An Asia-Pacific regional conference in Bangladesh discussed how public and private financing for sustainable development can be raised through tax systems, capital markets, climate finance, and development aid, noting that current investments fall short of what will be needed to fully achieve the SDGs by 2030.
Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, ESCAP Executive Secretary, emphasized to conference delegates that “ambition is our only option”.
She called for enhancing fintech solutions to extend financing opportunities to micro-enterprises and SMEs, with a focus on women entrepreneurs.
An Asia-Pacific regional conference discussed how public and private financing for sustainable development can be raised through tax systems, capital markets, climate finance and development aid. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has highlighted the need for an additional USD1.5 trillion a year or 5% of regional GDP to fully achieve the SDGs by 2030.
The Asia-Pacific Conference on Financing for Inclusive and Sustainable Development took place from 10-12 December 2019, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The conference was organized by ESCAP and the Government of Bangladesh, with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to discuss how investment and international development cooperation may be scaled up, and how countries may diversify both private and public financial flows.
In a video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for scaling up climate finance, investing in building resilience to climate change, and harnessing financial technology (fintech) to provide equitable financial access to all.
In her keynote address, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, ESCAP Executive Secretary, emphasized to conference delegates that “ambition is our only option.” Alisjahbana noted some positive trends, namely improvements by countries in mobilizing tax revenue through modern and efficient systems, development of a pipeline of bankable projects for infrastructure financing, and the increasing role being played by capital markets in closing financing gaps. She also highlighted the role of digital technologies in improving access to financing for micro-enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the potential for profit in the digital economy. She also cited negative trends such as the rise in trade protectionist measures, greater social inequality, and a higher incidence of climate change-related natural disasters.
Alisjahbana highlighted three priority areas for action:
- Strengthening regional dialogues and cooperation on tax matters to address excessive tax competition across countries and tax evasion by multilateral corporations, both of which deprive developing countries of tax revenue;
- Improving planning, implementation and financing of national and cross-border infrastructure projects through regional cooperation, including participation in the Infrastructure Financing and Public-Private Partnership Network of Asia and the Pacific; and
- Enhancing fintech solutions to extend financing opportunities to micro-enterprises and SMEs, with a focus on women entrepreneurs.
Several ministers from Asia and Europe attended the conference, along with more than 800 government officials, businesspeople, and representatives of international organizations and civil society. The conference marked both the 100th anniversary of the ICC and its 25th anniversary in Bangladesh.
ESCAP estimates that, while 5% of regional GDP will be needed in additional investments to achieve the 2030 Agenda, countries in South Asia, where development needs are greater, will need 10% of regional GDP. [Conference website]