69th Session of the UNGA10 February 2015: The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Sam Kutesa, convened a high-level thematic debate to discuss key elements of a renewed global partnership for sustainable development, as well as infrastructure development, and the role of parliaments, cities and local authorities in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. A President’s Summary of the meeting, to be released by 18 February 2015, will serve as input for both the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda and the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3).

Opening the debate on 9 February 2015, in New York, US, Kutesa said the resources required for the post-2015 are “much more” than we needed for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but that the emerging patterns of resource flows show significant opportunities for mobilizing the needed finances. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary‐General, noted the high level of ambition reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and said achieving the SDGs and addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development in an integrated manner will rely on a coherent package of financial and non-financial means of implementation (MOI).

Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, drew links to the climate negotiations ongoing under the UNFCCC: “If we don’t succeed at COP 21, all the other SDGs will be hard, if not impossible to achieve.” On MOI, she stressed that the post-2015 development agenda is for and by all countries and people, and official development assistance (ODA) should be channeled to countries most in need, and to those most in need in those countries. She remarked that Sweden will commit to allocating 1.0% of its gross national income (GNI) to ODA, from which a large part will be directed to Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Maria Kiwanuka, Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Planning and Development, stressed the need for policy coherence and rapid structural change to attract new innovative sources of financing, address the infrastructure gap and experience economic growth. She urged policy reforms to ensure effective spending. Zlatko Lagumdzija, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized innovation, and information and communication technologies (ICTs) for partnerships.

In the panel on ‘A renewed global partnership for implementation of the post-2015 development agenda,’ Macharia Kamau, Co-Facilitator for the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, stressed the importance of “the right outcome” from FfD 3 to achieve the post-2015 development agenda. He said governments alone will not be able to meet the full challenge of the SDGs; debt sustainability and debt relief initiatives, as well as science, technology and innovation, will have to be considered. Geir Pedersen, Co-Facilitator for the FfD 3 preparatory process, underlined the need to “connect the dots,” observing that if the finance and the climate agendas are not connected, for instance, neither of them will be achieved. Among the potential outcomes of FfD 3, he said “infrastructure is a deliverable that speaks to all of us.”

Erik Solheim, Chair of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), called for a move from Aid to AIT: Aid, Investment, and Tax. He noted the need to better target ODA so that at least 50% reaches low-income countries, including small island developing States (SIDS). Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), highlighted the need for a policy framework for the SDGs. A fair and open trading system remains a challenge, he said, adding, “we have a collective responsibility for working out sovereign debt management.” Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer, highlighted the benefits of multistakeholder partnerships, such as Every Woman Every Child. She called for accountability to be at the core of the post-2015 development agenda, and for broad-based partnership at all levels.

In the panel on ‘Infrastructure development in the post-2015 agenda and partnerships for realizing the SDGs,’ Guido Schmidt-Traub, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Executive Director, discussed elements leading to the success of the global partnership on health, including technology development and the creation of the GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Ibrahim Mayaki, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) CEO, outlined key challenges related to infrastructure and development, including the absence of multi-sectorality in policy design, and strengthening capacity on domestic resources mobilization.

Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact, noted that the corporate sustainability movement has reached “big scale” and that the willingness to work in a multi-sectoral environment has increased in the FfD context. Laurence Carter, World Bank Group, said a public-private partnership (PPP) certification scheme is being developed by the Bank, along with partners from the multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the UN. Axel Bertuch-Samuels, International Monetary Fund, said infrastructure investment will be the “growth and job-creating story of the future.”

Tom Barrett, Director, European Investment Bank (EIB), underlined the importance of a new approach when it comes to MDBs, which should be seen not only as lenders, but also as “blenders, advisers and partners.” Kapil Kapoor, African Development Bank, said 50% of the people in the world without access to energy live in Africa, and there cannot be inclusive growth without access to energy. He also called for unbundling risk, as there are 54 countries in Africa with very different risk profiles.

Magdy Martinez-Soliman, UN Development Programme (UNDP), said the global infrastructure needs amount to US$73 trillion by the finish line of the post-2015 development agenda, and highlighted investment needs in energy, water and agriculture infrastructure. The BRICS’ bank could help fill the gap, he said. Sarah Cliffe, Center on International Cooperation, noted that the scale of flows has shifted since the MDGs were negotiated, with private flows and remittances now dwarfing ODA, and stressed the need to develop new frameworks to adapt to this reality. She identified areas where partnerships will be particularly important, including health, addressing inequalities, creating jobs, infrastructure, building peaceful and inclusive societies and taxation.

