Since its earliest days, the UN system has been engaged in a growing effort that has two main thrusts. The first, and most important, is supporting the vigorous drive of the world's developing countries to provide their own people with the essentials of a decent life—including adequate nutrition, housing, employment, income, education, health care, consumer goods, and public services. The second aim, which is closely related, is to help these countries increase their output of commodities, raw materials, and manufactured items, which the world increasingly needs, as well as to ensure them a fair return.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN's major arm—and the world's largest channel—for international technical cooperation for development provided on a grant basis. Working with the government of nearly every country—and with more than 30 international agencies—UNDP supports the development efforts of 175 countries and territories in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab states, and Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Under the overall framework of "sustainable human development," the programs it supports focus primarily on building national capacities to eliminate poverty, protect and regenerate the environment, create employment, and empower women. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of human life.