Global Commitment to Multilateral Agreements Key towards Achieving Sustainability, Says Secretary-General, Opening Forum on Financing for Development Follow-Up
With billions of lives hanging in the balance, the next phase of development depended on the international community’s commitment to build on recent multilateral agreements and put the world on a sustainable path, stressed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the Economic and Social Council opened its inaugural forum on financing for development follow-up today.
“Now is the time for smart investments in people and the planet,” he said, calling on States, United Nations entities and other stakeholders to sustain the political momentum that had led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015.
While those agreements were triumphs of multilateralism, he said, the time for implementation was now. The Addis Agenda, in particular, provided a full range of actions to realign financial flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities. The global response to the 2030 Agenda must match the scope of the challenge, which meant tapping into the potential of all actors to achieve the transformation that was needed.
Opening the meeting, Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the launch of the forum marked a new chapter in the organ’s history. Mandated by the Addis Agenda, the Council served as a platform for policy dialogue on financing for development follow-up. Among other things, it was tasked to assess progress, identify challenges and facilitate the delivery of the means of implementation of sustainable development.
High-level speakers throughout the meeting agreed with the Secretary-General that implementation would be the true test of the international community’s commitment to achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda. The heads of a number of United Nations departments and agencies described their contributions to those ends.
“We can all do something, wherever we have expertise,” said Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who spoke via video link. Echoing calls from other speakers for concerted action that was tailored to the needs of countries and their people, she described work being done by the Fund in areas including macroeconomic policy, taxation, climate change and inclusive growth. On the latter, for example, spending on the education of young people could deliver the biggest development gains.
Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that while monitoring the implementation of sustainable development commitments would be a complex exercise, the forum could support the process with adequate planning. For its part, UNDP could showcase a wide range of innovative approaches, from green financing to impact investing, and would continue to provide a platform for Member States to share their ideas, technologies and capacities.
Other speakers pointed to current global challenges, including slow economic growth and massive waves of forced migration, as hurdles to be overcome by concerted action and innovative development financing.
“We have started off on a bumpy ride” to realize the efforts of the 2030 Agenda, said Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Flows of foreign direct investment to sub-Saharan Africa had declined and there was limited positive recovery in trade. Meanwhile, official development assistance (ODA) was at a standstill, he said, calling for “repurposed” international institutions, refocused expertise and more coherent action.
As the forum began its general debate, ministers and other high-ranking officials from Governments around the globe underscored the important role of the meeting, as well as the Addis Agenda itself, in financing the next era of sustainable development. Many called for increased capacity-building and the creation of enabling environments to assist developing countries in achieving the aims of the 2030 Agenda.
Unfair trade rules were only one obstacle to sustainable development, said the representative of Uganda, speaking on behalf of the African Group. Others included inadequate resources exacerbated by illicit financial flows and unmet official development assistance commitments. Highlighting the importance of national ownership in sustainable development, he said the Group was committed to take the lead in formulating policies that would facilitate the integration of the Addis Agenda and the 2030 Agenda into its national plans and priorities.
“It doesn’t matter how much money we spend, if we spend it on the wrong things,” said Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden. Countries, institutions and the private sector must work together to deliver the resources needed for climate finance, she said, adding that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would be necessary given the linkages between women’s economic participation and increased growth.
In the afternoon, the Forum held an interactive dialogue with intergovernmental bodies of major institutional stakeholders on the theme “Fostering policy coherence in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda”.
Also addressing the forum this morning were Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO); Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President for the 2030 Development Agenda, World Bank Group; Bambang Brodjonegoro (Indonesia), Chairman, IMF/World Bank Development Committee; Alfredo Suescum (Panama), President, Trade and Development Board, UNCTAD; Calvin McDonald, Deputy Secretary of IMF and Acting Secretary of the International Monetary and Financial Committee; Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development; and Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
Participating in the general debate were the representatives of the European Union, Guatemala, Panama, Netherlands, Iran, Thailand (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Honduras (on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries), Mexico, Denmark, Philippines, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Italy, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 19 April, to continue its work.
OH JOON (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the launch of the forum on financing for development marked a new chapter in the organ’s history. It was mandated to enable an integrated follow-up to financing for development outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In that process, the international community was advancing on the solid ground laid out by the predecessors. The Monterrey and Doha Conferences had generated a strong momentum in advancing financing for development issues among Member States, major institutional stakeholders and others.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda envisaged a forum with unique functions, he continued. The forum served as a primary platform for policy dialogue on financing for development follow-up. It was tasked to assess progress, identify challenges and facilitate the delivery of the means of implementation. It was also expected to promote sharing of lessons learned at the national and regional levels, while addressing new and emerging topics. Furthermore, it provided a platform for concrete action. He stressed that the international community would come up with intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations to guide the implementation of the Action Agenda. Among other things, the forum enabled broad engagement by relevant stakeholders, as well as Member States, carrying out its work in accordance with a strong evidence-based approach.
