UNCTAD Explores Financing Sources for SDGs in Cities
Photo credit: Maid Milinkic
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The March 2019 issue of UNCTAD's IPA Observer focuses on sources of financing for SDG projects and ways to enhance the sustainable development impact of investment, while providing takeaways for cities and IPAs.

The document explores case studies from Bogota (Colombia), Cape Town (South Africa), and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

March 2019: The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published an issue of its ‘IPA Observer’ on promoting investment for sustainable development and the SDGs in cities. UNCTAD explains that with 68% of the world’s population projected to be urban by 2050, meeting the SDGs means meeting the Goals in the city. The paper explores ways to mobilize investment for cities, including through investment promotion agencies (IPAs).

The publication focuses on sources of financing for SDG projects and ways to enhance the sustainable development impact of investment, while providing takeaways for cities and IPAs. The document also looks at case studies from Bogota (Colombia), Cape Town (South Africa), and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

In addition to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), UNCTAD argues, nearly all of the other SDGs require progress at the city level in order to be met, with major development challenges for cities including: ensuring enough quality jobs and affordable housing; transport within and between cities; food security; reliable supply of clean water and electricity; sanitation; education; health services; telecommunications; reduction of noise and pollution; and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

To mobilize investment to address these challenges, UNCTAD notes that governments have introduced incentive policies and established entities such as IPAs, economic development organizations, industrial parks and special economic zones. The authors note that more than 170 countries have national IPAs, and hundreds of cities have their own investment promotion and economic development agencies or units within city governments, which promote both domestic and foreign investment at the metropolitan or city level. In addition, some metropolitan areas also have investment promotion offices overseas and promote outward investment.

UNCTAD argues that such “locally embedded” agencies can be key in identifying SDG projects at the city level, developing bankable SDG proposals, promoting projects that have a high sustainability impact, and helping to find the right financial arrangements – including public-private partnerships (PPPs) – for funding. The text notes that these agencies also can facilitate the establishment of business linkages with local companies and support enterprises in the adoption of environmental management and social standards. UNCTAD observes that strategic partnerships between these agencies and national IPAs are critical and “have proven often to be the key to success.” [Publication: IPA Observer, March 2019]

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