UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Educational Resources


The Essential UN
Take a moment to learn about the UN. The United Nations remains an essential pillar of the international system, working around the world, around the clock, for peace, sustainable development and human rights. At a time when challenges are increasingly global, and our fates are inexorably intertwined, understanding the United Nations itself—its aims, workings and ideals—is more important than ever.  The Essential UN website, provides a succinct and interactive way to quickly grasp the essentials of the Organisation through fast facts, short videos, information cards and fun quizzes.

United Nations – Get Involved
The UN Charter starts with “We the peoples.” Work with us, and together we will shape our future. There are many ways to join us and to get involved. You can apply and become a staff member, a volunteer, or an intern. You can connect with us on social media and join the global conversation on the issues facing humanity. You can affiliate your NGO with the UN, or join the UN Global Compact, if you are in the private sector. You can conduct research on the UN, teach courses on the UN, or cover the UN as a journalist.

UN Engagement Hub – Get involved and get engaged with the United Nations
Available here are The Game Zone, Mobile Apps, Competitions & Contests, Awards & Prizes, Podcasts, eLearning Tools.

UN Visitor Centre New York – Teach the UN
Find numerous teaching resources on a range of UN topics specifically tailored for educators and students.

Global Issues on the UN Agenda
As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone. To its initial goals of safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice and promoting economic and social progress, in the seven decades since its creation the United Nations has added on new challenges, such as AIDS, big data and climate change. While conflict resolution and peacekeeping continue to be among its most visible efforts, the UN, along with its specialized agencies, is also engaged in a wide array of activities to improve people’s lives around the world – from disaster relief, through education and advancement of women, to peaceful uses of atomic energy. This website offers an overview of some of these issues, and links to other resources, where you can get additional information.

Dag Hammarskjöld Library Research Guide – Youth and Sustainable Development
This quick guide provides information on Youth at the United Nations, UN Youth Milestones, links to statistical resources, key UN documents, books and reports and UN resources.

UN Information Service (UNIS) Vienna – Teaching Resources
For teachers who want to teach their students about the work and goals of the United Nations, UNIS Vienna has several useful teaching resources available on the following topics: Peace & Security, Development, Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs, and International Law.


Selected Publications Available Online

The Essential UN (February 2018)
As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone. This authoritative reference provides a comprehensive introduction and overview of the work of the UN in key areas of international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, and humanitarian action.

Basic Facts about the United Nations: 42nd edition
This comprehensive handbook designed for the general public explains the structure of the United Nations, how the Organization works, the main issues it addresses and its importance for people everywhere. In addition to setting out the various roles played by principle UN organs and related organizations, Basic Facts about the United Nations documents the Organization’s contributions to international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, humanitarian action, international law and decolonization. Appendices contain current data on UN membership and peacekeeping operations, as well as contact information for UN information centres, services and offices. This latest edition, published in 2017, has been revised to take account of significant developments in the world and the Organization itself since 2014.

United Nations at a Glance (December 2012)
This simple, authoritative guide provides a starting point for readers who are new to the UN. In clear language, this book explains what the UN does, how the UN does it, who the actors are, and when historical milestones occurred. Illustrated with photos and stories from the field, the guide examines the work of the UN in international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, and humanitarian action. As a resource to students and teachers alike, additional features include definitions of frequently used terms, rich statistics, questions and answers, and the building blocks of international law. For anyone who wants to learn more about the world’s foremost intergovernmental organisation, The United Nations at a Glance is the perfect place to start.

Why It Matters: 75 Milestones in International Cooperation (October 2020)
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library has launched a new annual series entitled “Why it matters”. Each volume will focus on one of the many deliberations of the United Nations. It will provide readers with a comprehensive overview, as well as an insightful backgrounder on the internal workings and the accomplishments of the Organization, backed by selected, credible knowledge sources and research expertise. The first volume in the series, “75 Milestones in International Cooperation”, chronicles pivotal moments that shaped the history of the United Nations and our world over the past 75 years.

Growing Together: Youth and the Work of the United Nations (2008)
The brochure is an example of how the United Nations system and the young people it serves are growing together. By taking stock of UN system activities related to youth development, the brochure provides a chance to assess how effectively the United Nations system is responding to this important development challenge, and it helps to identify any gaps that may exist in our approach.

United Nations Chronicle
“The Youth Issue” (Vol. XLVII, No. 4, 2010): https://www.un.org/en/issue/393
“Education” (Vol. L, No. 4, 2013): https://www.un.org/en/issue/373
…A must-read for every concerned world citizen, the United Nations Chronicle is a quarterly, easy-to-read report on the work of the United Nations and its agencies. Produced by the United Nations Department of Global Communications, every issue covers a wide range United Nations related activities: from fighting the drug war to fighting racial discrimination, from relief and development to nuclear disarmament, terrorism, and the world-wide environmental crisis.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, the Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force, addressing the need to limit the rise of global temperatures. Governments, businesses and civil society together with the United Nations are mobilizing efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030. Universal, inclusive and indivisible, the Agenda calls for action by all countries to improve the lives of people everywhere. Explore this site to find out more about the efforts of the UN and its partners to build a better world with no one left behind.

