Global Agencies



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Bank The World Bank

OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development

WTO World Trade Organisation

UNEP UN Environment Programme

UNDP UN Development Programme

WHO World Health Organisation

FAO Food & Agriculture Organisation


The World Bank

Including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, July 1944, founded the Bretton Woods Institute. The original purpose of the group was to establish a body to deal with monetary and financial problems for political stability and peace, specifically with war effected Western European nations in mind.

The World Bank has now modified its objectives to focus on the reduction of poverty. This is achieved through private-led development funding. The intention being to create new partnerships with groups within civil-society, in addition to traditional government partners. The WB Group is divided into a number of bodies covering International Development, International Finance and Multilateral Investment Guarantee.

This structure provides funding and loans for countries at varying levels of development, and between public and private sources. The overseeing authority is the Board of Governors, consisting of one governor from each member country, who meet annually. More recently the bank has been working to integrate growing environmental concerns more fully into its activities. This is particularly so in regards to urban growth and declining rural sectors. The bank holds annual Environmentally Sustainable Development Conferences to define this emerging issue.

The Bank has an NGO Unit as its central source of NGO-related information, expertise & outreach.  The Units main functions include the following:

    Facilitating collaboration with NGOs in project design and consultation with stakeholders.

    Monitoring bank/NGO collaboration and documenting lessons learned.

    Helping operational staff foster a more positive policy environment for NGOs in developing countries.

In support of these activities the Unit manages an NGO Profile Database, which contains information on over 10,000 NGO's.  Contact details are available to bank staff, other NGO's and other interested parties on request.

For further information on the World Bank please refer to:

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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with a central location in Paris, acts as an intergovernmental forum on economic development. Within this forum Member States (29 in all) seek, discuss, and compare solutions to the many issues surrounding economic development including: the environment, sustainable development, tourism, developing nations, etc. The forum both advises its members on certain policies to adopt and helps to set international agreements and legal codes surrounding economic development. The main aims of the OECD include: the promotion and achievement of sustainable economic growth within its member’s states while also aiding in world economic development; promotion of economic expansion in Member and Non-member states; and contributing to the expansion of world trade on a multi-lateral, non-discriminatory basis.

The forum was founded after W.W.II as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). It was established as a result of the US Marshall plan that was instituted in order to help reconstruct the economies in Western Europe after the war. In 1961, the US and Canada joined and, in turn, the forum became the OECD. Since the addition of these North American countries a series of members from Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Central America have joined; thus further internationalising the ‘new’ economies of Western Europe.

Project focuses of the OECD consist of, but are not limited to: tourism, education, sustainable development, strategies for developing nations, etc. Current projects of the OECD on the subject of sustainable development are concentrating on research in the specific areas of climate change, technological development, environmental impact of subsidies, etc. This is all being done in preparation for a Ministerial Council meeting in 2001.

For further information on OECD please refer to:

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World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The World Trade Organisation, with a central location in Geneva, is the only international body that deals with the rules of trade between nations world-wide. The nexus of the WTO are the agreements it has established which represent the foundations for policies on international trade and commerce. The agreements are the foundation of the multi-lateral trading system and are concerned with helping trade flow freely, the achievement of trade liberalisation through negotiation, and the settling disputes concerned with trade. The main aims of the WTO include: working as a forum for trade negotiations; administrating the agreements; monitoring national trade policy; co-operating with other international organisations; and providing technical assistance and training for developing countries.

The creation of the WTO in 1995 represented the biggest international trade reform since the establishment of the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Before ‘95, GATT set the tone for world trade with a limited field of action. By the 1980s GATT was becoming outdated; trade had become more complex and the loopholes in it were being exploited. When the 1990s rolled around globalisation was increasing dramatically along with international inventory expansion. In the Uruguay Roundtable of 1995 these issues were confronted and the WTO was formed to replace GATT with increasing effectiveness.

Current projects of the WTO are focused around the research and analysis of various topics dealing with trade and more recently globalisation including, but not limited to: the environment, trade liberalisation and sustainable development, banking, and education. The rapidly developing globalised economy and the impact of the Internet have been a main concern of the WTO in more recent reports.

For further information on WTO please refer to:

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United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The principal outcome of the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment was the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme. Providing an integrative and interactive mechanism through which a large number of separate efforts by intergovernmental, non-governmental, national and regional bodies in the service of the environment are reinforced and interrelated. UNEP advocated a concept of environmentally sound development, which later led to the adoption of Sustainable Development, paving the way for the Programmes integrated approach through all sectors.

