The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) is part of the United Nations Secretariat and is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences, as well as services to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Second and Third Committees of the United Nations General Assembly. UN DESA assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges. It supports international cooperation to promote sustainable development for all, having as a foundation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015. In providing a broad range of analytical products, policy advice, and technical assistance, UN DESA effectively translates global commitments in the economic, social and environmental spheres into national policies and actions and continues to play a key role in monitoring progress towards internationally agreed-upon development goals. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.
UN DESA is part of the UN Secretariat, which is funded through regular assessed contributions from Member States. The Department was reorganized into its present form in 1997. The Department is headed by Liu Zhenmin who assumed the office of Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, following his appointment to this position by Secretary-General António Guterres on 26 July 2017. Mr. Liu advises the Secretary-General on the three pillars of sustainable development – social economic and environmental, and nurtures key partnerships with governments, UN agencies and civil society organizations, including the SDGs. In directing and managing UN DESA, the Under-Secretary-General is supported by the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs.
UN DESA's mission is to promote sustainable development for all, focusing on the most vulnerable. This reflects a fundamental concern for equity and equality in countries large and small, developed and developing. It underscores the need for all stakeholders – governments, UN and other international organizations, civil society and the private sector – to do their part to improve economic and social well-being. This emphasis on equitable participation by all people and nations is what makes the United Nations unique and gives the development agenda its universal legitimacy.