Concerns on Financing Sustainable Development Cited Ahead of UNGA Dialogue
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The UN’s Interagency Task Force on Financing for Development held a discussion on the findings of its 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report.

Speakers drew attention to technology, data and digital finance, which will be in focus in the 2020 edition of the report.

The UNGA’s high-level dialogue on financing for development will take place on 26 September 2019 with the expected participation of 80 heads of state and government and ministers to discuss ways to improve FfD.

12 July 2019: The UN’s Interagency Task Force on Financing for Development (FfD) held a discussion on the findings of its 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR). Meeting on the sidelines of the 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), speakers drew attention to technology, data and digital finance, which will be in focus in the 2020 edition of the report.

Liu Zhenmin, head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said financing remains a major bottleneck to implementing the SDGs and the financing for development (FfD) agenda. Navid Hanif, DESA, added that financing is about more than money; policy choices, capacity building, and technology are also important. The officials said the 2020 edition of the report will focus on disruptive technological change and its impacts on sustainable development.

“We still don’t know where the money is going to come from.”

Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the UN, said the voices speaking out about financing for sustainable development have grown to an “alarm … that we are this far into the implementation process, and we still don’t know where the money is going to come from.” Elisenda Vives Balmana, Permanent Representative of Andorra, said the 2019 FSDR shows the economic benefits for businesses in becoming more climate friendly. She reported that climate change affects tourism, which is an important source of income for Andorra.

Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group, introduced ‘integrated national financing frameworks’ (INFFs). He also noted that without coordinated, efficient institutions and solid policies, additional financing will not lead a country to its desired results.

In comments from participants, Marcos Neto, UN Development Programme (UNDP), called for continuing the work of Tax Inspectors without Borders, and he highlighted the work of the UN’s Task Force on Digital Finance. He stressed the need for tools to define whether a private capital investment is in line with the SDGs, both to demonstrate the market impact of aligning with the SDGs, and to avoid “SDG washing.”

Chantal Line Carpentier, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), expressed concern that foreign direct investment (FDI) continues to fall for the least developed countries (LDCs). She called for re-examining the definition of “bad debt,” suggesting that a debt to advance the SDGs may be “good debt.” She added that a major issue is “who owns the data,” and that the 2020 FSDR will be very important in addressing technology.

A representative of Norway urged creativity in “getting the message out” about financing sustainable development, saying the need for higher interest in the topic.

Concluding the event, DESA officials noted that the UNGA’s high-level dialogue on financing for development (FfD) will take place on 26 September 2019 with the expected participation of 80 heads of state and government and ministers to discuss ways to improve FfD. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]


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