How is the United Nations funded?
Funding instruments

Earmarked funding, which is tied to specific projects, themes or locations, amounted to US$ 38.8 billion in 2020. While voluntary, such contributions are restricted in terms of how they can be used by the UN. The figure illustrates how the four main financing instruments (assessed contributions, voluntary core contributions, earmarked contributions, and revenue from other activities) have evolved in the period 2010–20. Predictable and flexible funding increases the UN’s ability to work efficiently and adjust its support in times of crisis.

62% of UN funding was earmarked in 2020
Figure 2
Distribution of total UN system funding by financing instrument, 2010–2020 (US$ billion)

Source: Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)

How UN entities are funded depends not only on their mandates but on the preferences and regulatory frameworks of those who fund them. Funding types have varying degrees of flexibility and predictability, which in turn impacts the UN’s ability to perform its functions.

Assessed contributions were 22% of UN funding in 2020
Figure 4
Contributions to select UN entities, 2015–2021 (US$ billion)

* In accordance with IPSAS, cash flows reported to CEB as revenue reflect the full value of funding agreements when signed. Certain UN entities provide information on contributions aligned with past cash revenue recognition policies.

Source: Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)