Highlighting areas vital to a successful forum, he called upon all to align the incentives and actions with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Action Agenda. “The enhanced engagement with major institutional stakeholders will play a critical role in moving forward,” he noted. Further, the interlinkages and coherence among intergovernmental processes must be strengthened. As the forum would conduct a review for the 2030 Agenda, relevant intergovernmental processes should be closely coordinated in order to avoid duplication of discussions.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, together with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, were triumphs of multilateralism. “These are historic agreements to eradicate poverty, build resilient societies, address climate change and put the world on a sustainable development path,” he said, stressing that the international community had the collective responsibility to turn those landmark agreements into tangible actions. “The time for implementation is now”, he added.
While mobilizing the trillions of dollars needed annually to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals would be a significant challenge, it was not insurmountable, he continued. Global public and private savings and investment would be sufficient, but only if aligned with sustainable development. The Addis Agenda provided a full range of actions to realign financial flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities. “We must sustain our political momentum and build on the unprecedented collaboration of recent years,” he said in that respect, stressing that the global response to the 2030 Agenda must match the scope of the challenge. That meant tapping the potential of all actors to achieve the large-scale transformation that was needed.
“Now is the time for smart investments in people and the planet, where they are needed, when they are needed and at the scale they are needed,” he said. With 2.4 billion people lacking clean water and sanitation, 57 million children not enrolled in school and more than half the world’s population lacking any social security coverage, billions of lives depended on the international community’s commitment to follow through on the new “social compact” enshrined in the Addis Agenda. The private sector must be an active partner, in particular in areas such as the provision of urgently needed social goods, he said, adding that the growing importance of South-South cooperation must also be recognized.
Indeed, he said, “the United Nations must be a forum where leadership and strategic collaboration among very different actors can transform our development model”. Developing countries hosting large numbers of refugees should have access to concessional loans, and stronger commitments to humanitarian financing and for actions to deliver on the Paris Agreement were also needed. Stressing that implementation would be the test of the international community’s commitment, he said the Inter-Agency Task Force, which he had convened in 2015, would report annually on progress in implementing the financing for development outcomes of the 2030 Agenda.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaking via videolink, described work being undertaken by the Fund in areas including macroeconomic policy, taxation, climate change and inclusive growth. Noting that the Fund advised countries in promoting macroeconomic stability, she said that sovereign nations should levy and collect taxes in order to be as stable as possible. Together with the World Bank, it was focusing on delivering services on the ground in developing countries to improve tax frameworks and collect more revenue. Technical assistance in the area of taxation was being tailored in order to assist with domestic revenue collection in countries that needed it most.
On climate change, she said that the Fund worked on subsidy removal and providing technical assistance on carbon. In the area of inclusive growth, spending on the education of young people, especially girls, could deliver the biggest development gains. “We can all do something, wherever we have expertise,” but work needed to be targeted and customized in order to be useful to countries and their people, she said.
ROBERTO AZEVÊDO, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), noted that the forum would ensure coherence efforts for financing for development outcomes. It would also follow up on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, identifying obstacles and opportunities. Drawing attention to the Secretary-General’s report on the topic, he stressed that it gave a glimpse of enormous tasks ahead.
Given the complexity of achieving both the 2030 Agenda and the Action Agenda, the WTO would continue to do its part for their successful implementation. As trade was the enabler of development, Member States had started discussing the future of the WTO to deliver better results. Remaining work was to eliminate all restrictions in trade and ensure the least develop countries’ integration to the global economy.
MAHMOUD MOHIELDIN, Senior Vice-President for the 2030 Development Agenda, World Bank Group, said that, since the third International Conference on Financing for Development, historical agreements had been made. Without good evidence and data, skilful delivery and adequate financing, ambitious programmes might not be achieved. Furthermore, without translating those agendas into national plans, it would not be possible to move forward.
It was proven that even if the global community delivered on their commitments, it would not be sufficient to fully achieve the universally agreed goals, he continued. The mobilization of resources would be required for the successful implementation the Sustainable Development Goals. Acknowledging the reality of international migration, he noted that the Development Committee had addressed the issue for the first time. Further, the World Bank and the United Nations had identified areas where cooperation was needed, including in data- and evidence-sharing, joint engagement in the field, innovative financing instruments and risk assessment.
TOFERRY PRIMANDA SOETIKNO (Indonesia), Chairman, IMF/World Bank Development Committee, provided an overview of the recent meeting of the Development Committee. Members had noted that global growth had continued to disappoint in 2016, and substantial risks — including softening trade and low oil and commodity prices — remained. Members were encouraged to note progress on the “Forward Look” exercise, which aimed to ensure the Bank remained responsive to the diverse needs of clients, continued to be a global leader on knowledge, partnered effectively with the private sector, became a more agile development partner and adapted its business model accordingly. Members had raised concerns about situations of fragility and conflict, and had called on the Fund and Bank to step up efforts on financing for development.
Inclusive job creation was central to sharing prosperity, and Governors at the meeting had encouraged the Fund and the Bank to assist to those ends, he said. They urged that international financial institutions and other partners help countries to undertake the reforms needed for an environment conducive to sustainable development. Members had further urged the IMF and the Bank to become more responsive through strengthened operational capacity in developing countries, as well as through innovative financing and resourcing. Members had stressed the importance of pandemic prevention and encouraged the fostering of a new market for pandemic risk management insurance. Describing the Bank’s climate change strategy, he said the poor and vulnerable were the most exposed to climate change risks, and called on the Fund and Bank to include resilience and preparedness in their work.
