Mr. Liu Zhenmin Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Closing remarks to the 2018 High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum

Your Excellency, Ms. Marie Chatardová, President of the Economic and Social Council,
Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour to address you at the close of this 2018 High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum.

The 2016 Forum stressed the need for radical change in the way development actors think and act. The ambition, scope and integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda had brought new thinking to the entire development cooperation architecture.

In this 2018 Forum, we had two tasks: take stock of progress in adjusting development cooperation; and identify areas where further action is needed, to build sustainable and resilient societies.

Over the past two days, the main message I heard is clear. We are on the right path of aligning development cooperation to the 2030 Agenda. We have made the shift in mindset. We understand the breadth of development cooperation, financial and non-financial. We understand its strategic importance to achieving the SDGs.

Yet, we need to adapt at a much swifter pace. We need to move out of our comfort zones and try new things, quickly.

Our wrap-up session just now has provided a ‘first cut’ of the key messages and policy recommendations to emerge from the Forum. I will not attempt to summarize them here. But let me echo just a few key messages.

First, this Forum has strongly advocated for the distinct and vital role of ODA, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable countries. Can all stakeholders represented here hold ourselves accountable to discuss specific steps: (i) to ensure that ODA commitments are met; (ii) to bring more ODA to least developed countries and countries in special situations; and (iii) to strengthen effective allocation and use of ODA?

Second, we have to find ways to make development cooperation more risk-informed, conflict-sensitive and, perhaps we could say ‘resilience-smart’, at all levels. This means pushing ourselves out of our sectorial comfort zones. This is tough, but we have the SDGs’ transformative focus on results as our guide.

Third, we must take inclusiveness to a new level. I heard strong calls for development cooperation to put cross-cutting emphasis on gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, and youth inclusion.

Fourth, national development cooperation policies are part of the broader public sector reform and alignment with the 2030 Agenda. They can be a powerful tool for ensuring broad-based country ownership, including through target setting for external partners. Many such policies need further strengthening to engage civil society and private sector.

Fifth, the effectiveness of our partnerships, including public-private partnerships, is context-specific. We have heard excellent examples of partnerships working best when building on existing capacities, inclusiveness, transparency and prior planning and exchange.

We must accelerate work on blended finance, that aligns with country priorities and brings impact for sustainable development. Specific measures are needed to avoid dilution or diversion of valuable public resources needed to advance the 2030 Agenda.
Sixth, South-South cooperation has evolved with the times. Yet, its principles articulated 40 years ago in Buenos Aires, and its voluntary, partnership nature remain pivotal.

We must also recognize the innovation and new development in South-South cooperation. We should explore new ideas and capitalize on the new dynamics to heighten its impact. Policy and knowledge exchange through South-South and triangular cooperation can help countries in similar situations make the right policy choices with longer-term impact.

BAPA plus 40 should reaffirm the principles of South-South cooperation, while capturing the emerging trends to propel a plan of action for all stakeholders. The DCF is a unique and trusted platform to share experiences in both South-South and triangular cooperation.

Seventh, growing scepticism in public institutions poses a real threat to prospects for achieving the 2030 Agenda. How can development cooperation bring innovation and more focused action on the “means of participation” and other efforts to strengthen capacities, but also confidence, in public institutions?

Eighth, I heard a range of ideas for harnessing the new opportunities that digitalisation brings, including in domestic resource mobilization and building statistical capacity. Here, we must be mindful of capacity constraints that remain in some of the poorest countries and communities.

Ninth, monitoring and review is fundamental to the dynamic process of how results are achieved and scaled up for greater impact. It is about translating policies into strategies and action plans, implementing, reviewing, advancing quality and impact over time.

There is huge potential here for more inter-regional and multi-stakeholder learning. There are also continued specific needs for capacity support, among other key findings of the DCF Survey.


I thank all of you, in particular, Members of Parliaments, for your invaluable contributions in the past two days and encourage you to send your own key take-aways and feedback to us, at

I also thank the many support teams in the Secretariat that made this Forum possible, and you, Madame President, for your leadership.

Thank you.

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