In addition to the IMF and World Bank, the United Nations and other NGOs have several other initiatives to facilitate economic development. Many of these have evolved in the last 25 years in response to significant changes in the global economy following the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Monterrey Conference of 2002
An example of this shift was the Monterrey Conference of 2002. Recognizing the ascendancy of multinational corporations as significant actors in the global economy, the conference, for the first time in UN history, included not only state actors, but members of the civil society, business community, and other institutional stakeholders to address five fundamental 21st Century economic concerns:
• Mobilizing domestic resources for development
• The role of foreign direct investment
• The impact of international trade on development
• Official development assistance
• Debt relief and international financial systems
Attending in Monterrey included the UN, IMF, WTO, World Bank, and over 80 heads of state and 200+ other national representatives and nearly 800 in total. Monterrey was the “Monterrey Consensus,” which states a goal for gender-sensitive and people-centered development goals for the 21st Century. While the wealthier attendees committed to increased aid to the developing world, the poorer countries were called on to:
• Further liberalize their economies
• Subscribe wholesale to the policies prescribed by the WTO and the World Bank
• Improve good governance as a way towards prosperity
The Monterrey Conference set a vision for the new century for development and collaboration but lacked actionable steps or timelines.
UN Millennium Development Goals of 2000
In 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) to set a path forward for the 21st Century. Bringing together many of the forces that swung radically between the 1960s and the 1990s, the MDG’s attempted to balance the rising forces of capitalism and globalism with environmental and human rights goals. The resolution set forth eight goals with measurable objectives. The eight goals are:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education. Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005 and at all levels by 2015.
4. Reduce child mortality. Reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate among children under five.
5. Improve maternal health. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse the loss of environmental resources. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. Achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
8. Develop a global partnership for development. Develop an open trading and financial system that is rules-based, predictable, and non-discriminatory, including a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction – nationally and internationally. Address the least developed countries’ special needs. This includes tariff- and quota-free access for their exports; enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted emerging countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction. Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States. Deal comprehensively with developing countries’ debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term. In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decent and productive work for youth. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries. Cooperation with the private sector makes available the benefits of new technologies – especially information and communications technologies.
While much progress has been made, many of the goals set for 2015 have not been met, and additional assistance will be needed to help the poorest countries achieve these goals.
Other UN Agencies
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 to help achieve a balance between trade and development. UNCTAD focuses on the areas of investment, finance, technology, enterprise development, and sustainable development. UNCTAD focuses on assisting developing companies in moving into the mainstream. UNCTAD serves as a forum for discussions in trade and development matters, conducts research and policy analysis, provides this information for the use of members, and provides technical assistance to developing countries on trade and development matters. The Doha mandate in 2012 reiterated the role of UNCTAD as the primary focal point for the UN in the areas of trade and development – including finance, technology, and sustainability.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) provides technical assistance to countries with developing local intellectual and economic capacity, promoting the rule of law and democracy, empowering women and other historically oppressed members of society, and promoting sustainable development. The UNDP is focused on driving the MDG’s into effect through a focus on democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and environmental factors, and disease eradication – including HIV/AIDS and malaria. The UNDP also publishes an annual human development report that measures progress against these goals.
Regional Development Banks
In response to the US/Western dominance of the World Bank, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have looked at developing their own development bank. Additionally, there are regional development banks on almost every continent and even sub-regional in nature. Serving a similar role to the World Bank, but often without the conditionality attached to the loans, these banks focus on developing in many of the same areas.