The main objective of environmental assistance is to contribute to a sound management of the global environment and biological diversity. The following four areas are specifically given priority: development of sustainable production systems; conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; reduction of pollution of soil, air and water; and, the preservation of cultural heritage and management of the natural environment's cultural values.
Agenda 21 recommends providing technical support to developing countries on issues relating to the application of economic instruments and market mechanisms.
UN Environment Programme's Clearing-house mechanism was established in 1982 to act as a bridge between developing countries and potential donors. Through it, UNEP assists developing countries in their efforts to deal with their environmental problems and helps them find financial and technical resources they need. The Clearing-house mechanism helps these countries to formulate priority programmes and projects, and in order to do so, mobilize financial and other resources. In addition, potential donors are matched with identified projects, and links are forged between developing countries and donors. The Clearing-house mechanism has provided assistance to some 45 countries, from small individual projects to complete national plans.
UN's World Food Programme (WFP) is the largest provider of grant assistance for environmental activities in developing countries. Since its establishment, the Programme has provided more than US$5,000 million of assistance to help developing countries increase the long-term ability of the land to provide people with the basic means of existence on a sustainable basis. Activities include soil and forest conservation, among others.