A key feature in the development of the global capitalist economy in the twentieth century has been the creation of a network of multilateral institutions whose primary aim has been to promote social and economic development through the provision of technical and financial assistance. A group of international financial institutions led by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created to assist financially and regulate the development programmes of less developed states, while a different set of technical institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) was founded under the auspices of the United Nations to serve a technical support function. Not surprisingly, given these remits, the multilateral institutions have focused much of their energies on the Third World, and their collective social and environmental impact in this part of the world has been immense.