In the panel on ‘The role of Parliaments, cities and local authorities in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda,’ Amina Mohammed, UN Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, said parliaments will: contribute to creating enabling environments by setting laws; deliver an oversight function that will ensure that promises are monitored and reviewed; and ensure the resources for implementation. She argued that domestic resources should provide for the day-to-day needs and rights of the people, while foreign direct investments (FDIs) are necessary to unlock these resources and make them grow. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, President, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said the upcoming UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will set the tone for FfD 3, the Post-2015 Summit and COP 21. Since the SDGs will be voluntary, he said, translating related commitments into legislation and budgeting will be crucial.

Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-Habitat, outlined the importance of urbanization for generating wealth, and called for good rules, regulations and enforcement capacity of local authorities. Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul, Turkey, underlined enhancing democratic governance and strengthening capacity of collecting data at the local level. Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, Member of Parliament of Indonesia, highlighted the potential role of parliamentarians in enhancing the national assessment of SDGs, and advancing the role of women parliamentarians in leadership and decision-making.

Parks Tau, Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, called for cooperative efforts among cities, and stressed the need to clearly specify in the post-2015 development agenda how local authorities could access MOI such as ODA, technology and capacity building support. Ernesto Gil, Legislature of Mexico and President, Global Parliamentarians on Habitat, said parliamentarians are the bridge between society and government, and must join forces for the success of the post-2015 development agenda.

Jennifer Musisi, Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), noted the importance of local authorities’ involvement for implementation, and highlighted KCCA challenges and achievements, including zero tolerance for corruption. Ana Falu, Women and Habitat Network, Argentina, called for placing equality at the center of the post-2015 development agenda, and for better reflecting human rights and social aspects.

Reacting to the presentations, some Member States requested that MOI be commensurate with the level of ambition of SDGs, and that all forms of financing be recognized, with others suggesting to “treat carefully the private sector.” Several delegates called for coherence between FfD 3 and the post-2015 process. The EU and others favored treating the outcomes of FfD 3 and post-2015 development agenda as part of the same framework, while India and others called for “careful consideration” of including MOI in the FfD 3 outcome document.

Many Member States called on developed countries to honor their international commitments, including ODA, with some requesting donor countries to increase ODA. Others called for “better aid,” and asked that enhanced provisions of resources to developing countries be additional to ODA. Some requested an accurate integration of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) in the new agenda. The EU, India and the Republic of Korea, among others, stressed the need to enhance accountability, through, for example, institutional mechanisms for the accountability of global partnerships. Others said reporting methods should not be a burden for small administrations.

Several participants called for strengthening capacities and enhancing North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. Brazil asked for South-South cooperation to be mainstreamed in the UN system and referred to the UN Office for South-South Cooperation. Some delegates underlined the need for promoting science, technology and innovation as well as technology transfer, and voiced support for a UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism.

Member States also underlined the need for: faithful implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration; adequate and predictable financing; policy space and enhanced country ownership and transparency; taking into account the needs of countries in special situations and developing countries; a decision on the full cancellation of multilateral and bilateral debts of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs); adopting resilience building and crisis mitigation mechanisms; reducing remittance and transaction costs; curbing illicit flows at all levels; reforming international financing to avoid global financial crisis; and creating an equitable multilateral trading system and redressing its imbalances.

In addition, participants called for: scaling up infrastructure resources, developing regional infrastructure through support from regional funds and regional banks; and making the best use of existing transportation networks and facilities available to developing countries. They emphasized the need to give a strong role to parliaments and local authorities, and to use parliaments “to bring SDGs to the people.”

Closing the session, Kutesa noted agreement among participants on the needs for: synergies between the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, FfD 3 and COP 21; mobilizing MOI from all sources – domestic and international, public and private; fulfilling ODA commitments; reforming financial institutions; ensuring debt sustainability; concluding the Doha Round; closing infrastructure gaps in energy, transport, water; and involving parliaments and local authorities in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

This thematic debate is one of six high-level events being organized during UNGA 69 as a contribution to delivering on and implementing a transformative post-2015 development agenda. [Meeting Webpage] [UNGA President’s Opening Remarks] [UNGA President’s Closing Remarks] [UNGA President’s Website on Post-2015 Development Agenda and Related Events] [IISD RS Story on Background Note and Programme of High-Level Debate] [IISD RS Story on Interactive Dialogue on High-Level Events] [IISD RS Sources]