ALFREDO SUESCUM (Panama), President, Trade and Development Board, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the theme of the intergovernmental body’s July meeting to be held in Nairobi — “From decision to action: moving towards an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development” — spoke to the need to implement the various agreements on development in order to put development on a stronger footing. UNCTAD continued to be an important institutional stakeholder in the financing for development process and the 2030 Agenda. Calling on partners to help maximize synergies and complementarities to harness the United Nations system in the service of development, he said that UNCTAD could serve as an incubator of ideas on the various development processes. Possible areas of focus included the revitalization of the multilateral trading system and “taking a hard look” at the current set of international investment agreements.
In that regard, he said, sovereign debt crises could set back socioeconomic development progress by a decade or more, and their recurrence could put an end to the Sustainable Development Goal timeline before it even began. Processes for restricting sovereign debt while taking into account a country’s specific situation could be examined. Another source of concern was the current pace and coverage of WTO negotiations. UNCTAD was a useful forum for brainstorming on how to improve that process. On the issue of international investment agreements, it was clear that many were dissatisfied with current bilateral and regional agreements. There were calls for those agreements to be re-examined to better support sustainable development. The Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly and other relevant stakeholders should produce a robust follow-up process, he said, noting that UNCTAD was already engaged in such a process.
CALVIN MCDONALD, Deputy Secretary of IMF and Acting Secretary of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, noted that the Organization remained alert for current challenges. Member States had endorsed the Managing Director’s agenda in order to go forward. Regarding global economy, he said that recovery had weakened. In developed countries, recovery was more moderate than expected, with a low potential of growth. On the emerging markets, China had continued to have a balanced sustainable economic model, while the Russian Federation and Brazil were experiencing downturns. In addition, financial market volatility was on the rise due to increased terrorist incidents, international migration crisis and corruption.
The international community must take decisive action, he continued. Underscoring the need to undertake tailored approaches for different countries, he stressed that global cooperation was critical to overcome global challenges. For its part, the Fund would continue to support its members through policy advice and technical assistance. Last week, he said, Nauru had joined the IMF as the 189th member. Currently, the Fund had 38 ongoing active programmes, 11 of which focused on fragile States. Further, it would continue to provide policy analysis on structural reforms and macroeconomic performance.
HELEN CLARK, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Chair of the United Nations Development Group, said that Member States in July 2015 had agreed on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, calling for effective deployment of financing for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. While monitoring was going to be a complex exercise, the forum could support the process with adequate planning. For its part, UNDP could showcase a wide range of innovative approaches, from green financing to impact investing. Furthermore, the Organization could establish key partnerships with Governments to build strong national ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals. Among other things, UNDP would continue to provide a forum for Member States to share their ideas, technologies and capacities.
WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, said States were gathered for the first time to take stock of progress in the implementation of the Addis Agenda. Presenting the inaugural report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, he said more than 50 United Nations agencies, programmes, offices and other relevant institutions had contributed to its production. The Task Force set two tasks for its report: first, to map out the commitments and actions in the Addis Agenda, including their relationship to the means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; and second, to present the monitoring framework and data sources that would allow for monitoring of progress. The report contained more than 100 thematic clusters, each of which contained a number of action items. Under each group, the Task Force presented the best currently available sources of data, and a discussion of qualitative and contextual analysis and case studies. The clusters also highlighted where the means of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal targets were integrated in the broader financing framework.
Noting that the Task Force would not add to the already significant reporting burden of countries, he said additional data and information would be drawn from existing resources. Nevertheless, there were areas that would be best informed by country reporting. Describing three final observations, he said there had been a changing global environment that impacted on the implementation of the global agenda. That fact called for flexibility in the follow-up process, he stressed, adding that the Task Force was well-placed to provide analysis on the wide range of economic, financial and trade issues. Second, the comprehensive nature of the financing for development outcomes made it challenging to provide full reporting within the confines of a report, particularly because of the complexity of the issues. Future reports would contain a brief discussion of the global context and its implications and a discussion of specific hematic issues if requested. Meanwhile, commitments and actions related to national Sustainable Development Goal commitments were best reported on a national level.
MUKHISA KITUYI, Secretary-General, UNCTAD, said “we have started off on a bumpy ride” to realize the efforts of the 2030 Agenda due to slow global growth and the substantial resource reallocation occasioned by forced migration. There was an anticipation of substantial resource flows from foreign direct investment (FDI) in filling the gaps of financing. However, to date, there was a rather pessimistic picture in that regard. FDI flows to sub-Saharan Africa had declined, and there was limited positive recovery in trade globally, in particular in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Those trends impacted the ability of Governments to rally resources at home and to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
Official development assistance (ODA) flows were at a standstill, he went on, describing a paradox relationship between forced migration mitigation and support to developing countries. A critical balancing act was necessary in that regard. Other global challenges included how to deal with illicit capital flows and tax evasion. The United Nations system should repurpose institutions, refocus expertise and take more coherent action. While there was a need to focus on monitoring, big data and sound statistics, the international community could not lose sight of the fact that good monitoring was secondary to implementation.