Student Resources
The materials available on this page are for adults and youth alike – a fun and engaging way to learn about the Sustainable Development Goals and what you can do to take action to make them a reality. Please download and share with your friends!

Resources on the Sustainable Development Goals: Access key resources on UNICEF and the SDGs, including tools to engage children and implementation guidance for countries

‘Go-Goals!’ SDG board game
To help teach children around the world about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a simple and child-friendly way, the UN Regional Information Centre’s staff in Brussels have launched the ‘Go-Goals!’ SDG board game, aimed principally at children aged 8-10. The game is designed as a do it yourself kit, all you need are a printer, a pair of scissors, some tape or glue, and you can start playing. Available in various languages.

The World’s Largest Lesson
(Founded by Project Everyone, in partnership with UNICEF)
The World’s Largest Lesson is global initiative aimed at bringing the SDGs to the classroom through lesson plans, videos, comics and other creative content – available freely and in a multitude of languages for educators to download, use or adapt for their classrooms.  The inspiration behind the World’s Largest Lesson is that the SDGs must be brought down to local realities if they are to succeed in changing the world for the better by 2030.


Other UN Educational Websites & Programmes

United Nations Website

Model United Nations (MUN)
Model UN simulations engage hundreds of thousands of students each year, helping them to learn more about the principles of the UN and how it functions. Many of today’s leaders in law, government, business and the arts – including at the UN itself – participated in Model UN as students.
The United Nations supports Model UN simulations by building and maintaining strong links between the UN and Model UN participants. It does this by sharing first-hand knowledge about the work of the UN at Model UN conferences; providing guidance with organizers to create accurate and authentic simulations; and encouraging Model UN clubs to take concrete action to support UN values and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Recognizing the value of Model UN simulations across the globe in engaging young people with the initiatives and goals of the UN and garnering support for international cooperation; the General Assembly adopted Resolution 77/336 on “Model United Nations”

Youth Delegate Programme
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), serves as the focal point for the UN’s work on youth. Within the Department, the Division for Inclusive Social Development, Programme on Youth Unit, coordinates the UN Youth Delegate Programme at the global level. Participation in decision-making is one of the key priority areas of the United Nations agenda on youth. One form of youth participation at the United Nations is through the inclusion of youth delegates in a country’s official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and various functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council. It is the responsibility of Member States to establish a youth delegate programme at the national level, and to decide who will represent the young people of their country at the United Nations.
The roles of a youth delegate varies from country to country, but normally includes providing input to their delegation on issues related to youth and participation in their delegation’s work, such as through attending meetings and informal negotiations.
Youth delegates can participate in several intergovernmental meetings at the United Nations. Most official youth delegates participate in the General Assembly, but some also attend functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council.

Disarmament Education: Resources for Learning (UN Office for Disarmament Affairs)
Information available: Reports of the Secretary-General; Peace and Disarmament Education Activities; Presentations & Slideshows; Publications; Podcasts; Films and Videos; Specialized Courses and Degrees; For Teachers and Students (Educational Resources, including lessons plans related to disarmament and non-proliferation for teachers and students); The UN System; Outside Resources.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme – Education Resources
The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7, with a simple and stark aim: to “mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide”. The Programme has established a global network of partners and developed versatile initiatives including educational resources, professional development programmes, panel discussions and exhibitions. The Outreach Programme is an expression of the United Nations’ commitment to countering hatred, and to building a world in which everyone can live with dignity and in peace.

Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations – Graphic Novel
Tugire Ubumwe – Let’s Unite!” is designed for a young audience and uses the example of Rwanda to promote respect for diversity and reconciliation.

International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015 – Kids and Youth
The Water Decade offers the opportunity for everyone to learn and get involved on water issues. In this section you will find different resources (games, videos, tales, etc.) that can help you to learn more about water and inspire you and those around you to take action. We also hope you will share your work with us so that we can also learn from you.


UN Funds, Programmes & Specialized Agencies

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – Children & Youth
Information available: Global Youth Biodiversity Network; Youth, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals; Join the Green Wave: One School, One Tree, One Gift to Nature!; See the Bigger Picture; Children’s Portal on Farming and Biodiversity.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Building the #ZeroHunger Generation
Building the #ZeroHunger Generation is a resources portal for teachers, parents or anyone involved in educational activities. The portal supports educators in preparing classes on important global issues at the core of FAO’s work. #ZeroHunger is built on a respect for food, for the people who produce it, for where it comes from and most importantly, for those who go without. Passing on this knowledge and mind-set to the next generation is vital for our one future of food. Together we can build the #ZeroHunger Generation!

