United Nations system organizations

The United Nations is composed of six principal organs.  

The Secretariat is the executive arm of the United Nations. The United Nations Secretariat carries out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other main organs. It is divided in Offices and Departments and plays an important role in setting the agenda and implement the decisions of the deliberative and decision-making bodies of the UN (i.e., the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Security Council). The Secretary-General is the head of the Secretariat.

The United Nations General Assembly is another of the six principal organs of the United Nations, serving as the main organ for deliberation, policymaking, and representation in the UN. It assumes a special political position that makes it pivotal for all United Nations activities. A number of UN offices, programmes and funds report to the General Assembly. These organizations have their own governing bodies, budgets and secretariats.

All those organizations are known as the UN system.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

The Office works to help all countries, especially developing countries, access and leverage the benefits of space to accelerate sustainable development. In recent years the Office has conducted a variety of outreach, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities which have included climate change as a topic

UNOOSA is also the Secretariat of UN-Space, an inter-agency mechanism of the United Nations that meets and discusses matters related to the use of space technologies in their activities. The United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities is a formal mechanism, aimed at enhancing coordination of space-related activities within the United Nations system.

The United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) was established by the General Assembly through its resolution 61/110 of 14 December 2006 and is implemented through UNOOSA. The mandate of UN-SPIDER is to enable developing countries to use all types of space-based information in all phases of the disaster management cycle including prevention, preparedness, early warning, response and reconstruction.

UN-SPIDER works together with UNDRR and WMO, along with other international and national agencies, in the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS: https://mhews.wmo.int/en/partners). This multi-stakeholder partnership facilitates the sharing of expertise and good practice on strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems as an integral component of national strategies for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and building resilience.

More information on the work of UNOOSA on space and climate change

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR: www.undrr.org ) is mandated as the focal point for disaster risk reduction within the United Nations system, by endorsing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. UNDRR works at advocating and promoting coherence and synergies between disaster risk reduction, climate change and ultimately sustainable development.

UNDRR adopted the Bonn Declaration in 2017, which specifically calls UNOOSA and UNISDRR to work with the space community and relevant partners to develop robust solutions for disaster risk reduction. The Declaration also called on WMO, United Nations agencies, GEO and other relevant organizations, to facilitate the identification of relevant satellite data and information to help with implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement on climate and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (Space technologies key to risk reduction | UNDRR)

UNDRR and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have established the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS: https://mhews.wmo.int/en/partners) with other international and national agencies, including UN-SPIDER. This multi-stakeholder partnership facilitates the sharing of expertise and good practice on strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems as an integral component of national strategies for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and building resilience.

United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) works on delivering transformational change for people and nature by drilling down to the root causes of the three planetary crises of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. It employs seven interlinked subprogrammes for action: Climate Action, Chemicals and Pollutions Action, Nature Action, Science Policy, Environmental Governance, Finance and Economic Transformations and Digital Transformations.

UNEP helped establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has concentrated on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by promoting renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.

The World Environment Situation Room is the new UNEP data, information and knowledge platform that includes georeferenced, remote-sensing and Earth observation integrated with statistics and data on the environmental dimension of sustainable development to support decision-making, policy-setting and action at the global, regional, national and local levels. (World Environment Situation Room (unep.org) )

United Nations Institute for Training and Research UNOSAT

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) focus on the area of climate change through the Climate Change Programme (CCP) (https://unitar.org/about/news-stories/news/climate-change-programme ). The programme builds capacity at the country level through CCP projects.  

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has an operational satellite applications programme, promoting evidence-based decision-making for peace, security and resilience by using geospatial information technologies. In June 2021, the United Nations Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution that recognized the programme as the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT: https://www.unitar.org/sustainable-development-goals/united-nations-sate... ).

United Nations Development Program

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) responds to the climate challenge with the Climate Promise (What We Do | Climate Promise (undp.org)) and ensure that any country wishing to increase the ambition of their national climate pledge is able to do so. UNDP is supporting countries to turn their nationally determined contributions targets into concrete action.  

The UNDP Geographic Information System and Satellite Imagery Team is working with countries to provide free analysis and interpretation of the data. UNDP and UNOSAT collaborated to develop a web-mapping interface: the “Geo-localized Maps and Satellite Imagery Analysis” (UNDP Projects (unosat.org))platform which allows UNDP to monitor projects, measure impacts and communicate results in a more visual manner. The objective of this platform is the implementation of a satellite imagery

United Nations University

The United Nations University (UNU) works on climate change and focuses on contributing to insurance safety nets for island communities threatened by sea level rise and extreme weather as well as on advancing strategies to reduce carbon emissions through international cooperation. Furthermore, it is helping democratize access to leading low-carbon technologies for developing countries.

UNU-led experts have debuted a new tool that generates instant, accurate street-level resolution maps of floods worldwide since 1985. This free online World Flood Mapping Tool was created by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) to help inform disaster mitigation and other planning in all countries, especially those in the Global South where flood risk maps are rare and often badly out-of-date. The flood mapping tool generates inundation maps for significant floods from 1984 until the present using open Earth data and improves the accuracy of the inundation maps by using data from multiple satellite sensors (harmonized Landsat Sentinel-2 data)