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Economic Development

6. Promoting Development

The United Nations has devoted its attention and resources to promoting living standards and human skills and potential throughout the world. Since 2000, this work has been guided by the Millennium Development Goals. Virtually all funds for UN development assistance come from contributions donated by countries. For instance, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with staff in 170 countries, supports more than 4,800 projects to reduce poverty, promote good governance, address crises and preserve the environment. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 150 countries, primarily on child protection, immunization, girls' education and emergency aid. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) helps developing countries make the most of their trade opportunities. The World Bank provides developing countries with loans and grants, and has supported more than 12,000 projects in more than 170 countries since 1947.

7. Alleviating Rural Poverty

Child holding breadThe International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) provides low-interest loans and grants to very poor rural people. Since 1978, IFAD has invested more than $15 billion, helping more than 430 million women and men to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and provide for their families. Currently IFAD supports more than 240 programmes and projects in 147 countries.

8. Focusing on African Development

Africa continues to be a high priority for the United Nations. In 2001, African Heads of State adopted the continent’s own plan, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, which the General Assembly endorsed in 2002 as the main framework for channelling international support to Africa. The continent receives 36 per cent of UN system expenditures for development, the largest share among the world’s regions. All UN agencies have special programmes to benefit Africa.

9. Promoting Women's Well-being

A woman in a rallyUN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women seeks to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women supports countries as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards. It stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on increasing women’s leadership and participation; ending violence against women; engaging women in all aspects of peace and security; enhancing women’s economic empowerment; and making gender equality central to national development planning and budgeting.

10. Laying the Groundwork for Business

The United Nations is good for business. It has provided the “soft infrastructure” for the global economy by negotiating universally accepted technical standards in such diverse areas as statistics, trade law, customs procedures, intellectual property, aviation, shipping and telecommunications, facilitating economic activity and reducing transaction costs. It has laid the groundwork for investment in developing economies by promoting stability and good governance, battling corruption and urging sound economic policies and business-friendly legislation.

11. Supporting Industry

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) serves as a “matchmaker” for North-South and South-South industrial cooperation, promoting entrepreneurship, investment, technology transfer and cost-effective and sustainable industrial development. It helps countries to manage the process of globalization smoothly and to reduce poverty.

12. Fighting Hunger

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) leads global efforts to defeat hunger. The goal of universal food security —where people everywhere have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives—is at the heart of its work. FAO acts as a neutral forum, where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO also helps developing countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices in ways that conserve natural resources and improve nutrition.

13. Improving Global Trade

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has helped developing countries to negotiate trade agreements and win preferential treatment for their exports. It has negotiated international commodity agreements to ensure fair prices for developing countries, improved the efficiency of their trade infrastructure and helped them to diversify their production and to integrate into the global economy.

Improving Global Trade Relations

14. Promoting Economic Reform

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have helped many countries to improve their economic management, provided temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance-of-payment difficulties and offered training for government finance officials.

15. Improving Aviation and Shipping

UN agencies have been responsible for setting standards for aviation and shipping. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has contributed to making air travel the safest mode of transportation. In 1947, when 21 million travelled by air, 590 were killed in aircraft accidents; in 2013, the number of deaths was 173 out of 3.1 billion airline passengers. Likewise, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has helped to make the seas cleaner and shipping safer and more secure. Statistics show that shipping is becoming safer and is improving its environmental credentials. Ship losses are falling, fatalities are decreasing, pollution incidents are down, total oil pollution is down, and air pollution and pollution from sewage are being tackled-all while the amount of cargo carried by sea continues to increase.

16. Generating Worldwide Commitment in Support of Children

From Afghanistan to Lebanon and from the Sudan to the former Yugoslavia, UNICEF has pioneered the establishment of “days of tranquillity” and the opening of “corridors of peace” to provide vaccines and other aid desperately needed by children caught in armed conflict. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has become law in nearly all countries. Following the 2002 UN special session on children, 190 Governments committed themselves to a time-bound set of goals in the areas of health, education, protection against abuse, exploitation and violence and the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

17. Turning Slums into Decent Human Settlements

Cities are now home to half of humankind. They are the hub for much national production and consumption—economic and social processes that generate wealth and opportunity. But they also are places of disease, crime, pollution and poverty. In many cities in developing countries, slum-dwellers number more than 50 per cent of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water and sanitation. The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), with nearly 100 programmes and projects in some 60 countries, seeks innovative solutions for towns and cities. These include providing security of tenure for the urban poor, which is in turn a catalyst for investment in housing and basic services for the poor.

18. Providing Local Access to a Global Network

Providing Local Access to a Global Network The Universal Postal Union (UPU) facilitates the exchange of international mail and develops social, cultural and commercial communications between peoples and businesses with up-to-date postal services and products. The world's 640,000 post offices form one of the most extensive global networks, facilitating the transfer of information, goods and money. The Internet and new technologies have opened new opportunities for postal services, especially in the area of e-commerce and online shopping. Postal services remain a critical bridge between physical, digital and financial operations and are a key partner for global development.

19. Improving Global Telecommunications

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) brings together Governments and industry to develop and coordinate the operation of global telecommunication networks and services. It has coordinated shared use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and negotiated the global standards that ensure the seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband Internet to the latest-generation wireless technologies, from air and sea navigation to radio astronomy and satellite-based meteorology, from phone services to TV broadcasting and next-generation networks, ITU is committed to connecting the world. Its work has helped telecommunications to grow into a $2.1 trillion global industry.