Educational Material on Food Waste Reduction
This is a series of an educational-engaging package designed to educate young people to value food and reduce its loss. The goal is to raise awareness among school children, teachers, staff and their related families and networks on food loss and waste issues and introduce good practices conducive to food waste reduction, with an expected long-term impact.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Education and Training
The IAEA offers a wide spectrum of education and training activities. These include face-to-face training courses and workshops, as well as online learning, fellowship programmes and schools on various nuclear-related topics.

Nuclear explained – Discover IAEA’s new series of educational articles
The articles and videos on this page offer easy-to-understand explanations of major topics in nuclear science and technology. The many peaceful uses of nuclear technology have a beneficial impact on our everyday lives – from energy production and food security to health care and the protection of the environment.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) – Kids’ Zone
“All aboard the IMO kids’ zone” The kid-friendly website includes a specially-commissioned animation showing how IMO works to protect the marine environment and the atmosphere. By clicking on the colourful links, young people can learn more about IMO’s work. Topics include protecting the atmosphere; dealing with waste; clean oceans; invasive species; particularly sensitive sea areas; and protecting marine life from noise pollution.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) –  The IMF and Youth

International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Not Just Numbers: An Educational Toolkit about Migration and Asylum in Europe
“Not Just Numbers” is a toolkit about migration and asylum in the European Union produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The toolkit has been designed to help teachers and other educators engage young people in informed discussion on this important subject. It is suitable for teaching young people between the ages of 12 and 18 and is available in 24 EU Member States in 20 languages.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – Human Rights Education and Training
Human rights can only be achieved through an informed and continued demand by people for their protection. Human rights education promotes values, beliefs and attitudes that encourage all individuals to uphold their own rights and those of others. It develops an understanding of everyone’s common responsibility to make human rights a reality in each community.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) –
Education and Outreach
Enhancing understanding of the work and mandate of the OPCW through education materials for students, educators, civil society, and policymakers.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children – Child Participation
Participation is one of the four core principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As such, it is intrinsically intertwined with the other principles of non-discrimination, the right to survival and development, and the best interests of the child. The work of the Special Representative is based on a holistic and child-rights-centered approach that emphasizes the role of children as agents of change and their capacity to be equal partners in realizing their right to live free from violence.
With her strong belief in children’s agencies, child participation is one of the three strategic priorities of the Special Representative. A specific goal is to help build bridges between two key sets of stakeholders: Governments and other policymakers, and children so that the lived experiences of the latter become an integral part of all decision-making processes addressing violence against children.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Climate Box
Climate Box is a comprehensive learning toolkit that educates school children about climate change and inspires them to take action. Designed to make learning fun and interesting, the Climate Box provides up-to-date information on climate change with a range of creative tasks, games, quizzes and experiments, as well as resources for teachers/educators.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – Teaching about Refugees
This page contains a collection of UNHCR teaching materials on refugees, asylum and migration for primary and secondary education, as well as some guidance for teachers working with refugee children in the classroom.

UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)
To help educational planners to learn and / or share their knowledge, IIEP publishes thematic websites:


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – Education transforms lives
Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. It is a human right for all throughout life. The Organization is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of education. It has been entrusted to lead the Global Education 2030 Agenda through Sustainable Development Goal 4.
UNESCO provides global and regional leadership in education, strengthens education systems worldwide and responds to contemporary global challenges through education with gender equality as an underlying principle. Its work encompasses quality educational development from pre-school to higher education and beyond.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Protecting the planet is everyone’s responsibility. Get involved. Invest in a better future.
Current campaigns: Beat Pollution, Breath Life, Champions of the Earth, Clean Seas, Lead Paint, Think.Eat.Save, Wild for life, World Environment Day.

Youth, education and environment
IIEP Learning Portal
UNEP is working with major university networks and partners such as the Scout Movement and the gaming industry to support their communities of millions of young people to learn and act in support of the environment. This newly design programme also seeks to inspire the next generation of young leaders by offering them programmes to participate in, courses to learn from in addition to exploring how a new era of Green Collar Jobs for youth can be created.

Global Marine Litter Information Gateway – Kids Against Marine Litter
Several agencies and organizations working with the issue of marine litter (marine debris) offer educational material and special activities for children. The overall purpose of these efforts is to make children familiar with the marine environment, make them care about it and understand the consequences of abusing it. The educational programmes are about waste management in general and/or about marine litter in particular. A few examples of programmes and activities targeting children/students (and their teachers) are given here.

