During a briefing on the 2017 Report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, which reviews progress on the means of implementation for the SDGs, Canada recommended the 2018 Report be aligned with the SDGs reviewed by the HLPF in 2018.
Civil society said the IATF reports should reflect more existing normative gaps, including the lack of an agreed definition of illegal financial flows (IFFs), and called on Member States to fill those gaps.
13 July 2017: Member States and stakeholders discussed the 2017 Report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF), which tracks progress on the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development (FfD), during a briefing on the margins of the 2017 session of the High-level Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). During the briefing, participants provided feedback and recommendations for future editions of the report.
The Financing for Development Office (FFDO) of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organized the briefing, which took place on 13 July 2017. The report was launched on 22 May, during the annual Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on FfD. IATF launched a website to accompany the report, track progress on FfD, and make recommendations for corrective action.
Opening the briefing, Alexander Trepelkov, FFDO, said the IATF report, titled ‘Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects’, is the first joint FfD assessment conducted since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He noted that the report draws on expertise, analysis and data from 50 international institutions that constitute the IATF, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Trepelkov added that the publication contains an online annex that captures recent achievements and challenges in AAAA implementation and advances suggestions for corrective action agreed by all the IATF agencies.
Judith Marcia Arrieta Munguia, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN, underlined the importance of remittances in financing development and the need for multi-dimensional measures of poverty. She suggested the next IATF report should clearly note that middle-income countries (MICs) and countries in conflict need special support.
Erich Cripton, Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, praised the report’s review of the AAAA. He observed, however, that the IATF report mandate is to review both the AAAA and the means of implementation (MOI) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the 2017 Report did not fulfill the mandate on SDG MOI. He explained that the IATF report did not reflect the SDGs reviewed by the HLPF in 2017 or other major events on MOI that took place since the 2016 FfD Forum: the New Urban Agenda adopted by UN Habitat; the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 adopted by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF); and the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference.
Cripton said the chapter on science, technology, and innovation (STI) could be made “even more relevant” by addressing the disruptive impact of new technologies on the job market. For 2018, he recommended the IATF align the report’s content with the SDGs to be reviewed by the HLPF in 2018.
Stefano Prato, Society for International Development, said the report should: evolve in a multi-year programme; reflect the different angles coming from different UN agencies rather than blending them into one; and ensure a broader and more transparent consultation process. He stressed that the report has “a very strong private sector bias,” which he explained, is not clearly articulated but pervasive and ideological. Prato further noted that the IATF should reflect more existing normative gaps – such as the lack of an agreed definition of illegal financial flows (IFFs) or the different “shades” of public-private partnerships (PPPs) – and call on Member States to fill those gaps.
Responding to the concerns raised by the panelists, Shari Spiegel, FFDO, explained that the SDG MOI have been addressed throughout different chapters of the report, even though the link with specific SDGs was not highlighted. She said that Member States considered it more helpful to have the joint opinion of different UN entities, adding that the website can be used to reflect differences between the FfD angles specific to different UN entities. Spiegel said the publication does not have a private sector bias but mentions that there is a role for public finance and one for private finance, and that they are not a substitute for each other. On the issue of normative gaps, she reported that some governments were displeased precisely for having been stressed too much.
In an ensuing discussion with IATF members, Kaveh Zahedi, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said the purpose of the report is to send policy signals, which the publication accomplished. David Kuijper, the World Bank, said the 2018 IATF Report should increase its emphasis on the impact of technology on the job markets and address fragility more in-depth.
Chris Lane, Special Representative of the IMF to the UN, stressed the importance of addressing inequality in the 2018 report. Chantal Line Carpentier, UNCTAD, called for increased focus on the digital economy, which “hugely impacts investment.” Nergis Gulasan, UNDP, underscored the importance of fine-tuning the eligibility criteria for concessional financing and of finding the right financial mechanisms for social protection. [UN Press Release on the IATF Report] [IATF Website] [IISD Sources]