The United Nations University (UNU) is a global research and postgraduate teaching organisation headquartered in Japan. The mission of the UNU is 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, working with leading universities and research institutes and functioning as a bridge between the international academic community and the United Nations system.
The University encompasses 14 institutes located in 12 countries around the world. Through postgraduate teaching activities, UNU contributes to capacity building, particularly in developing countries. As part of the UN family of organisations, the University maintains close working relationships with other UN agencies, programmes, commissions, funds and convention secretariats.
The UN University undertakes cross-cultural, interdisciplinary research (utilising innovative, science-based techniques and methodologies to study important global processes and elaborate forward-looking solutions) and targeted foresight and policy studies (aimed at developing policy-relevant prescriptions and evaluating the feasibility and comparative advantages of each option). It provides postgraduate-level education (degree-oriented programmes and specialised training focused on problems and solutions rather than academic disciplines) and capacity development activities (aimed at helping developing and transitional countries to enhance local potential to address current problems/confront emergent challenges). It also promotes knowledge sharing and transfer (to deliver relevant information about UN University research, current scientific advances and best practices, in a timely manner and in a usable form, to those who most need it and can best use it).
As prescribed in the United Nations University Strategic Plan 2011–2014, the 26 major topics of focus of the UN University’s academic work fall within five interdependent thematic clusters:
1/ Peace, Security and Human Rights; Peace building and peace keeping, Conflict resolution and human security, Fostering dialogue among civilizations, religions and cultures, Human rights and ethics, Gender equality and mainstreaming,
2/ Human and Socio-economic Development and Good Governance; Growth and economic development, Alleviating poverty and inequalities, Good governance, Enhancing educational capacities, Fair trade, Processes and consequences of regional integration and cooperation, Leadership, management and entrepreneurship.
3/ Global Health, Population and Sustainable Livelihoods; Global health, Safe water and sanitation, Food and nutrition for human and social development, Combating HIV/AIDS, Population changes and migration.
4/ Global Change and Sustainable Development; Climate change — adaptation and mitigation, Ecological health and biodiversity, New risk and vulnerabilities, Sustainable land, agriculture and natural resources management, Green economy.
5/ Science, Technology, Innovation and Society; Science, technology and innovation, Sustainable energy futures, Sustainable urban futures, Sustainable housing and construction.
Collectively, these thematic clusters define the programme space within which the UN University undertakes its academic activities.