In 2005, 1.4 billion human beings were living on less than $1.25 a day, 900 million were hungry and 1.6 billion had no satisfactory access to basic hygiene. To combat these inequities, the United Nations works to promote and fund economic development in poor countries. When the world’s leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, they undertook to achieve the MDGs by 2015. A summit will be held in 2010 to report on progress made.
The network of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) coordinates efforts at global and national level to achieve the MDGs and helps countries define and implement their development strategies. Its operational work mainly concerns poverty reduction, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and the environment. Under its mandate to coordinate, the UNDP plays an important role in the field in encouraging coherence between the actions of the agencies present locally, in compliance with the priorities defined by the beneficiary countries. The UN Resident Coordinator, often a UNDP staff member, is a full partner for the local authorities and a team leader for implementing, with the other agencies, the actions decided on. This role has been strengthened following the proposals of the high-level panel on system-wide coherence.
The United Nations stresses the social nature of economic development, in work, education, population, human development and male-female equality.
The main objectives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are to promote compliance with international work standards, encourage the creation of decent jobs and develop social protection and dialogue. The ILO’s Summit on the Global Jobs Crisis (15-17 June 2009) pointed out the importance, at a time of international economic and financial crisis, of taking account of the social dimension of globalisation. Following the Summit, a Global Compact for employment was adopted to provide a framework and guidelines for national responses to the crisis and thereby strengthen the role of the ILO in this field.
Education has a multiplier effect on all other development indicators. Among bodies addressing education issues, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) devotes nearly 15% of its budget to education. Similarly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) monitors children’s attendance at schools providing quality teaching in cities and rural areas.
World Bank and International Monetary Fund, UN specialised institutions
The World Bank’s mission is to reduce poverty in the world and improve living standards. One of its constituent parts, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) focuses on countries able to contract loans, while the International Development Association (IDA) helps insolvent countries. Both offer very-low-interest loans, interest-free loans and grants to developing countries for a range of projects.
The World Bank often works in parallel with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was also created at the Bretton Woods Conference. The latter is tasked with ensuring the stability of the international monetary and financial system. The IMF seeks to promote economic stability, prevent crises and contribute to their solution, promote growth and reduce poverty. It monitors, assists and lends. At present the IMF is reforming the system of representation and voting rights for States.
The rapid growth of urban population is concentrating millions of poor people in shanty towns in deplorable sanitary conditions. The UN Habitat programme focuses on promoting housing for all, better management of urban services, urban poverty reduction, disaster mitigation and post-conflict recovery.
Similarly, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works for the right to health, equality of opportunity and the promotion of human development. It follows the link between population, living conditions, reproduction and access to development.
Women play a major role in economic and social development. In the developing world, they account for 50% to 80% of the production, processing and marketing of foodstuffs. The United Nations supports increasing the resources given to women and monitors the protection of their fundamental rights. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Migration and development
The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) held its first meeting in 2007 in Brussels. It is one result of the High-Level Dialogue held during the 61st session of the UNGA. It is presented as a platform for sharing practices and experiences in the fields of migration and development. It enables dialogue at global level to define appropriate means for maximising the advantages of international migration for development and minimising its negative effects.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
The IOM is not part of the United Nations system, even though it works in close cooperation with the UN. It promotes respect for human dignity in international migration by acting in the fields of migration and development, and migration whether assisted, regulated or forced. It addresses in a crosscutting manner the promotion of international migration law, health and gender in migration contexts.
Update : July 2010
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