United Nations University (UNU)

Founding Member
Year of foundation: 
United Nations University (UNU)


Institutional postal address: 
United Nations University Centre 5–53–70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925 Japan
Asia and The Pacific
Institutional phone: 
+81 3 5467-1212

Mission / Vision


The mission of the United Nations University is to contribute, through collaborative research and education, dissemination and advisory services, 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. In doing so, UNU pays due attention to the social sciences and the humanities as well as the natural sciences.

In pursuing this mission, UNU plays a variety of roles, including:

  • functioning as a think tank for the United Nations system and for UN Member States by providing knowledge-based policy advice
  • acting as a bridge between the United Nations and the international academic community
  • serving as a platform for global and local dialogue and creative new ideas
  • contributing to capacity development efforts, particularly in developing countries.


UNU aspires to be a world-class international research, teaching and capacity development institution that addresses the needs of present and future generations to live a life in decency, in safety, in good health and in freedom. It endeavours to provide global leadership on aspects of peace, development and sustainability — including governance, gender equality, poverty reduction, global health, climate change, natural resources, energy and new technologies — with a special emphasis on collaboration between developed and developing countries, and to serve the United Nations and its Member States with state-of-the-art research and with the accumulated knowledge in these areas.

UNU seeks to be a widely recognized international graduate teaching and research institution known for:

  • strict adherence to rigorous scientific methods and tools
  • an emphasis on providing high-quality services and outputs
  • a focus on issues that impact sustainability
  • high ethical standards combined with academic freedom and autonomy (and commensurate accountability)
  • intellectual vitality and a spirit of cooperation, collegiality and community
  • equity and openness in access to opportunities, work and outputs
  • strict adherence to the principles of gender balance
  • social responsibility and environmental sustainability in its own operations.


The UN University (UNU) will work systematically towards the realization of its vision by setting well-defined goals and taking specific measures to achieve these goals. These university-wide goals are organized into three categories:

  1. Enhancing core activities, including research, teaching and capacity 1. development, and dissemination and sharing of knowledge
  2. Strengthening communications and outreach
  3. Renewing structures and improving quality

Main activities

The overarching goal of the United Nations University is to contribute to global sustainable development — that is, development that will enable present generations of humankind to live their lives in decency, safety, good health and freedom without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. The University employs an interdisciplinary, problem-solving approach that encompasses not only the natural and physical science disciplines but also pays due attention to the insights of the social sciences and humanities.

Within the constraints of its human and financial resources, the UN University focuses on those areas in which it has the potential to make a real contribution and bring “additionality” to the effort. Among the major criteria that define the UN University’s fields of study and of teaching are:

  • the applicability and feasibility of a problem-focused, solution-oriented approach;
  • the relevance of the topic to the work and concerns of the United Nations and/or to the challenges facing the developing world;
  • the extent to which the nature and impact of the problem are global in scope, and the degree of urgency;
  • the potential for achieving practical, replicable solutions and policies; and
  • the extent of interconnectedness with other relevant issues and problems.

As outlined in the United Nations University Strategic Plan 2009–2012, the activities of the UN University are focused within five interlinked, interdependent thematic clusters:

  1. Peace, security and Human Rights
  2. Human and Socioeconomic Development and Good Governance
  3. Global Health, Population and Sustainable Livelihoods
  4. Global Change and Sustainable Development
  5. Science, Technology, Innovation and Society.

Within the scope of these five thematic clusters, the UN University undertakes:


1. Research and Study.

  • Cross-cultural, interdisciplinary research focused on the needs of practitioners, the UN and its Member States, and the developing world
  • Targeted foresight and policy studies leading to the development of policy-relevant prescriptions


2.Teaching and Capacity Development.

  • Postgraduate-level training courses and workshops, and (from autumn 2010) master’s and doctoral degree programmes
  • Assistance to developing and transitional countries for the enhancement of local human and institutional capacity


3. Knowledge Sharing and Transfer

  • The delivery of relevant scientific and best-practice information, in a timely manner and in a useful and usable form, to those who most need it and can best utilize it.


  • UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • The Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)

Sponsored by

  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry of Business and Employment. Department of Research and Universities
  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry for Foreign Action and Open Government