Looking back at seven decades of economic development

In October, the United Nations turned 70 and this big milestone has been celebrated throughout the year. As celebrations begin to wind down, UN DESA continues to look back on seven decades of economic,social and sustainable development. The period of strong economic growth since the Second World War was punctured by a major global financial crisis, which affected the entire planet.

The sixth of the seven short videos entitled “70 years of development in 70 seconds” looks at the world of economic development and finance.

The first decades following the Second World War saw an unprecedented economic growth throughout the world, especially in the developed countries. Technological innovation and industrial development brought significant improvements in the standard of living for large parts of the world’s population.

However, by the second half of the 20th century, that growth stalled in most of the developing world, and the economic situation deteriorated, especially in the former colonies which, after gaining independence, began to struggle with inadequate infrastructure and resources.

With its regional commissions, programmes and funds, the United Nations was instrumental in supporting the economic recovery and growth in the developing nations. Organized financing for development for those countries has been a part development efforts for decades.

The most significant turning point for development funding came in 2002, at the International Conference in Monterey, Mexico. The Monterey Consensus defined ways and means to provide financing for development. UN DESA became the main support institution for this process. In the years since the Monterrey Conference, the world has seen a major financial crisis, which significantly affected development financing.

Following the initial conference, the international community met again in Doha, Qatar, to review progress in implementing the Monterey Consensus, and then again in New York in 2009, to find a way to soften the impact of the global financial crisis. The most significant conference since the Monterey came this summer in Addis Ababa, where the participants outlined the financing of the new sustainable development agenda and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

With its analytical expertise, UN DESA has been providing expert economic forecasts in its annual publications of the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP), as well as other publications. The high quality of these publications has proven itself in several instances, accurately predicting many major economic events, such as the 2008 global financial crisis.

At the Global Summit on Sustainable Development, held at UN Headquarters in September of 2015, the UN General Assembly has adopted 17 sustainable development goals for the next 15 years. Several of these goals deal directly with economic development and financing. With the help from the United Nations, UN DESA, agencies, programmes and funds, the world has embarked on the path to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth for all.

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