Financing the United Nations Development System:

Time to Walk the Talk

This sixth edition of the Financing the United Nations Development System report presents comprehensive data on United Nations revenues and expenditures.

The landscape of global affairs has dramatically shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UN development system (UNDS) now faces a significant challenge: how best to support and complement multilateral responses to the pandemic. The situation is grave, with the pandemic throwing up serious obstacles to multilateralism.

This year’s report has been produced in full recognition that the effects of the pandemic demand humility, and with an acceptance of the need to prepare for significant trend shifts. The financial data presented here provide an important benchmark for understanding the quality and quantity of UN financing when the pandemic struck.

Importantly, in 2019 the UN and its Member States agreed on a Funding Compact, which included a commitment to tackle a number of financial challenges that must be overcome if the 2030 Agenda is to be effectively implemented. Such efforts were critical before the pandemic – they are even more so now.

The report is divided into three parts. Part One examines the UN’s financial ecosystem, including revenues and expenditures, and addresses data-quality issues. As always, the intention is to let the figures, tables and graphs speak for themselves where possible. This online version also allows interaction with the data through a series of data visualisations. In Parts Two and Three, contributors from within and outside the UN system reflect on the financing of the Sustainable Development Goals, and on embracing UN reform.

Now is the time for the UN to walk the talk. COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, a devastating impact on the lives and wellbeing of people around the world. By walking the talk, Member States can ensure that the UN is properly financed to facilitate building back, and leaves no one behind.

United Nations resource flows

Part One examines the overall revenue and expenditure for the entire UN system in 2018.

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals

Part Two discusses current SDG financing, including strategies, priorities and the way forward.

Embracing United Nations reform

Part Three explores potential reforms to the financing of the UN development system.