ECOSOC20 April 2016: UN Member States concluded the inaugural session of the Financing for Development (FfD) Forum by adopting a brief set of intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations, through which they express strong commitment to the “full” implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA).

The first UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on FfD follow-up took place on 18-20 April 2016, in New York, US.

The outcome document recognizes that the AAAA helps to contextualize the means of implementation targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with “concrete policies and actions.” Thailand, for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/ China), expressed disappointment that the FfD Forum’s mandates of assessing progress, identifying obstacles, addressing new and emerging topics and providing policy recommendations are not reflected in the outcome document. The document had been negotiated in informal consultations co-facilitated by the Permanent Representatives of Benin and Croatia in the weeks leading up to the Forum.

Several roundtables convened on the third day. On Debt and systemic issues, Stephanie Blankenburg , UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), stressed the need to improve and extend databases to capture the complexity of current processes in debt sustainability. Lee Buchheit, the Law Firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, said while more robust collective actions are being introduced, it will take a decade to solve the fragility of the debt system. Jo Marie Griesgraber, New Rules for Global Finance Coalition, called for new mechanisms for the quick and efficient flow of remittances across borders.

On Trade, science, technology, innovation and capacity-building, Hans-Peter Werner, World Trade Organization (WTO), highlighted the “unexpected breakthrough” on agricultural subsidies, very important for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on sustainable agriculture, which took place during the WTO meeting in Nairobi (December 2015). Deborah James, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), noted that current trade agreements constrain the policy space for developing countries to achieve the SDGs, and called for safeguards for developing countries against imports that might distort their internal markets.

On Science, technology, innovation and capacity building, Andrew Hirsch, Director General, International Intellectual Property Institute, suggested leap-frogging in capacity-building to avoid repeating past mistakes. Ambuj Sagar, Indian Institute of Technology, called for deploying technologies at scale, and said there is no “one size fits all” approach to technology.

On Data, monitoring and follow-up, André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, France, called for reinforcing synergies among partnerships. Robert York, International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressed the need for adequate financial, human and technological resources for the development of statistics. He said political commitment needs to be: strong; continuous; and expressed in robust legal and regulatory frameworks for statistics, to avoid competition among agencies in countries. John Pullinger, National Statistician, UK, underscored the need to build data capability within governments and make them advocates for improving statistics. Stefano Prato, Society for International Development, said the FfD Forum has provided space for discussion but not for planning, and proposed using the extra two days not used this week in the fall for actual planning, including stakeholders.

During the interactive debate, participants addressed: the importance of interregional trade; the risks of high technologies “bleeding public resources dry” in order to pay for intellectual property rights; the benefits of integrated portfolios of trade and development in one ministry, which enhance policy coherence for development; the need to promote market access for least developed countries (LDCs); the need for better information on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for investors; and the development of local equity markets to support infrastructure projects. One participant suggested the FfD Forum should assess how much capacity building has been provided to countries.

Closing the Forum, Oh Joon, ECOSOC President, said the willingness of Member States to seek “win-win solutions” is more important than putting words into an outcome document. He called for keeping the spirit of collaboration alive at all levels. [IISD RS Sources] [Meeting Summary] [IISD RS Story on FFD Forum, Day 1] [IISD RS Story on FFD Forum, Day 2] [IISD RS Coverage of Consultations on Forum Outcome]