SDG Financing: Inaction is a greater cost for all of us

“Investment in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will cost an approximate annual investment of 6 trillion dollars annually – or 9 trillion over 15 years – but the cost of inaction will be far greater.” Peter Thomson, the President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly stated this daunting figure at the High-Level SDG Financing Lab at the UN in New York. Financing of the SDGs is a key and central theme to current global sustainable development, as well intrinsically linked to our work in CBM. It is particularly relevant at local and national levels in the areas of inclusive education, ensuring healthy lives, water and sanitation for all, gender equality, climate change, inclusive cities among other areas. Please keep reading for an update and overview on Financing for Development (FfD) processes.

Financing for Development Forum

The annual ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) was established by the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The 2017 FfD Forum will be held at the United Nations in New York from 22 to 25 May. The four-day event will feature a Special High-level Meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, WTO and UNCTAD, Ministerial round tables, general debate, thematic discussions on the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and other FfD outcomes and a dialogue with stakeholders. One of the key features of the FfD follow-up process is its multi-stakeholder approach, including civil society.

In accordance with paragraph 132 of the Addis Agenda, the annual FfD Forum results in intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations that are fed into the overall follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The outcome document is expected to be adopted at the end of the second day (end of the ministerial segment) of the FfD Forum (23 May). H.E. Mr. Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, and H.E. Mr. Jerry Matthews Matjila, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the UN are the co-facilitators for the conclusions and recommendations of the 2017 FfD Forum.

The Inter-agency Task Force

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development was convened by the Secretary-General to follow up on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and is comprised of over 50 United Nations agencies, programs and offices, regional economic commissions and other relevant international institutions.

The Addis Agenda (para 133) mandates the Task Force to:

  • Report annually on progress in implementing the Addis Agenda and other Financing for Development outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and
  • Advise the intergovernmental follow-up process on progress, implementation gaps and recommendations for corrective action, while taking into consideration the national and regional dimensions.

The IATF 2017 report addresses the above as well as:

  • A discussion of the global context and its implications,
  • an overview of each chapter of the Addis Agenda, while covering the broader set of commitments in an on-line annex, and
  • Analyses of thematic issues.

The IATF 2017 report can influence the FfD Forum outcome document and thus is an important document in which to input. The unedited draft of the IATF 2017 report was recently released. As the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) on behalf of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities we contributed to this report. Click here to read the submission. We also contributed to the IATF 2017 unedited draft report as part of the CSOs for Financing for Development (FfD) Group. Click here to read this submission.

Currently the draft report includes 9 references to persons with disabilities, including one on the first page of the Executive Summary.

References:

  • One reference in the Executive Summary (page 1) under the paragraph Increased long-term investments need to be complemented by measures to directly ameliorate the living conditions of the poor and vulnerable, such as social protection floors.
  • Two references in the section on Addressing vulnerabilities (page 28 and 29)
  • Five references, including the Washington Group on Disability Statistics, in the section on Strengthening data and statistical capacities (page 134)
  • One reference in Data gaps and challenges (Box 1, page 138) specifically on Science, technology, innovation and capacity buildingData on ICT skills and accessible technology for people with disabilities (disaggregated by gender)

High-Level SDG Financing Lab

On 18 April, the President of the General Assembly convened the High-Level SDG Financing Lab at the UN in New York. The impetus for this event was for Member States to have a dialogue one month prior to the FfD Forum. The event highlighted the critical importance of sustainable finance for the achievement of the SDGs, including climate action. It focused on how to drive the transformation to align financial markets with sustainable development and discussed ways in which Member States can approach the financing of different SDGs.

Main summary points:

  • The private sector was a core theme of the event as a key partner to achieve the SDGs, such as the role of public-private partnerships and banking systems. It was noted that there must be new and different ways to work with the private sector.
  • Public-private partnerships will vary depending on context (e.g., post-conflict versus developed countries), but the ambition needs to be clear to address those most left behind.
  • The role of technology and access to Internet were emphasized.
  • There was discussion on how to reform existing policy and regulatory frameworks to leverage public and private financing for the SDGs, and to contribute to sustainable development, including through local and regional capital markets.

Inclusion of Marginalized Groups:

  • Bangladesh, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, highlighted that marginalized groups need to be addressed and included in economic opportunities.
  • Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President for Partnerships, UN Relations and the 2030 Agenda, World Bank Group mentioned persons with disabilities in his presentation in the opening session.

Challenges:

  • Despite the above mentions, marginalized groups were not strongly included in the overall discussions, but the leave-no-one-behind principle and social inclusion were mentioned throughout the event and are areas in which the rights of persons with disabilities can be included.
  • “Park Avenue” and the UN are worlds apart, despite only being separated by a few city blocks, especially in terms of the lack of awareness and action around the SDGs in the private sector. Thus, this is a chasm that needs to be bridged.

Compelling take-away points:

  • The UN and private sector are often saying the same thing in different languages, and perhaps with increased communication and collaboration there can be better synergy.
  • Sustainability is about collaboration, not competition, and it is important to focus on the former.
  • First integrate the SDGs into national plans in which the SDGs are aligned with programs (e.g. inclusive health care and energy programs) and then the conversation with financing cannot be ignored.

I’ll end on a hopeful quote from one of yesterday’s panelists: “When a bank and UN entity are saying the same thing, we are bridging a huge gap.” – Matt Arnold, JP Morgan Chase

 

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