ensured that 47% of featured speakers were women. Relatedly, UN DESA led the development of a new framework for keeping track of progress in the implementation of the QCPR. The framework uses a new generation of key performance indicators for giving greater insights to Member States on the efficiency and impacts of the UNDS support to countries’ implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 


ECESA Plus Member
Year of submission: 2021