15 December 2016
Plans Underway for 2017 Global Infrastructure Forum
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The Financing for Development Office of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs briefed UN Member States on plans for the 2017 Global Infrastructure Forum, which will convene in April 2017 at IDB headquarters in Washington, DC.

On behalf of the Inter-Agency Task Force on FFD, FFDO also provided an update on preparations for the 2017 report on FFD follow-up.

21 November 2016: The Financing for Development Office (FFDO) of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has briefed UN Member States on plans for the 2017 Global Infrastructure Forum and preparations for the 2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on FFD.

The Global Infrastructure Forum was called for in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) adopted in July 2015. In a briefing to governments and others on 7 November 2016, Shari Spiegel, FFDO, reported that at the first session of the Forum in April 2016, it was agreed that the leadership and hosting of future sessions of the Forum will rotate among the multilateral development banks (MDBs). She said the next session of the Forum will take place on 22 April 2017, at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) headquarters in Washington, DC, during the Spring Meetings, with its organization led jointly by IDB and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The outcome is expected to be a Chairman’s statement, to be negotiated by the MDBs and other partners.

Spiegel noted that the Forum aims to ensure the infrastructure investment gap is filled, and to ensure infrastructure is sustainable, resilient and helps to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On the relationship with the UN system, she added that preparations for the Forum take place in coordination with the UN system, and outcomes are reported to Member States via the annual ECOSOC Forum on FFD Follow-up (FFD Forum).

Thomas Barrett, EIB, said the 2017 session of the Global Infrastructure Forum will aim to: reflect all MDBs’ collective experience; showcase the best practices in a fragmented, complex area, reflecting a “fully global view;” help find natural partner among various players; and show that the vast majority of funding must come from either domestic sources, the private sector, or international capital flows, while public funds can provide a catalytic, leveraging effect. In response to a question from a foundation, he said there are not always “bankable projects” to make a business case for private sector investment, so public sector involvement is also needed.

Barrett said the 2017 Forum will include some new elements, including: advancing sustainable infrastructure as the centerpiece; highlighting cross-border, regional and connectivity projects; giving a significant role to national development institutions to reflect a diversity of experiences; and increasing outreach to bring in participants from beyond the Spring Meetings. Finally, Barrett noted that in the organization of the 2017 Forum, each MDB will have responsibilities and will bring out best practices from their region, and that the organizers will work in consultation with the UN and other partners, and ensure a “large tent” including UN agencies, G20 and G77 members, and other appropriate bodies. In response to a question from a civil society representative, he said civil society is involved in all sections of the Forum, and the session will be inclusive.

Bjorn Gilsatter, World Bank, said the key message of the Forum is the need for more spending on infrastructure, and to spend better and more efficiently. Pablo Pereira, IDB, noted that “infrastructure has a coordination problem,” and the Forum is where the problem can be faced.

On the work of the FFD Task Force, FFDO provided an update on 21 November. Spiegel, who serves as the Task Force coordinator, recalled that the mandate and terms of reference of the Task Force call for it to: report annually on progress on implementing FFD outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda; advise the intergovernmental follow-up process on progress, implementation gaps and recommendations for corrective action; and to inform Member States’ deliberations on implementation of FFD outcomes at the FFD Forum, and on means of implementation for the SDGs at the annual session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Alex Trebelkov, FFDO, said the structure of the 2017 IATF report should be three-pronged, per Member States’ agreement at the 2016 session of the FFD Forum. The prongs of the report are to be: 1) discussion of global context, implications for FFD follow-up process; 2) overview of each chapter of the AAAA, highlighting synergies between chapters, including pertinent updated data, issues, while covering a broader set of commitments and action items, in an online annex; and 3) specific thematic issues, at the request of Member States. On the thematic issues prong, Trebelkov noted the need for clear guidance from governments and other stakeholders, ideally in the form of a declaration or resolution, as is the case with HLPF and the ECOSOC High-level Segment, he said. He asked for the guidance on thematic issues as soon as possible. UNCTAD reiterated that the sooner a theme is identified, the better.

Some governments, including Australia, Canada and US, suggested that the theme has already been addressed, including through A/RES/70/299 on alignment with the annual HLPF theme, and they argued that the discussion is “closed.” FFDO noted that the HLPF theme is very general and should be narrowed down in order to provide a useful report. The theme for the 2017 session of the HLPF is ‘eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity and social protection.’ The World Bank noted that its 2017 World Development Report will focus on governance.

The Task Force also reported progress on an online annex, which includes a map of links between the SDGs and commitments made in the AAAA. Spiegel added that the Task Force is working on four “work streams:” social protection; illicit financial flows (IFFs); total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD); and capital markets. She noted that on IFFs, there is no agreed definition, and the work stream is exploring how to calculate its various components. On TOSSD, she said the Task Force’s work focuses on the recipient perspective.

UNCTAD informed participants that it will begin forming an intergovernmental expert group on FFD in early 2017. The World Bank, IMF, WTO, UNCTAD and UNDP are the institutional stakeholders in the FFD process. [IISD Sources]

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