Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 197 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention. The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC. Read more about the Convention
Together with the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement establish the institutional agreements for the climate change intergovernmental process. Read more about governing, process management, subsidiary constituted and concluded Bodies.
The next Conference of the Parties (COP), COP25, under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and with logistical support from the Government of Spain, will take place in Madrid, Spain from 2 to 13 December 2019. You can find out more about the COP here, and visit the Chile presidency website here.
WMO is the specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to international cooperation and cooperation on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources. WMO studies the climate, its variations and extremes, and its influences on a variety of activities including human health, safety and welfare to support evidence-based decision-making on how to best adapt to a changing climate. WMO created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988.
The United Nations publishes information and documents on climate change and related issues. Click on the links below to see what has been issued. If you want to consult other documents, you can search the Digital Library.
To learn how to research UN documentation, consult our UN Documentation Research Guide.
Mandated to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development, ECA's mission is to deliver ideas and actions for an empowered and transformed Africa, informed by the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. Its African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) works towards the goal of contributing to poverty reduction through successful mitigation and adaptation to climate change in Africa and to improve the capacity of African countries to participate effectively in multilateral climate negotiations. Access recent ACPC publications here.
ECE's major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration, as well as cooperation, sustainable development and economic prosperity. It is a driving force in combating climate change in the region: it contributes to defining a legal and regulatory framework to facilitate climate change mitigation, devising climate change adaptation strategies and offering solutions in transport. You can find on their site the Voluntary National Reviews for UNECE member States on their work in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
ECLAC's mission in the field of climate change is to jointly contribute with its partners to knowledge generation and public policy design that promotes adaptation that is inclusive and sustainable, integrating the transition to environmentally sustainable and low greenhouse gas economies. See ECLAC publications on climate change, including the Effects of climate change on the coasts of Latin America and the Caribbean, and read more about ECLAC's work on Agenda 2030, including SDG 13 on climate action.
Serving as a regional hub to promote cooperation among countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, ESCAP is committed to support its 53 member States in realizing their climate change and resilience ambitions, particularly the least developed countries and small island developing States, through capacity-building, policy dialogues and the sharing of experiences and information. Their SDG Help Desk resources includes opportunities for peer-learning and data portals, including the SDG Gateway and access to SDG 13 Climate Action data.
ESCWA provides a framework for the formulation and harmonization of sectoral policies for member countries, a platform for congress and coordination, a home for expertise and knowledge, and an information observatory. ESCWA works with partners to tackle climate change issues in the region. Their data portal includes an Environment and Energy Sample dashboard. ESCWA publications on climate change can be accessed here.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme to provide governments an objective source of scientific information. The establishment of the IPCC was endorsed by UN General Assembly in 1988. Its initial task, as outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988, was to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; the social and economic impact of climate change, and potential response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate.
The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. The IPCC currently has 195 members.
Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.
In 2013 the IPCC provided more clarity about the role of human activities in climate change when it released its Fifth Assessment Report. It is categorical in its conclusion: climate change is real and human activities are the main cause.
UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. Climate Change is one of the seven thematic areas addressed by UNEP. UNEP created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in 1988. With support from the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment, UNEP leads the Geneva Environment Network, a cooperative partnership of over 75 environment and sustainable development organizations based in the Geneva region whose secretariat organizes and hosts meetings on the environment and sustainable development and promotes public awareness. Access the UNEP Document Repository HERE.
This yearly report details the UN System's environmental footprint and efforts to reduce it. Read about UN Climate Neutrality on their site, get data on greenhouse gas emissions for individual UN organizations, visit the 2019 report microsite, download the 2019 overview, and more.
DESA is home of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes Goal 13 on climate action, and upholds the development pillar of the United Nations, helping countries make informed decisions through their publications, databases and support fo international deliberations at the United Nations General Assembly, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Commissions, Forums and other bodies. Consult their Multimedia Library for their latest publications and other materials, and the website of their Statistics Division, which includes the Open SDG Data Hub and the SDG Indicators database.
UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. UNDP supports countries' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals, including by working with countries to turn their climate goals into action. At the heart of this, UNDP’s post-Paris climate commitment and support for designing and delivering ambitious climate plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), pave the way towards a more sustainable world for all.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has over 30 programmes that contribute to creating knowledge, educating and communicating about climate change, and to understanding the ethical implications for present and future generations- see, for example, Climate Change and Gender Equality. The July-September 2019 issue of UNESCO's publication The Courier focuses on the ethical challenges of climate change.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, along with the Human Rights Council (HRC) and its special procedures mechanisms, have sought to bring renewed attention to human rights and climate change through a series of resolutions, reports, and activities on the subject, and by advocating for a human rights based approach to climate change.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, protects and assists refugees, striving to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home, integrate or resettle. UNHCR provides critical emergency assistance during times of displacement and is taking action on climate change displacement. You can read more about UNHCR's role here, and read their 2018 study In Harm's Way: International protection in the context of nexus dynamics between conflict or violence and disaster or climate change.
Climate change threatens the essential ingredients of good health - clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter - and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health. WHO supports countries in building climate-resilient health systems and tracking national progress in protecting health from climate change.
UNRISD is an autonomous research institute within the UN system established in 1963 that undertakes interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues. Through its Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development Programme, UNRISD focuses on the intersectionality of social and environmental issues and policies at global, national and local levels.
UNCTAD provides analysis, facilitates consensus-building, and offers technical assistance to developing countries in order to help them use trade, investment, finance, and technology as vehicles for inclusive and sustainable development. UNCTAD's activities relating to SDG 13 on climate change seek to strengthen the capacity of beneficiary countries to address response measures in the context of sustainable development and as a form of international cooperation, and to explore the role of trade in implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and leveraging the various co-benefits.
UNDRR works with the UN system as focal point for coordination of disaster reduction. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) aims to reduce damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through prevention; UNDRR is focused on achieving stronger recognition of DRR and climate change adaptation as essential elements of climate risk management and sustainable development, including through the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. UNDRR manages PreventionWeb, a collaborative DRR knowledge sharing platform.
WFP delivers food assistance in emergencies and works with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Climate action is among its focus areas: WFP analysis highlights the links between food security and climate risks, and the impact of climate change on food security and nutrition. Their Food Insecurity and Climate Change Vulnerability map, developed with the UK Met Office, shows the importance of scaling up adaptation and mitigation efforts. WFP publications on climate change are available HERE.
FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, working in over 130 countries worldwide. Climate change threatens the ability to ensure global food security, while greenhouse gas emissions from human activity and livestock are a significant driver of climate change. FAO's work on climate change supports countries to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change as part of its work on the 2030 agenda and the SDGs.
UNU is a global think tank and postgraduate teaching organisation with mission to contribute, through collaborative research and education, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States. The UNU Sustainable Development Explorer brings together their work on the SDGs, including Goal 13 on Climate Action.