United Nations University

The United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations (UN). It bridges the academic world and the UN system. Its goal is to develop sustainable solutions for current and future problems of humankind in all aspects of life. Through a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approach it aims at applied research and education on a global scale. UNU was founded in 1973 and is an autonomous organ of the UN General Assembly. The University comprises headquarters Tokyo, Japan, and more than a dozen Institutes and Programmes worldwide.


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About us

UNU-EHS, established in December 2003, is part of the United Nations University (UNU) system, a worldwide network of Research and Training Institutes. Its mission is to advance human security through knowledge-based approaches to reducing vulnerability and environmental risks.

The Institute explores problems and promotes solutions related to the environmental dimensions of human security, a concept which puts the individual, social groups and their livelihoods at the centre of debate, analysis and policy.

UNU-EHS aims at scientific excellence in two broad thematic areas:

  • Vulnerability assessment, resilience analysis, risk management and adaptation strategies within linked human-environment systems; and
  • Internal displacement and transboundary migration due to environmental push-factors.

The interdisciplinary research examines the impacts of  major drivers affecting human security, such as rapid- and gradual-onset environmental change – including climate change. The drivers include phenomena, such as floods, desertification and land degradation, water depletion and water quality deterioration, and a range of climate change impacts. The research explores ways to improve human security through vulnerability reduction, disaster risk management and adaptation strategies.

Policy Relevant Research

Research areas, such as environmentally forced migration and vulnerability and resilience assessment related to disaster risk reduction, are highly relevant to the United Nations System, the international scientific community and to political agendas. The research and its science-based approaches create opportunities to link policymakers with outstanding, applied academic research.

Goals and Objectives

The Institute spearheads UNU's research and capacity development activities in the broad interdisciplinary field of risk and vulnerabilility including knowledge-based adaptation and resilience strategies.

UNU-EHS addresses the risk and vulnerability aspects of human security and the consequences of complex environmental hazards for sustainable development. The work of UNU-EHS helps to improve the in-depth understanding of the cause-effect relationships to find ways to reduce risks and vulnerabilities. The Institute supports policymakers and decision makers with evidence-based research and information.