United Nations University: Annual Report 2021 – World
As a trusted knowledge partner within the United Nations system, the United Nations University (UNU) connects diverse groups of international actors to generate and share research with a wide range of audiences. UNU translates this research into evidence-based policy recommendations and delivers it to those who can drive positive change, helping to ensure that policy works for people, locally and globally. The University further encourages the creation and exchange of knowledge through education and capacity building programs.
The UN Secretary-General’s September report, Our Common Agenda, asserts that “one of the main roles of the United Nations (UN) is to provide reliable data and evidence”, and declares the need for “acceleration of our efforts to produce and disseminate reliable and verified information“. This is precisely the role of the UNU, which is mandated by its Charter (adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1973) to “dedicate its work to research into pressing global problems of survival, development and human well-being that concern humanity”. United Nations and its agencies”.
Thanks to the “autonomy within the framework of the United Nations” and “academic freedom” (as stipulated by the UNU Charter) of the University, UNU is now recognized as a research institution and a unbiased think tank that tackles important political issues and isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Throughout its 46-year history, UNU has pioneered the development of knowledge and expertise that transcends traditional scientific boundaries, reflecting the intertwined nature of global systems and issues, and has contributed to develop innovative research methodologies as well as better ways to assess well-being and measure sustainable development.
Its unique dual identity as a research/training institution and a trusted knowledge partner within the UN system enables UNU to serve as a bridge between global research communities and international policy-making communities. . UNU experts conduct interdisciplinary research, translate findings into evidence-based policy recommendations, and deliver them to policy makers and others who can bring about positive change. Conversely, the University is also able to provide the academic and research communities around the world with insight into the research needs of the United Nations and an opportunity to help shape policy-making at the UN.
Because UNU operates as a global network of institutes, each of which focuses on a specific set of topics, the University’s work spans many geographic areas across the South and North, thus cutting across a multitude of international and regional policy spaces and platforms, and covers a wide range of scientific and academic disciplines. In 2021, the UNU research program comprised 205 projects encompassing three broad themes: peace and security; social change and economic development; and environment, climate and energy.
This annual report provides a broad overview of the thematic and geographical scope of UNU’s work and its contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); summarizes the University’s knowledge sharing activities and efforts to engage and support countries in the Global South; describes the University’s contributions to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic; and introduces the UNU global network – its structure, resources and leadership.