AidData Proposes Strategies for Better SDG Financing
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A report from AidData titled, ‘Realizing Agenda 2030: Will Donor Dollars and Country Priorities Align with Global Goals?,’ considers the concepts of baseline (how much financing did sustainable development receive pre-2015?); alignment (did donors align their financing with the Millennium Development Goals?); and influence (to what extent did the MDGs shape domestic priorities and reforms?).

AidData is a research lab based at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, US.

6 November 2017: The research lab AidData proposed strategies for governments and development partners to mobilize better financing – not only more – to achieve the SDGs. The authors examine a “baseline” for sustainable development financing and experiences with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on donor and policy behavior.

AidData is based at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, US. The report titled, ‘Realizing Agenda 2030: Will Donor Dollars and Country Priorities Align with Global Goals?,’ was published on 6 November 2017.

On financing sustainable development before 2015, the report notes that peace and justice (the areas reflected in SDG 16) attracted the most official development assistance (ODA), while education (as in SDG 4) and health (equivalent to SDG 3) were under-funded. ODA financing during 2000-2013 also placed a strong emphasis on industry and infrastructure, most closely related to SDG 9, and sustainable cities, equivalent to SDG 11, with relatively less attention to environmental goals, as in SDGs 13, 14 and 15, the authors write. These findings represent the “baseline” for SDG financing.

The report also considers “alignment,” or whether donors aligned their financing with the MDGs. It finds that donors fell short of strongly aligning ODA with the MDGs. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) bilateral donors, however, aligned their ODA spending most closely to the MDGs, on average, as compared with multilateral development banks and non-DAC bilaterals, according to the report.

Finally, on the question of influence – to what extent the MDGs shaped domestic priorities and reforms – the authors report that a vast majority of public, private, and civil society leaders in low-income countries (LICs) and middle-income countries (MICs) were familiar with the MDGs. They perceived the Goals to be moderately influential in their governments’ decisions to address a particular policy problem and to design reforms. Leaders from sub-Saharan Africa ranked the MDGs as the most influential compared to their counterparts in other regions. According to the same research, which was conducted by AidData in 2014, just over a third of survey participants noted that the most important reason for MDGs influence was the Goals’ ability to help authorities acknowledge policy problems or identify practical solutions.

Based on these findings, the report proposes strategies for SDGs financing, including: continuously monitor the financing committed and allocated towards each of the SDGs at both the Goal and target levels, to ensure that no part of the 2030 Agenda is inadvertently “dropped off”; incentivize project-level reporting on all sustainable development finance flows, not just aid; and invest in reliable costing estimates, disaggregated by Goal and target, to anticipate shortfalls. On this latter point, the authors call on the UN system to create and maintain a publicly available database of costing estimates by sector, Goal, and country to enable governments and organizations to conduct their own assessments of the distribution and effectiveness of SDG financing.

In order to align SDG financing with national development priorities, the report suggests using country-level mapping exercises and other tools that explicitly look for areas of synergy between existing national development strategies and the SDGs, and to codify commitments and report on actual investments. [Publication: Realizing Agenda 2030: Will Donor Dollars and Country Priorities Align with Global Goals?: A Baseline Report]

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