ECOSOC18 April 2016: The inaugural session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) forum on financing for development follow-up (FfD Forum) opened in New York, US, with ministers, high-level officials, heads of UN departments and agencies and other stakeholders discussing current global economic challenges, including slow economic growth and massive waves of forced migration, the need for concerted action, and innovative development financing options, as well as their contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA).

Opening the meeting on 18 April 2016, ECOSOC President Oh Joon (Republic of Korea) said the launch of the FfD Forum marks a new chapter in ECOSOC’s history. He recalled that the Forum was mandated by the AAAA to serve as a platform for policy dialogue on FfD follow-up, and tasked with assessing progress, identifying challenges and facilitating the delivery of the means of implementation of sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Member States, UN entities and stakeholders to sustain the political momentum that led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the AAAA, and the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015. He said now is the time for smart investments in people and the planet, “where they are needed, when they are needed and at the scale they are needed.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said spending on young people’s education could deliver the biggest development gains. Toferry Primanda Soetikno, Chairman, IMF/World Bank Development Committee, noted the importance of pandemic prevention and suggested fostering a new market for pandemic risk management insurance. Calvin McDonald, IMF, observed that financial market volatility is rising due to increased terrorist incidents, international migration crises and corruption. Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group, said the World Bank and the UN have identified areas where cooperation is needed, including in data- and evidence-sharing, joint engagement in the field, innovative financing instruments and risk assessment.

Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said monitoring the implementation of sustainable development commitments will be a complex exercise, and the FfD Forum can support the process with adequate planning. Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said the FfD Forum can contribute to coherence of FfD outcomes and identify obstacles and opportunities.

Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), stressed that “we have started off on a bumpy ride” to realize the efforts of the 2030 Agenda, and called for “repurposed” international institutions, refocused expertise and more coherent action. Noting that official development assistance (ODA) flows are at a standstill, he called for addressing the paradoxical relationship between forced migration and support to developing countries. Alfredo Suescum, also of UNCTAD, said UNCTAD can serve as an “incubator of ideas” including on the revitalization of the multilateral trading system and current international investment agreements.

Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on FfD, presented the IATF’s inaugural report, which he said reflects contributions from over 50 UN agencies, programmes, offices and other relevant institutions. He said the report: maps out the commitments and actions contained in the AAAA, including their relationship to the means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); presents the monitoring framework and data sources that would allow for monitoring of progress; and contains more than 100 thematic clusters, each of which contains a number of action items.

Opening the afternoon’s interactive dialogue with major institutional stakeholders on the theme ‘Fostering policy coherence in the implementation of the AAAA,’ Oh highlighted that, at the operational level, cooperation between the UN and other intergovernmental bodies has been strengthened in countries emerging from conflicts and complex emergencies.

Merza Hasan, World Bank, reported that the has Bank redesigned country-specific approaches, sought to improve public-private partnerships (PPPs) and placed greater focus on regional cooperation. Serge Dupont, Executive Director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean Region Member States of the IMF, stressed that inclusion and sustainability are critical for addressing climate change and governance reform, while Matthew McGuire, Executive Director for the US at the World Bank, said policy coherence requires intellectual clarity.

During the general debates that followed, ministers and other officials addressed: the need for increased capacity-building; the importance of creating enabling environments to assist developing countries in achieving the SDGs; addressing unfair trade rules; taking measures against illicit financial flows; fulfilling unmet official development assistance (ODA) commitments; the importance of national ownership in sustainable development; ways of integrating the AAAA and the 2030 Agenda into national plans and priorities; gender equality; climate finance; aid effectiveness; mobilizing the business sector; risk mitigation; and different national experiences. [IISD RS Sources] [Meeting Webcast, Morning] [Meeting Webcast, Afternoon] [Meeting Summary] [FfD Forum Draft Programme]