UNGA Retreat Recognizes Financing Sustainable Infrastructure Critical for Achieving SDGs
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
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The Office of the President of the UN General Assembly (PGA) convened a retreat under the theme ‘Catalyzing New Coalitions to Accelerate Co-Financing of Sustainable Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities’.

The retreat underscored the role of sustainable infrastructure investments in achieving the SDGs.

June 2017: Participants at a retreat convened by the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) stressed that sustainable infrastructure investments are crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The retreat discussed mobilizing new and additional resources for financing sustainable infrastructure in developing countries, aligning investments with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of the UN in this endeavor.

The retreat convened under the theme, ‘Catalyzing New Coalitions to Accelerate Co-Financing of Sustainable Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities,’ and met from 12-14 June 2017, in Tarrytown, New York, US. The retreat aimed to: identify new and innovative strategies for accelerating and scaling up financing; create an opportunity for representatives from governments and the financial services sectors to exchange views; and support developing countries in preparing for the 2017 session of the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF), which met from 10-19 July 2017 in New York.

Retreat participants suggested prioritizing the alignment of environmental, social and governance reporting guidelines with the SDGs and encouraging the standardization of criteria by the corporate sector and investors to create a level playing field.

During the retreat, participants underscored: the importance of developing local and regional financial markets, and continuing official development assistance (ODA) for technical cooperation and capacity building; and the need for innovative risk sharing instruments and more efficient information exchange platforms. They suggested: prioritizing the alignment of environmental, social and governance reporting guidelines with the SDGs and encouraging the standardization of criteria by the corporate sector and investors to create a level playing field; that credit rating agencies consider the latest, most accurate data available on developing and emerging market countries in order to provide a strong foundation for risk profiles; and that the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD-DAC) continue reviewing the way guarantees for sustainable investments are counted as ODA, in order to prevent increased debt sustainability ceilings.

Participants suggested the UN catalyze pipelines of bankable projects, encourage new partnerships and stimulate alliances between domestic and cross-border investors, which can co-finance sustainable infrastructure. They further suggested that the UN, inter alia: engage with other international institutions to remove regulatory obstacles and align international strategies to support the SDGs; play an intermediary role by convening key stakeholders and helping create coalitions of interests to mobilize and accelerate infrastructure financing; and bring together global financial institutions to discuss updating traditional approaches to financial stability in order to scale-up capital in sustainable infrastructure investments. In addition, they called on governments to help stimulate innovative ‘co-financing clubs’ that can underwrite sustainable infrastructure projects.

Retreat attendees also recommended, inter alia: mobilizing capital from multiple sources in order to expand infrastructure investment; applying public capital at the early stages of project development; increasing understanding of private investors’ needs and constraints and the risk perceptions that shape investment decisions; addressing risk during the formulation and design phases of infrastructure project development; and engaging host-country stakeholders in project design and decision-making in order to gain community acceptance.

Discussions identified other potential areas of engagement, including: aligning commercial, philanthropic and government entities to stimulate performance-driven infrastructure financing related to tropical forests and biodiversity protection; and encouraging the creation of sovereign green bonds that could protect domestic irrigated agriculture and improve water-use efficiency in regions vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

The outcomes of the retreat will contribute, in particular, to achieving SDGs 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). Participants included representatives from government, the private financial sector, development finance institutions, academia, the UN Secretariat and other international organizations. The retreat convened in collaboration with UN Environment and the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University, and with support from the Permanent Representatives of Canada and Jamaica to the UN, co-chairs of the Group of Friends of Sustainable Development Goals Financing. [IISD Sources] [UNGA President Website] [Event Website]

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