Young Champions of the Earth
Young Champions of the Earth is a forward-looking prize designed to breathe life into the ambitions of brilliant young environmentalists. Each year, six young people – one from each global region – will be named Young Champions of the Earth. These winners receive seed funding, intensive training, and tailored mentorship to help them bring their big environmental ideas to life.

Ozone Secretariat – Education Portal
The ozone layer is an invisible shield above the Earth’s surface, protecting us, and all life on earth from harmful UV radiation. In the 1980s, scientists discovered a harmful hole in the ozone layer. It was caused by chemicals and gases known as ozone depleting substances which were found in almost everything – from aerosol cans to the soles of your shoes! Scientists, policy makers and governments worked together, to control and phase out ozone depleting substances. And it worked! The hole in the ozone layer is healing, but we have to keep at it. This Education Platform has been designed as a resource for teachers to help engage their students around the ozone layer. Together, let’s work to inspire the next generation to keep protecting the ozone layer!

Ozone Secretariat – Reset Earth education platform
Reset Earth is a global campaign run by the UNEP Ozone Secretariat to educate the next generation about the dangers our world faces due to ozone depletion and what we can do to fix it. We’ve made incredible progress so far with scientists, policymakers and governments working together and taking urgent steps to control and phase out ozone-depleting substances. However, we still have a long way to go before the damage is completely undone.

United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) – #Climattitude campaign
UN Climate Change has launched a new campaign to encourage all types of climate action, no matter how big or small, on the part of citizens around the world.
A central element of the #Climattitude campaign is a fun quiz, which allows users to discover their own personal climate footprint making use of the UN carbon footprint calculator.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – Voices of Youth
Voices of Youth is UNICEF’s digital community FOR YOUTH, BY YOUTH.
Follow these steps to create an account and submit your blogs, illustrations, poems and other sparks of creativity through our website.
You can also use the hashtag #Voicesofyouth to share your content on social media.
Follow us on Instagram to discover new stories, opportunities and resources.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – Education for Justice
The Education for Justice (E4J) initiative seeks to prevent crime and promote a culture of lawfulness through education activities designed for primary, secondary and tertiary levels. These activities help educators teach the next generation to better understand and address problems that can undermine the rule of law and encourage students to actively engage in their communities and future professions in this regard. A set of products and activities for the primary and secondary levels is being developed in partnership with UNESCO.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) – Information for Students
On this page is listed all information of relevance to students, including on the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, fellowships and internships within the Office.

Universal Postal Union (UPU) – International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People
Since 1971, the UPU has encouraged young writers aged 9-15 to write letters on a given theme to win exciting prizes. The competition is an excellent way of making young people aware of the important role postal services play in our societies. It develops their skills in composition and their ability to express thoughts clearly. It also fosters enjoyment of letter writing and helps strengthen the bonds of international friendship.

World Food Programme (WFP)

Freerice: The World Food Programme’s new Youth Hub
After more than 10 years, Freerice is growing up! That’s because the World Food Programme’s popular philanthropic trivia game is more than just a fun platform for testing your knowledge and earning rice grains. Freerice is now a Youth Hub aimed at building a community of Hunger Heroes and empowering young people around the world through digital storytelling, a volunteering program, downloadable resources and more.

School feeding
WFP’s mission is to ensure that all school aged children have access to school meals and are healthy and ready to learn.

World Meteorological Organization – WMO for Youth
This website dedicated to children and teens answers frequently asked questions you may have about weather, climate and water. It is also a starting point for a better understanding of how these affect every aspect of your daily life. Information on weather, climate and water is vital for protecting our environment and for making the planet safer for us all, especially for future generations.

World Trade Organization (WTO) – Students and young professionals
Explore this page to find out more about the work of the WTO, opportunities for students and young professionals, and how trade is relevant to you and your country.


UN Observances

Fact sheets, background material and other related information resources can also be found on the website for UN observances declared by the General Assembly: https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-days-and-weeks

Following please find a selection of International Days focusing on children and youth:

24 January – International Day of Education

11 February – International Day of Women and Girls in Science

fourth Thursday of April – International Girls in ICT Day [ITU]

15 May – International Day of Families  

4 June – International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression  

12 June – World Day Against Child Labour

15 July – World Youth Skills Day

12 August – International Youth Day  

5 October – World Teachers’ Day  

11 October – International Day of the Girl Child

18 November
World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence

20 November – Universal Children’s Day

Further information is often available on the websites of UNICEF’s national committees: https://www.unicef.org/unicef-national-committees


Social Media

The UN on Social Media
This site lists the official UN Social Media accounts.

UNRIC Social Media
The UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) provides social media updates in 13 languages.


February 2024
not an official document – for information only


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