Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Remarks at Panel on Safeguarding Financing for Sustainable Development

Ambassador Martin Sajdik,
Secretary-General of INTOSAI, Mr. Josef Moser,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this Panel on Safeguarding Financing for Sustainable Development. I thank the Permanent Mission of Austria for co-organizing this Panel, and I welcome Mr. Josef Moser, Secretary-General of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions – INTOSAI- and President of the Austrian Court of Audit.

The United Nations and INTOSAI share a history of over 40 years of supporting capacity-development in auditing through professionalization and standard-setting, particularly in developing countries.

On the United Nations side, this cooperation has been ongoing through DESA’s Programme on Public Administration and Finance, which supports Member States in the areas of effective and efficient public administration and responsive and accountable public governance.

Only this past March, the 22nd biennial UN/INTOSAI Symposium was held in Vienna.  It was recommended that INTOSAI, through a working group, monitor measures to mitigate the risks of waste and loss of public funds and provide technical advice to member States.

In addition, it  also encouraged UN Member States and relevant UN agencies to implement the UN General Assembly resolution on promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions (A/RES/66/209).

This morning, I would like to highlight the importance of financing for sustainable development, not only from a new and innovative “sourcing” perspective but also from an effective and accountable “spending” perspective. 

Only by thinking through the financial management cycle in its entirety can we assure all stakeholders of a workable, regulatory, implementation and accountability framework. 

Such assurance will give the traditional donors and new partners the confidence to participate in public-private partnerships and multi-stakeholder consortia for financing the much-needed large and small initiatives of sustainable development.

From a “sourcing” angle, funding is one of the key factors to the full implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  Given the continuing impact of the global financial and economic crisis, funding will be even more important for the post-2015 development agenda, including funding for sustainable development initiatives.

Indeed, funding continues to be sought from government budgets at the national level, and official development assistance at the international level.  This will continue, through strengthening international development cooperation.

However, other sources, streams and mechanisms of financing are taking on increasingly important roles.

Decision-makers are aware of the changing landscape of development financing, including the private sector and philanthropic giving, among others.  To properly attract these new sources, there should be in place an alignment of incentives and accountability measures that address the needs of all stakeholders. 

Experience also shows that to attract private sector financing through foreign direct investment, governments must put in place an enabling business environment. 

However, some countries, particularly those emerging from conflict, may lack legal systems that consistently enforce contracts and protect intellectual property rights. 

We must overcome this barrier by helping those countries develop the essential human and institutional capacity through increased capacity building support. 

Not only should aid increase but also its effectiveness.  This point leads me to the “spending” perspective. 

In Rio last year, Member States stressed that “fighting corruption and illicit financial flows at both the national and international levels is a priority and that corruption is a serious barrier to effective resource mobilization and allocation and diverts resources away from activities that are vital for poverty eradication, the fight against hunger and sustainable development.” 

Member States in Rio+20 agreed to establish an intergovernmental committee of experts on financing strategy for sustainable development to advise them and propose new options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy. 

Although the main focus of the work of the Committee is on mobilization of new resources, I believe it is important that the Committee also works on the development of an appropriate framework of accountability for public expenditure.

Establishing accountability for public expenditure will not only assist in fighting corruption, but also in increasing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of public investments and financing for sustainable development programmes and projects.

Today’s panel can kick start the discussion on this critical issue.

I thank you for your attention, and look forward to your fruitful deliberations.