The Third International Conference on Financing for Development in July presents a unique opportunity to agree on a global plan to finance sustainable development, paving the way for a successful UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda and a universal agreement on climate later this year. As the countdown continues with a series of preparatory events, the global community is getting ready to invest ahead – for people and planet.
Drafting sessions; hearings with business sector and civil society; spring meeting events of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and of the World Bank and IMF; and regional consultations – these are some of the many recent events taking place as preparations intensify for the Financing for Development Conference to be held in the Ethiopian capital on 13-16 July.
“The resources are there, they need to be effectively mobilized, channeled and used for the purpose of sustainable development”
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
“Financing the new sustainable development agenda is a challenge, but it is possible,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of this upcoming conference. “The resources are there, they need to be effectively mobilized, channeled and used for the purpose of sustainable development,” he said at a press briefing held in conjunction with the ECOSOC Special high-level meeting on 20-21 April with the World Bank, IMF, WTO and UNCTAD. He also pointed to some of the obstacles yet to overcome, including corruption, tax evasion and illicit financial flows.
Partnerships crucial for successful outcome
“Too much is at stake,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he addressed the opening of the event, underscoring the need to identify and tackle the root causes of the biggest challenges to economic growth. He also urged governments, the business sector and civil society to work closely together to push forward the post-2015 development agenda.
“The post-2015 development agenda is ambitious. The financing needs are enormous. They can be met if we work together but we will not succeed unless we forge a partnership and learn the lessons of the current global economy,” he said, also describing the opportunities of the Addis Ababa gathering to devise a politically inclusive development agenda.
Ban Ki-moon also highlighted three things which the outcome must provide. “First, a cohesive and holistic financing framework for sustainable development; second, concrete deliverables, particularly in crucial areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, social needs, and support for small- and medium-sized enterprises; and third, a strong follow-up process to ensure that no country is left behind.”
Back to back events to prepare for the Conference
April has been an intensive month with back to back events arranged to prepare the world community for the upcoming Addis Conference and the agreement expected to be reached there. Regional consultations have continued with events in Amman, Jordan on 7-8 April and in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 29-30 April.
Taking place in parallel with the high-level ECOSOC event, a special session was also held at UN Headquarters on 21-24 April. UN Member States then considered proposals to align the Conference outcome with the new sustainable development agenda that will be adopted this September. At the core of this new agenda, which will be valid until 2030, are 17 proposed sustainable development goals.
Despite the financial crisis, opportunities are there to mobilize resources to fund this agenda. According to the recent report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing, global savings from public and private sources totals $22 trillion a year. The report suggests that “even a small shift in the way resources are allocated would have an enormous impact.”
At the IMF / World Bank Spring meetings in Washington D.C. on 17-19 April, the UN Secretary-General and Mr. Wu raised the profile and importance of the Financing for Development Conference and secured the support and cooperation of key partners to push for an ambitious outcome in Addis Ababa.
Ban Ki-moon highlighted the main goal of this year of global action: “to eradicate poverty and create shared prosperity.” He also pointed to the expected gains of this transformation saying that “it can be a catalyst for [economic] growth that is cleaner, more sustainable and more equitable. As leaders of public finance, you can help plant the seeds of this transformation.”
The way forward for financing for development and the expectations that the world community has for the upcoming conference, were also discussed by Mr. Wu and other panellists at the IMF seminar “Financing for Development: The Way Forward,” held on 17 April as part of the Spring Meetings.
Negotiating ways to finance sustainable development
On 13-17 April, negotiators from 193 countries convened for the second drafting session of the ‘zero draft’ of the outcome document of the Conference – known as the Addis Ababa Accord, sharing their comments and providing concrete suggestions on the text. The process is “moving towards a conclusion,” said Ambassador George Talbot of Guyana, one of the two co-facilitators of the preparatory process. He called upon UN Member State representatives to “keep the level of ambition high” to ensure an “ambitious outcome” in Addis Ababa this July.
During this session, Conference Secretary-General Wu Hongbo also presented the new conference website as well as the new logo. Further consultations on the ‘zero draft’ document will be held in May, ahead of the third and final drafting session which will take place in New York between 15 and 19 June.
“2015 is perhaps the most important year for development since the founding of the UN 70 years ago”
The views and inputs from the business sector and civil society were also heard and taken into consideration during informal interactive hearings on 8-9 April. Their involvement in outlining a successful new agenda and being part of the creation of a financing framework was stressed at this event.
“I urge private sector leaders — including CEOs — to join us in Addis Ababa, and to consider new commitments for investment in sustainable development – including in the vital area of infrastructure,” Ban Ki-moon said at the opening of the hearings.
Taking all the necessary actions to get ready, the United Nations, its partners along with the international community, are now approaching the first of this year’s milestone events. It has the potential of unlocking much needed resources, bringing us closer to the future we want.
The expected significance of this year, for generations to come, has also been stressed by the Secretary-General on numerous occasions. “2015 is perhaps the most important year for development since the founding of the UN 70 years ago,” he said at the recent Spring Meetings in Washington D.C.