Financing for sustainable development beyond 2015

While the world economy struggles to recover, the challenges and emerging issues of the global slowdown have affected developed and developing countries alike. With a focus to address these pressing issues, UN ECOSOC, the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held a special high-level meeting on 22 April.

Taking place in the wake of the global economic crisis, the high-level event focused on ‘Coherence, coordination and cooperation in the context of financing for sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda’. The meeting was addressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who inaugurated the newly renovated Economic and Social Council Chamber, saying, “let us use this new room for dynamic actions that will have an impact far beyond its walls to help suffering people. Together, we can make our world more just and equitable – and that will make it more peaceful.”

In his opening remarks, ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio called for greater coordination between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions to achieve poverty reduction, trade growth and job creation. Mr. Osorio also stated that given the current high unemployment, geopolitical tensions and the possibility of a climate shock, there was a need for “more forceful and concerted policy actions at both national and international levels to mitigate major risks and ensure a stronger and sustained economic recovery.”

The Deputy Secretary-General called upon ECOSOC to play a crucial role in promoting dialogue among Member States on the post-2015 development agenda, including the issue of financing for sustainable development.

World economic outlook and pursuit of MDGs

As reported in the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2013, released by DESA’s Division for Development Policy and Analysis earlier this year, the world economy is still struggling to recuperate. Growth of world gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to reach 2.4 per cent in 2013, constituting only a slight improvement from the estimated growth of 2.2 per cent in 2012, when the world economy saw a renewed slowdown synchronized across countries at every level of development. This economic downturn has affected the work of sustainable development projects, particularly the pace in reaching the MDG goals.

Since 2000, the MDG framework has helped galvanize international efforts towards the implementation of internationally agreed development goals. The implementation of the MDGs, and particularly MDG 8 on global partnerships for development, gained additional momentum with the outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002, which engendered immediate gains for financing the MDGs, particularly with regards to official development assistance.

During the event, the ECOSOC President also highlighted the importance of a “renewed global partnership” beyond 2015, calling for a new development agenda to be “more structural, inclusive and systematic.”

Strategies to effectively finance sustainable development

Clear and practical measures for implementing sustainable development progress were established to better inform policy decisions. The Rio+20 Conference recognized the need for significant mobilization of resources to promote all three pillars of sustainable development. For this purpose, governments agreed to establish an intergovernmental committee of experts to propose options for an effective sustainable development financing strategy. A dedicated working group under the UN System Task Team on the post-2015 development agenda was established with the objective of mobilizing inputs from the UN system in support of the committee’s work.

International cooperation remains important in facing the challenges for global development. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed that a strengthened Ministerial Review should be a central venue for monitoring the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. He also suggested that the biennial High-level Development Cooperation Forum, which had emerged as a mutual accountability forum within the United Nations system, “could further expand its role as a driver for greater national and global accountability in development cooperation by promoting mutual accountability as an overarching principle in the post-2015 development agenda.”

In her remarks, Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, DESA’s Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, underscored the importance of an effective strategy to finance sustainable development in the follow-up to the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference. She suggested that, “foreign investors will play a significant role and serve to introduce innovation and technology and make sure that countries/companies that are brining FDI, bring in the technology for sustainable development.” She also urged for an increase of official development assistance (ODA) to the level of 0.7 per cent of national income of developed countries.

Effective global governance system

In addition, an effective system of global economic governance would also enhance the global partnership for development through ensuring the participation of all relevant global actors in international policy making and dialogue.

The international community must broaden and strengthen the involvement of developing countries within international economic decision-making while creating partnerships with relevant non-state actors, like the private sector and civil society, in activities and dialogue pertaining to development. An inclusive, flexible and coherent system for global economic governance is necessary at the national, regional and international levels.

Underscoring the importance of coherence, coordination, cooperation, Mr. Osorio pointed to the very basic goal of the international community’s efforts, saying “as long as poverty exists our work will remain unfinished. Let there be no barrier to the heights in which we must soar. In the post-2015 agenda we have committed ourselves to eradicate poverty. We need to think horizontally rather than vertically.”

For more information:
Special high-level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

World Economic Situation and Prospects 2013