United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)




The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) works closely with governments and stakeholders to help countries around the world meet their economic, social and environmental goals. As the Secretariat entity responsible for the development pillar of the United Nations (UN), its work addresses a range of cross-cutting issues that affect peoples’ lives and livelihoods. From poverty reduction to governance to finance to the environment, UN DESA’s work is about human progress for all, especially the most vulnerable.

UN DESA’s work is guided by the UN development agenda, which is rooted in the values of equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and mutual responsibility. Working closely with governments and other partners, UN DESA seeks concrete solutions and is committed to addressing the world’s most pressing concerns and taking the necessary steps to help create a better world for all – a world that is inclusive, prosperous and sustainable.

UN DESA’s work programme can be categorized into three areas: norm-setting, analysis, and capacity-building. Whether by supporting policy-making bodies, facilitating major UN conferences, projecting trends in demography, publishing top quality economic analysis, or helping countries develop capacity, UN DESA’s influence has reach far beyond the doors of the UN.


What is UN DESA doing?

  • Facilitates the negotiations of Members States in many intergovernmental bodies to address ongoing or emerging global challenges;
  • Provides substantive support to intergovernmental processes on development issues in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council;
  • Advises interested Governments on the ways and means of translating policy frameworks developed in the UN conferences and summits into programmes at the country level;
  • Collaborate closely with its partners at regional and country levels in helping countries to formulate and implement development strategies;
  • Compiles, generates and analyses a wide range of economic, social and environmental data and information on which States Members of the United Nations draw.


Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) at UN DESA


The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of UN DESA is the UN’s focal point on cooperatives, responsible for the promotion of cooperatives in development at the national and international levels and providing analysis and policy advice to governments and intergovernmental bodies of the UN. DSPD works collaboratively with the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC). DSPD also organizes expert group meetings (EGMs), conducts special studies on issues related to growth and development of cooperatives, and conducts capacity building activities to strengthen the work of governments and cooperatives.


Major UN DESA Publications

  • United Nations Secretary-General Report on Cooperatives – Cooperatives in social development and the observance of the International Year of Cooperatives, 2013, A/68/168
  • Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all, 2013, E/CN.5/2013/3
  • Report on the World Social Situation 2013: Inequality Matters, 2013


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