FfD20 April 2016: International organizations held several events on the sidelines of the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Inaugural Forum on Financing for Development (FfD) Follow-up (FfD Forum), which took place from 18-20 April. Participants highlighted the importance of domestic resource mobilization through improved tax collection, and addressing systemic issues and debt.

The FfD Forum followed up on implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), which was agreed in July 2015 at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

At a side event on 18 April, Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), a joint initiative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), announced the delivery of an estimated US$185 million in additional revenues through its capacity building and partnerships. The achievement was reached through providing audit assistance to improve the quality and consistency of tax audits, capacity building to improve tax audit skills, and South-South cooperation. TIWB was launched in July 2015, and programmes have been active in several countries, including Albania, Colombia, Senegal and Zimbabwe. Further programmes are being planned in Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi and Nigeria. TIWB provides help to countries upon request, coordinated by a joint OECD/UNDP Secretariat in Paris that works with UNDP’s network of country offices. Prior to the FfD Forum, UNDP and the OECD announced the appointment of James Karanja, Kenya Revenue Authority, to lead the further development of TIWB.

Also on 18 April, the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Government of the Republic of Korea highlighed the outcome of the High-level Follow-up Dialogue on FfD in Asia and the Pacific, which took place in Incheon, from 30-31 March 2016, where regional leaders agreed on a regional follow-up framework for implementing the AAAA and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the event in New York, ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar said the Incheon meeting had identified a number of priority areas for action to generate financing for 2030 Agenda, including setting up an Asia-Pacific tax forum; enhancing regional cooperation initiatives for the development of capital markets; and developing a regional infrastructure financing forum. She also noted interest in promoting financial inclusion and setting up a regional centre in the Pacific to address climate issues, especially as they relate to small island developing States (SIDS). Oh Joon, ECOSOC President and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, who chaired the event, called for everyone to contribute ideas on how to deliver on their financing commitments. Participants stressed the importance of partnerships with the private sector, and effective implementation.

At a side event on 19 April, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Bread for the World, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and other partners discussed ways to address systemic issues and debt through the FfD process. In a concept note, the organizing partners observed that, while financing conditions for most developing countries have long been favorable, the more recent collapse of commodity prices and the US interest rate hike have led to worldwide dampening of economic growth. Participants at the event discussed reforms that can take advantage of the international monetary system to support job creation, and provide innovative financing for sustainable development initiatives.

In the lead-up to the FfD Forum, the Office of UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Mogens Lykketoft, supported by the Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, organized a “finance retreat” from 8-10 March 2016. Representatives of Member States, along with academics, NGOs, and leaders of commercial and development banks, insurance companies, investor groups and ratings agencies met to discuss financing of the SDGs and climate resilience. According to the retreat highlights document, participants concluded that Heads of State should take a strong stand on the need for policy coherence in implementing the climate agreement and the SDGs.

Other conclusions from the meeting were: the UN should continue to exercise its convening power to engage national leaders and actors to follow-up on their global commitments; the UNGA President should suggest the development of a strategy to further engage with the private sector on the SDGs; and the Group of 20 (G-20) should lend support in mainstreaming the SDGs into macroeconomic policies. Participants further suggested that: the FfD Forum and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) should be encouraged to provide a platform for engaging with the private finance sector; UNCTAD could help prospective investors in developing countries with liaison and information services on regulatory frameworks in those countries; and the UNGA should discuss a resolution on sustainable finance. [Side Event on TIWB] [TIWB Event Concept Note] [OECD Press Release] [Side Event on Debt] [Debt Event on Concept Note] [ESCAP Press Release] [ESCAP Event Info] [Highlights of the Finance Retreat] [IISD RS Story on Asia-Pacific FfD Dialogue]