17 July 2018
HLPF Side Event Considers Ways to Leverage SDG Synergies to Efficiently Finance Implementation
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A side event, convened by the University of Sussex, UK, and Government of Ghana in the margins of the HLPF, discussed how to maximize financial resources to simultaneously achieve multiple SDGs.

Panelists outlined synergies and trade-offs in the SDG framework, noting that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to coherent implementation.

While the funds do exist to implement the Goals, discussants highlighted the need for bankable, sellable projects in an enabling environment that also features strong legal protections.

12 July 2018: A side event on the theme, ‘Building on Synergies and Exploring Financing Options for Effective Implementation of the SDGs,’ outlined how managing interactions across the Goal and target framework can accelerate implementation. The event built on a discussion held in March 2018 that unpacked synergies and trade-offs in the SDG framework and identified the steps needed to increase impact.

Co-hosted by the Government of Ghana and the University of Sussex, UK, in the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the side event discussed how to maximize financial resources to simultaneously achieve multiple SDGs. Moderated by Felix Addo-Yobo, National Development Planning Commission, Ghana, panelists explored ways to examine the interlinkages across the SDG framework.

Joseph Alcamo, Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), noted that although financing SDG implementation will not be cheap, efficiencies can be gained by taking advantage of the positive connections among the Goals and targets. Highlighting findings from a roundtable hosted at Wilton Park, UK, Alcamo offered as an example the synergies presented by providing clean cookstoves (SDG 2), which drastically reduce health risks (SDG 3), particularly for women (SDG 5), while producing energy with less wood (SDG 7), positively impacting on climate (SDG 13) and terrestrial ecosystems and land use (SDG 15). These “no-brainers,” he noted, can achieve multiple goals via the same actions, requiring fewer human resources, reducing duplicative efforts, and creating opportunities for collaboration across sectors and ministries.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula for enhancing policy coherence.

Alcamo emphasized the importance of research to not only understand SDG synergies, but also the country context to inform interventions that leverage these synergies. He also highlighted the importance of learning platforms, and of articulating the costs associated with not implementing the SDGs.

Gyan Baffour, Minister for Planning, Ghana, echoed Alcamo, noting that “there is no one-size-fits-all formula for enhancing policy coherence” and that countries need to determine their own institutional mechanisms for SDG implementation. Recalling the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), he emphasized that different SDGs and regions will require different strategies for support, also outlining Ghana’s efforts, which include an SDG budget report on allocations towards each Goal. Referencing a June 2018 meeting on the theme, ‘Financing for SDGs: Breaking Bottlenecks of Investment from Policy to Impact,’ Baffour flagged the annual investment gap in developing countries, estimated at US$2.5 trillion, and noted that private capital is needed, but that most of these sources, such as those of multinational corporations, pension funds, and the insurance industry, do not find their way into SDG-relevant sectors.

Pierre Boileau, UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), described the sixth Global Environment Outlook, on which work began in 2014, just before the SDGs were adopted. The Outlook, he noted, aims to provide a general picture on how implementation of the environmental dimension of the SDGs can happen, and covers impacts on land, freshwater, oceans, air, and biodiversity, as well as cross-cutting topics such as health, food, energy, gender, resource use, and education. However, he noted that it was a challenge of having specialized experts take a “matrix approach,” which looks at different issues from an integrated perspective to give a view of how issues can complement or contradict each other across sectors. Overcoming this, he explained, required incorporation of “speed dating” into the drafting methodology, where experts in one field would sit with those of another to identify common ground.

Gladys Ghartey, Ministry of Finance, Ghana, seconded others who said that the funds to achieve the SDGs are there, but noted that now the question is: “how do you bring together the capital owners and the capital users?” She highlighted outcomes from April 2018 discussions on Financing for Development (FfD), including the need for bankable, sellable projects. Ghartey emphasized that private sector actors and institutional investors are ready to work in enabling environments that can guarantee funds, but that they need to yield a return to adequately compensate their stakeholders. She underscored that such an environment must be backed by a strong regulatory regime, and that complementary legal frameworks are needed. [Building on Synergies and Exploring Financing Options for Effective Implementation of the SDGs] [University of Sussex News Story on Leading Sustainability Experts Calling for More Efficient Approach to Deliver UN Goals] [SSRP Statement from Experts and Stakeholders to HLPF 2018] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

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