SHAMSHAD AKHTAR, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said that domestic resource mobilization was of significance for Member States across all five United Nations regional commissions. Gaps in infrastructure financing was also a priority, which in Africa was estimated to be around $100 billion and in Asia and the Pacific, around $1 trillion. It was important to promote sound macroprudential policy framework and tools to deal with financial vulnerabilities, while rising corporate and household debt called for better debt sustainability management. Illicit financial flows were of concern and a global partnership needed to be established for countries with special needs.
In Africa, home to 34 least developed countries, there was a focus on channelling finance to build regional productive capacities and infrastructure, while managing the impact of external shocks, she said. Despite Asia and the Pacific driving global growth, public finance remained underexploited, financial markets lacked diversification and 33 countries with special needs were overly dependent on ODA. In Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasis was being placed on promoting inclusive financial systems. Transitional economies were developing laws, policy frameworks and institutions to better leverage infrastructure finance in Europe, while western Asia was calling for significant new resources to be raised for reconstruction and developing in conflict-affected countries. In all cases, scaling up ODA to all Member States that suffered from challenging locations as well as income and environmental vulnerabilities, would be critical.
NEVEN MIMICA, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Union, underscored the need to follow up on the Addis Ababa Conference and the means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In that regard, the forum’s work would be instrumental, he said, adding that it would set a range of means, including domestic and international, public and private to support the 2030 Agenda. While the Addis Agenda had rightly placed domestic resource mobilization at the heart of the bloc’s agenda, it stood ready to do its part for sustainable development.
Stressing that the Union was the largest provider of ODA, he noted that €68 billion had been allocated only in 2015. As an important tool to finance universally agreed goals, development assistance had a catalytic effect in addressing various challenges, including climate change, human rights violations and international migration. On the concrete contributions of domestic policies, he said that countries had already started reducing their gas emissions.
ISABELLA LÖVIN, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden, said that the fulfilment of the Addis Agenda and Agenda 2030 was not only about quantity, but also an issue of quality. Resources must be used in the best possible way, while of equal importance, was the issue of sound policies and coherence. “It doesn’t matter how much money we spend, if we spend it on the wrong things,” she stressed. No country had ever managed to create sustainable economic and social development without a proper system of taxation. Countries, institutions and the private sector must work together to deliver the resources needed for climate finance. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would be absolutely necessary given the linkages between women’s economic participation and increased growth. ODA had an important role to play, and in that regard, Sweden had pledged 1 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to such aid.
MIGUEL ÁNGEL MOIR, Minister for Planning of Guatemala, said that, during the time of the Millennium Development Goals, ODA had been focused on the least developed countries, and assistance had largely set aside the needs of middle-income countries, such as his own. Now, during the time of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, there was a need to recognize such factors as national vulnerability and inequality. Noting that those challenges required more robust cooperation, he called for a “multidimensional” approach to poverty reduction. His country was working to eradicate poverty in line with the Addis Agenda, he said, stressing the need for international aid to do the same. In addition, binding conditions were needed to support the demands of States and the needs of the Addis Agenda to mobilize resources, including through the private sector and South-South cooperation.
IVAN ZARAK, Vice-Minister for Economy of Panama, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that his country had recently made international headlines concerning global governance and financial transparency, one of the Addis Agenda’s cornerstone issues. The unjustly called “Panama Papers” were not about a single country’s problem, but rather, larger global issues. Panama had shown great resolve in addressing the issue of money-laundering and terrorist financing, however, the transparency of the global financial system must be strengthened. More work needed to be done to eliminate tax evasion and money-laundering as a threat to international stability and development, which risked impairing cooperation among countries. The only way to effectively address the issues hindering the global financial system was through collective and coordinated actions by all parties.
CHRISTIAAN REBERGEN, Vice-Minister for International Cooperation of the Netherlands, said that being committed was vital if the international community wanted to achieve the Goals. The Netherlands had started reporting on the progress made and close to 80 companies and non-governmental organizations supported the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, the Government had launched initiatives with a view to increase domestic revenue. Highlighting the importance of being coherent in behaviours, he called to stop tax exemptions.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE TORSHIZI, Vice-Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance of Iran, said that his Government attached great importance to the realization of the 2030 Agenda based on national priorities. Given that, relevant policies and actions had been taken at the national level. The Government had strengthened the mobilization of domestic resources, further improved the tax collection system and provided more efficient public services. Among other things, it had improved the tax policy, which would improve efficiency and effectiveness of the system. In addition, the Government had recently issued its long-term environmental policy, which focused on coordinated and systematic management of resources and development of green economy. Reducing poverty and inequality, and ensuring risk reductions were among national priorities, as well.
VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said that the forum was not only essential for developing countries, but also the overall global community as it would take stock of the Addis Agenda, which was an integral part of the 2030 Agenda. To faithfully implement the Addis Agenda and make the forum most relevant, the international community must ensure that all parts of the Addis Agenda were implemented in a full and balanced manner. North-South cooperation was still the main channel of financing for development and the fulfilment of all ODA commitments remained crucial. Capacity development was of great importance for addressing the specific needs and conditions of developing countries while also reflecting their national sustainable development strategies and priorities.
Welcoming the launch of the Global Infrastructure Forum, he emphasized that its outcome must be reported to the forum. Countries must commit to promoting and increasing transparency in financial flows and work together in the fight against illicit financial flows. The Group called on WTO members to redouble their efforts to conclude the negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda and urged greater efforts to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies. Developing countries should have stronger voices in international economic decision-making, norm-setting and global governance. Easier market access and investment opportunities should also be provided to developing countries and greater regional economic integration should be encouraged.
RICHARD NDUHUURA (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the forum was a cornerstone in the process of implementation and follow-up both of the Addis Agenda and the 2030 Agenda. While the former would support the means of implementation of the latter, the Addis Agenda would nevertheless outlive the 2030 Agenda and continue supporting sustainable development programmes well beyond 2030. Obstacles to sustainable development, particularly in Africa, included inadequate resources exacerbated by illicit financial flows and unmet ODA commitments, unfair trade rules, debts and debt sustainability, systemic issues in the international financial institutions, too little transfer of technology and lack of capacity.
He urged States not to forget the unique challenges faced particularly by African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, and the specific challenges facing middle-income countries and those in conflict and post-conflict situations. The principle of national ownership remained relevant, and the Group was committed to take the lead in formulating policies which would facilitate integration of both the Addis Agenda and the 2030 Agenda into its national plans and priorities.
AZEEMA ADAM, Governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said global infrastructure development was among the key challenges for small island developing States. The international community was currently seeing a paradigm shift with renewed attention across the three pillars of sustainable development. The forum provided a chance to reaffirm commitments made for the next phase of development, she said, noting that the Addis Agenda was the first high-level document of its kind to fully recognize the unique challenges faced by small island developing States. Their populations were small, which meant limited capacity to mobilize domestic resources, and their high levels of geographic isolation meant high costs in delivering essential services. “That is why the Addis Agenda is so dear to us,” she said, stressing that the Agenda would provide a “fighting chance” for many States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Climate change adaptation costs in small island developing States were among the highest in the world, she said, and few resources had been pledged to fill that gap. Those States received a relatively low percentage of ODA, and there was an overall underestimation of their needs. Strong enduring partnerships were crucial to sustainable development, she said, recalling that the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA Pathway) had called for concerted efforts in that regard. Calling for enhanced monitoring and capacity-building in small island developing States, she said “the 2030 Agenda belongs to all of us”, and noted that misleading income levels meant that those developing States were often a low priority for donors. She stressed the need to implement not only the letter, but the spirit of the Addis Agenda and to address the needs of the most vulnerable, wherever they might be.
MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras), speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said achieving sustainable development would require eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions and combating inequality within and among countries. Addressing the gap between countries would require stepping up international cooperation in science, research, technology and innovation, and focusing on the needs of developing countries. Capacity development would be integral to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Enhanced international support and multistakeholder partnerships for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in middle-income countries to support national plans to implement the Sustainable Development Goals would need to be established. Stronger cooperation with relevant United Nations agencies could support this process to advance the linkages between infrastructure development and inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation.
MARÍA EUGINA CASAR (Mexico) said that, over the last decade, millions of people had been lifted out of poverty, the quality of living had increased and much progress had been achieved in maternal health and access to education. However, despite that, challenges regarding income inequality and child mortality persisted. Referring to international cooperation for development, she stressed that, according to the latest data, ODA for the least developed countries, as well as those States in the Caribbean region, continued to decline. Expressing her country’s readiness to play its part, she said “we all have to contribute”.
MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), reiterating a strong commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, noted that his country had moved from words to action. In 2014, the Government had established the Climate Investment Fund, in partnership with actors from public and private sector. The Fund was projected to generate $1.5 billion for climate investments in development countries. On the fight against illicit capital flows, he underscored the need to support tax systems in developing countries. For its part, Denmark had allocated $100 million with a view to build capacity in partner countries.