The primary challenge for UNEP is to ‘...further catalyse, promote and implement an environmental agenda that is integrated strategically with the goals of economic development and social well being - an agenda for sustainable development’. UNEP’s functions for achieving this focus around the promotion of environmental science and information. This facilitates a process of raising awareness on emerging environmental problems within an organisation which has the structure and direction to address them.

UNEP’s activities have included work on the following:

Sustainable management and use of natural resources, including focussing on: water security in Africa, regional seas programmes and the protection of the marine environment from human activities; Global bio-diversity assessments; Depletion of forests; Wildlife conservation; Climate and Desertifcation; Sustainable Consumption & Production, including: cleaner production; green technologies, ecotourism; Human health & well-being; Globalisation of the economy and the environment.

UNEP has also supported a number of conventions, treaties and protocols which have facilitated work on emerging issues. These include Ozone, Climate, Endangered species (CITES), Hazardous wastes (Basel).

In addition the Programme has produced reports on the State of the Environment, Indicators of Sustainable Development and World Resources. To support this UNEP co-ordinates network programmes including Environmental & Natural Resource Information Networking and Infoterra. These are designed to facilitate global networks for environmental information sharing.

For further information on UNEP please refer to:

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United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP has offices in 134 countries and operates in 174 countries and territories. The focus of their activities include; poverty eradication; environmental regeneration; job creation and the advancement of women. UNDP provides direct assistance to these countries by promoting sound governance and market development. The overarching mission being to help countries build national capacity to achieve sustainable human development, with priority given to eliminating poverty and building equity.

UNDP works closely with NGOs, specialised UN agencies and research institutes in implementing its programmes. In addition to these regular programmes, UNDP facilitates a number of special-purpose funds on specific issues which it addresses to further its objectives. These include issues relating to desertification, drought, volunteers and women. Joint with the World Bank and UNEP, UNDP is a managing partner of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This fund enables countries to translate global concerns into national action on issues including; ozone depletion, global warming, loss of bio-diversity, and pollution of international waters.

In helping Southern developing nations to help themselves, UNDP promotes technology transfer from North to South, and draws on experience from around the world. It also promotes technology adaptation and exchange of experience between developing nations. The Programme is funded on a voluntary basis in undertaking its activities, and receives contributions for this work from nearly every country in the world.

For further information on UNDP please refer to:

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World Health Organisation (WHO)

The World Health Organisation was established in 1948 with the objective of ‘the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.’ This was re-affirmed in 1977 when WHO set their main social target of governments and WHO itself, should be ‘the attainment by all peoples of a level of health that allows them to lead a socially and economically productive life by the year 2000.

In support of its broader objectives, WHO undertakes functions including; directing international health work; promoting technical co-operation; assisting governments in strengthening their health services; furnishing technical assistance; stimulating work on the prevention and control of epidemic diseases; promoting the improvement of nutrition, sanitation, economic & working conditions and other areas of environmental hygiene; promoting teaching & training standards in health & medical and related professions; establishing & stimulating the establishment of international standards; fostering activities in the field of mental health.

With its headquarters in Geneva, the WHO is largely decentralised with 6 regional satellite organisations. These are located in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Western Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific. Each regional committee formulates policy on regional matters and monitors regional activities.

For further information on the Organisation please refer to:

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Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

Established in 1945 the FAO is the largest of the UN specialised agencies. Its base objectives are; in raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the member states; securing improvements in the efficiency and production of all food and agriculture products; bettering the conditions of rural populations; and contributing toward an expanding world economy whilst ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger.

FAO undertakes 4 main functions as the leading international body for food & agriculture, which are; providing technical advice and assistance; collecting and analysing and disseminating information on the issues it addresses; offering independent advice to governments on agriculture policy; and to provide a neutral forum where governments, international organisations and NGOs can meet to discuss food and agriculture issues. Specific issues the organisation is actively involved in include: food security, agriculture, crops, sustainable rural development, nutrition, fisheries, forestry, investment and environment and development.

The Organisation hosts a bi-annual conferences, attended by its members (174 nations, the EU & one associate) as the main mechanism by which it reviews its work programmes and sets its future policy and programme of work. Committees on finance, programme & constitution, fisheries, forestry, agriculture and world food security report to FAO’s Council, which oversees the organisation's work in progress. These committees meet to discuss their own issue regularly and are open to member states as well as observers from IGOs and NGOs.

In non-conference years there are regional meetings held in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and the near East. In addition the FAO is affiliated to a number of Inter-governmental and Expert Bodies both globally and regionally to strengthen its structure and activities.

For further information on the UN FAO please contact:


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