UNGA High-level Week Opens with Focus on SDG Financing
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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During a high-level event on the UN’s role in financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the World Bank CEO said the Bank will focus on “waking up” the trillions needed to implement the SDGs.

The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN said the UN will be “undoubtedly” the vehicle to help developing countries, especially the LDCs “to get where they need to get with the SDGs”.

18 September 2017: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) high-level week opened with an event on the UN’s role in financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. High-level representatives of governments, the UN system, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the private sector discussed concrete ways in which they will support the financing of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Moderating the event, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed observed that there are no borders to the challenges “that we, the 7 billion, face,” adding that the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development provide roadmaps for solutions to these challenges. In implementing the two agendas, the Deputy Secretary-General noted that “we hit the ground walking” but, if we want to run, then we need partnerships with the private sector.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that, building on the AAAA, his team will take forward a three-part strategy for enhancing UN support to financing the 2030 Agenda. This strategy will: seek to ensure that the AAAA’s objectives are fully reflected in international economic and financial policies that impact the mobilization of financing, including by enhancing the UN’s work with other inter-governmental platforms such as the Group of 20 (G20); reform the UN development system to strengthen UN country teams, including with regards to supporting countries in brokering partnerships for innovative finance; and champion key international initiatives that can harness large-scale changes in financing and financial system development, such as in the fields of digitalization and climate finance. The Secretary-General also announced that he will host a Finance Summit in New York in September 2018, to review progress across key international platform and progress domestically by Member States.

Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will do more both in relation to public finance and to private finance. On public finance, he explained that DESA’s work will focus on: strengthening tax administrations; scaling up international cooperation – especially with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – in order to close tax loopholes; enhance the contributions of development banks; and scale up South-South Cooperation. On private finance, he said he will: advocate within the G20 for the 2030 Agenda and the AAAA to become guiding documents; work with the international financial institutions (IFIs) to strengthen mechanisms for leveraging private finance; and reorient financial regulation and policy-making towards broader aims such as access to long-term finance, as a core competency of the UN.

Gabriela Michetti, Vice President of Argentina, said, as Chair of the G20, she will seek to strengthen the link between the 2030 Agenda and the G20’s agenda. Achim Steiner, Administrator, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), observed that the SDGs provide a great opportunity to derisk investment, as the Goals promote a future where risk is reduced.

World Bank CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, stressed that the Bank’s goal is to “wake up the trillions” needed for the SDGs, by being a facilitator “that enables private financial flows to flow.”

Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, said the World Bank is working on finding funding for those who need it the most. She noted that the record replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) in 2016 (US$ 75 billion – 50% higher than the previous replenishment) will be used to leverage even more funding from private sources. Georgieva stressed that the Bank’s goal is to “wake up the trillions” needed for the SDGs, by being a facilitator “that enables private financial flows to flow.” To that end, she said the World Bank is focusing its work in nine countries on turning billions into hundreds of billions and then trillions, aiming to scale up respective projects.

Lucy Peng, Executive Chair, Ant Financial, stressed that inclusive growth needs financing and, in the future era of technology and digitalization, technology is the only way to provide that. She noted that technology can support ordinary people and enterprises. She shared an example of Ant Financial’s work, which enables small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to obtain needed financing through online applications in “a matter of seconds,” without any guarantee, by only showing good credit. Peng proposed forming a digital finance working group to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Betty Yee, California Financial Controller, noted that California is the world’s sixth biggest economy and informed that her office has recently created an initiative through which it is working with the state’s highest carbon emitters to establish carbon reducing targets, in support of the Paris Agreement on climate change and SDG 13 (climate action).

Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN, said the UN will be “undoubtedly” the vehicle to help developing countries, especially the least developed countries (LDCs), “to get where they need to get with the SDGs.” He suggested several concrete actions for the UN to provide such support, including: strengthening the UN’s intergovernmental tax body and the Global Infrastructure Forum; and creating a UN platform on financing the SDGs.

Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the UN, highlighted the benefits of innovative financing instruments such as debt for nature swaps, diaspora bonds, or debt for climate change swaps, while cautioning that “development outcomes do not necessarily follow financial inputs,” and, thus, governments “need to be careful.” [UN Press Release][Secretary-General Remarks] [Deputy Secretary-General Remarks] [Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Remarks] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]


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