ROBERTO B. TAN, National Treasurer for the Department of Finance, Bureau of the Treasury of the Philippines, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Like-Minded Group, described his country’s gains towards implementing the 2030 Agenda. Recent reforms had resulted in the more effective use of the country’s resources, reduced opportunities for corruption and increased domestic resources, he said, adding that efforts had also targeted social protection and resilience, ensuring that poor children had health care and went to school. The country had created a People’s Survival Fund to finance the climate change adaptation. It was encouraging more private sector participation, streamlining procedures and reducing the costs of doing business. It had also increased the number of public-private partnerships and was pushing for legislation to create a liberalized and more competitive banking system. In the areas of environment, climate and disaster-risk financing, the country had worked to address the challenges and opportunities of resource mobilization. It aimed to enhance partnerships with development partners in areas such as capacity-building and to strengthening South-South and international cooperation. In addition, the country would continue to improve policy environment to attract more FDI and it would improve monitoring of financial flows.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said his country faced multiple complex humanitarian and developmental challenges precipitated by the influx of more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees. That large number of refugees had a significant impact on the country’s economic growth prospects, increased unemployment levels and left Lebanon’s infrastructure overstretched in many sectors, including health, education, housing, energy, water, sanitation and transport. The Addis Agenda recognized the need for coherence of developmental and humanitarian finance to ensure more timely and comprehensive approaches to the management of complex emergencies. Host communities such as Lebanon were providing a global public good, and if their medium- and long-term resilience needs were not adequately met, spillover effects across borders and seas would become the norm, threatening the security, economic and development prospects in both developed and developing countries, alike.
NAJLA AL KAABI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of United Arab Emirates, associating herself with the Group of 77, said the Sustainable Development Goals provided the blueprint for achieving the 2030 Agenda. “We need to operationalize the ‘what needs to be done’ agenda,” she said, calling for more collaborative action in that respect. She recalled that the meeting known as “Sustainable Development Goals in Action”, held in her country in February, had convened a dialogue on the challenges of the 2030 Agenda and highlighted financing in particular. As a donor country, the United Arab Emirates would work collaboratively to achieve the 2030 Agenda and shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. “Together, let us seize this opportunity,” she concluded.
GEIR O. PEDERSEN (Norway) said that monitoring progress in a credible way required accurate measurements and an updated reporting from all stakeholders. The annual reporting on progress by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development would be key in that regard and Member States needed to ensure coherence. While the international community was at a historical turning point, it was facing serious economic and humanitarian challenges, witnessing a wide gap between needs and resources. Overcoming those required innovative and comprehensive approaches. While ODA would continue to be important, follow-up plans must include a coherent strategy to unleash new forms of finance. ODA could not substitute private investment or tax revenues as sources of finance for poverty eradication and sustainable development. Rather, it should be used to complement and mobilize more private investment. Concluding, he underscored the need to step up efforts to combat illicit capital flows. As more than $1 trillion was lost every year in in such flows in developing countries, it was necessary to strengthen revenue collection capacities and legal frameworks.
GIAMPAOLO CANTINI (Italy) welcomed the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force, which would report on progress in implementing the financing for development outcomes of the 2030 Agenda. With regard to ODA, he noted that his country’s Parliament had approved the increase in the amount of assistance. It would be doubled in 2016 and tripled in 2017, he said, stressing that a substantial portion would be given to the least developed countries. Further, Italy was in the final stage of creating its development framework, which involved the active participation of all stakeholders in decision-making.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the Addis Agenda corresponded with the main objective of his country — the complete elimination of poverty. There had been key points in the Addis Agenda which required special attention, including the follow-up on commitments made by developed States to help developing countries achieve their goals, including through capacity-building, technology transfer and other means. South-South cooperation was a crucial supplement of North-South cooperation, he said, calling for the creation of an enabling environment that would allow developing countries to access financing and greater inclusion in international trade. In that regard, he also called for transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory rules at the WTO, and stressed the importance of redoubling efforts to conclude the Doha Round. Finally, it was necessary to address the question of debt sustainability, which was fundamental to achieving sustainable development at the national level.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said national efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda must be supported by an enabling environment. The disparity between developed countries and developing countries had to be reduced in order to promote more balanced “rules of the game”. The launch of the forum was fundamental to those goals, he said, spotlighting a number of issues. First, the facilitation mechanism for transfer of technology was indispensable. Second, recent decisions adopted by the tenth ministerial conference of the WTO to eliminate agricultural subsidies could help reduce disparities between countries. He appealed to the United Nations development system to strengthen efforts towards better, more specialized support to respond to the needs of middle-income countries. Current “partial” approaches associated with per capita income alone must be changed, he stressed, calling for multidimensional measurements which would incorporate a number of factors.
CARLOS DUARTE (Brazil) said that the current meeting consolidated the path for the upcoming high-level forum in July. The third International Conference on Financing for Development was the only major conference with no follow-up mechanism until now, he stressed. Making progress depended on further financing from all stakeholders, including the private sector. Drawing attention to international tax matters, he welcomed the recent initiates undertaken. He then stressed that the Addis Agenda had recognized the importance of domestic resource mobilization, and called for greater international cooperation.
Ms. INDRARATNE (Sri Lanka) said that the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals was a milestone achievement, but for developing countries such as her own, financing remained a key challenge to their implementation. Financing for financial inclusion had become a priority for Sri Lanka, with policy interventions identified addressing the environment, technology and innovation, entrepreneurship, access to finance, market facilitation and research. Going forward, the country had immense potential to channel development finance through active participation in carbon emission trading. As foreign inflows diminished and developed countries faced constrained fiscal environments, developing States needed to strengthen domestic resource mobilization. In this regard, Sri Lanka had announced a medium-term fiscal policy strategy, which envisaged a lower deficit through restrained expenditures and higher revenue mobilization through taxation.
TOFERRY PRIMANDA SOETIKNO (Indonesia) noted that collective efforts had become more challenging given the volatile situation of financial markets. Reiterating his country’s support to the strengthening of domestic resource mobilization, he underscored the need to generate international support to address illicit capital flows. Equally crucial were to reduce the cost of remittances and build national capacities, as well as to increase the market access of developing countries.
MARIO PEZZINI, Director, Development Centre and Acting Director, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reiterating support for all actions for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda, welcomed the follow-up report. To ensure that the world was on track with regard to financing for development, resources must be effectively combined, capitalizing on synergies.
In the afternoon, an interactive dialogue took place on “Fostering policy coherence in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda”.
In opening the discussion, Mr. OH said that, over the years, the intergovernmental dialogue had become a defining feature that enhanced the high-level interactions between the United Nations and intergovernmental bodies, and promoted mutual understanding through consistent and focused discussion. This week’s meetings were designed to further strengthen that dialogue. Coherence was at the core of the Addis Agenda, Agenda 2030 and other international agreements. Heads of State and Government had taken commitments to enhance global economic governance and build a stronger, more inclusive international architecture for sustainable development while respecting the mandates of difference organizations. The international community had come a long way in enhancing the coordinated following up for financing for development outcomes. At the operational level, cooperation between the United Nations and intergovernmental bodies had been strengthened in countries emerging from conflicts and complex emergencies. It was extremely opportune that leaders would come together this week to share lessons learned and good practices, from both United Nations Member States and institutional stakeholders.
MERZA HASAN, Dean of the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank Group, said the meeting came at a crucial moment from a development perspective. The international community had a huge responsibility and accountability to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, as well as those agreements emerging from Addis, Sendai and Paris. The last few years had brought to the table a number of complex, global economic challenges, including pressure on ODA and volatility in financial markets. There was fragility and conflict, including regional and global crises on an unprecedented level. That changing environment put pressure on the Bank to achieve its vision for the eradication of poverty and sustainable economic growth. As a result, it had redesigned country-specific approaches, sought to improve public-private partnerships and placed greater focus on regional cooperation through a strong commitment with the United Nations and other development partners. Countries had agreed that a paradigm shift was needed and it was obvious that it was important to utilize ODA, including concessional and grant money.
ALEKSEI MOZHIN, Dean of the Executive Board, IMF, noted that in Addis Ababa, Member States had agreed on an ambitious framework for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. With a solid partnership and secure financing, sustainable development could be a reality for all. Within its mandate and area of expertise, the IMF stood ready to play its role at the national and global level. Last week, ministers and governors had renewed their commitments to secure a strong sustainable growth and financial stability. Policies must be country-specific, he said, adding that the Board’s role was to provide oversight and guidance on multilateral policy cooperation.
ALFREDO SUESCUM, President of the Trade and Development Board, UNCTAD, said that, for over half a century, the Board had provided policy support to Member States, and had engaged with other institutions. However, the scope and ambition of the development agenda had posed new challenges, requiring collaborative efforts to overcome. The forum, in that regard, was an example of new efforts. Turning to the role of technology, it could be a great facilitator, he said, adding that innovative tools were being used in Geneva. In addition, the United Nations family could bring together various ministers into one place under one roof. Moving beyond institutional questions, he stressed that the global community should not shy away from tackling tough issues such as improving the global economic governance system.
The dialogue was moderated by Eliza Anyangwe of The Guardian and CNN.
MATTHEW MCGUIRE, Executive Director for the United States at the World Bank Group, serving as the lead discussant, said policy coherence required intellectual clarity. It was important to not only understand the “why”, but also the “how”. There must be a strong sense of understanding about the objectives. There should be greater focus placed on the tools that could be utilized, strengthened and created to most effectively direct private capital to priority areas. Steps were needed to identify ways to steer private capital towards priority areas. Crowdfunding efforts could be one methodology for that, but only with the right regulatory framework. The Sustainable Development Goals were a set of guidelines, but their success would not be measured by the volume of capital, but in the ability to reduce poverty. For example, as the international community worked to alleviate the suffering of refugees, it was important to not only recognize it as a humanitarian crisis, but also as a long-term human development crisis.
SERGE DUPONT, Chair, Executive Board Committee for Liaison with the World Bank, the United Nations and other International Organizations, and Executive Director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean Region Member States of the IMF, said that the organizations gathered for the forum were in fact partners. As part of its efforts to support sustainable development, the IMF had enhanced access to concessional facilities and expanded support for domestic revenue mobilization. Sustainable development must be built upon strengthened physical and financial infrastructure. In that regard, the IMF had worked to address infrastructure gaps and promoted development of domestic financial markets. Inclusion and sustainability were critical as were efforts to address climate change and governance reform. The IMF was committed to supporting the global community in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and to taking concrete steps to operational initiatives already under way.
HECTOR ALEJANDRO PALMA CERNA (Honduras), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, noted that the 2030 Agenda had set new challenges and enabled the international community to understand the universal nature of the Goals. To improve the well-being of all, it was critical to look beyond existing categories. Recognizing the multidimensional aspect of poverty, he noted that it would help in identifying areas and countries that required greater attention. Further, there was a need for the involvement of all stakeholders for the formulation of strategies.
In the ensuing dialogue, delegates and the representatives of civil society organizations and the business sector asked questions and commented on items including the growth rate, aid effectiveness, mobilizing the business sector, risk mitigation and capacity-building.
Some delegates shared their national experiences. The representative of Paraguay said that his country had managed to achieve macroeconomic stability, yet its high dependency on import products had continued. The Government had lowered taxes in order to improve foreign investment and maintain development.
Mr. MCGUIRE noted that being responsive and hearing what people needed was the first order of business. The World Bank, for its part, had created a new mechanism to help middle-income countries.
Mr. HASAN stressed the need to be adaptable to changes. Having changed its aid and financing modalities, the World Bank had studied each country and mapped needs and priorities. One example was the international migration crisis, for which the Bank was trying to create an economic zone and jobs for refugees.
Mr. DUPONT said that, rather than categorizing, it was essential to monitor individual needs and priorities, and find vulnerabilities. Coordinated responses must be based on those findings, he stressed.
Mr. PALMA CERNA noted that, in dealing with crisis, the international community must invest in prevention efforts.
A representative of a civil society organization asked how the international community could move from rhetoric to action.
Mr. OH, responding, noted that the facilitators had come up with an outcome document, which would provide a direction for the follow-up on the Addis Agenda.
Ms. ANYANGWE then asked Member States about the initiatives undertaken by their Governments.
The representative of Ethiopia noted that the Government had organized a high-level forum at the national level, focusing on the implementation of the Addis Agenda.
Mr. MCGUIRE noted that existing tools could be strengthened and expanded. Given its nature, crowdfunding could go in different directions, he said, stressing the need to look at country-specific experiences.
Mr. SUESCUM said that investment agreements provided a regulatory framework, depending on legislation and regulatory regimes. Such agreements, at the same time, did not care about regulations but the rate of return.
Mr. OH did not know whether the Forum was enough to ensure coherence, yet the Council had various forums and processes to enhance the effectiveness of ODA. One example was the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, which was a turning point in international discussions.
Mr. MOZHIN described three phases of global economy, which included increasing growth, commodity super cycle and normalization of monetary policy. Stressing the need for strong economic growth, he noted that it was far from the reality.
Also participating in the dialogue was the representative of Chad.
In opening the portion of the interactive dialogue focused on the “Humanitarian and development nexus”, JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said there had been a number of recent reports and studies at the United Nations that indicated there was a need to overcome silos and bridge divides. The international community must not look at peace and security in an isolated way without also addressing humanitarian and development issues, but rather needed to reflect and respect the individual competencies of organizations and bring them together institutionally and operationally. Collectively, the world needed to get better at prevention, resilience-building and post-crisis reconstruction; all of which contained prominent development, peace and security and humanitarian elements. The current situation in Burundi was a strong example of the need to take a comprehensive approach to crises. Funding was not only decreasing, but there was also a concerning increase in voluntary, earmarked contributions. That risked increasing a silo approach and encouraged competition and fragmentation, which could result in a waste of resources. Financing could provide the necessary push for institutional changes and provide an important contribution for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and Addis Agenda.
SATU SANTALA, Executive Director for Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, World Bank Group, said it was important to continuously integrate the long- and short-term strategies to address humanitarian crises, conflict or natural disasters to ensure that, when events happened, preparations to address the needs of people were already in place. Institutions and systems must be built in advance, such as health systems and Government services to either prevent such events from happening in the first place, or to better-respond after they happened. In the midst of a crisis, education, employment, gender equality and infrastructure reconstruction were all high priorities, although they were not always adequately addressed. The need to have a strong understanding of the drivers of conflict and fragility could not be understated. The role of the private sector was of critical importance, while the regional perspective should not be overlooked. There had been calls for improving crisis response tools for both low- and middle-income countries. Collaboration was always important, but was really of a critical nature during major events.
In the ensuing discussion, the Executive Director of the IMF said the Fund was focused on increasing country-level interactions and supporting fragile States, which were the largest recipients of capacity-building funding.
The representative of Kazakhstan said her country had worked to create favourable conditions for investments and finance through administrative and management processes. She went on to propose a number of changes to the current set-up of the Economic and Social Council.
The representative of Iraq called for a unified and strategic plan based on realistic priorities. Citing the example of the Ebola virus response, he said resources should be maximized for optimal results.
The representative of Lebanon said balancing short-term humanitarian and long-term development priorities depended on the situation on the ground. In the context of the refugee crisis in his region, more resources should go into infrastructure, housing and education.
Mr. HASAN noted that the focus of the World Bank was to build up strong infrastructure, ensure coordination among stakeholders and create resilient economies. He stressed the importance of understanding the situation on the ground when crisis hit. At the country level, it was critical to enhance coordination between the Government, international organizations and civil society.
The representative of Lebanon, taking the floor one more time, noted that the international organizations should cooperate with Governments at the national level for better results.