Opening remarks by Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Chair of the IATF

Principals-level meeting of the Inter-agency Task Force
on Financing for Development

Distinguished colleagues,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this principal-level meeting of the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development. I appreciate your presence during this difficult time.

Allow me first to thank all of you for your contributions to the 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report. Thanks to your support, we were able to quickly adjust the key messages of the Report and provide an early assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on financing for sustainable development.

The pandemic has brought to the fore many of the risks and challenges that the Task Force had highlighted for several years. These include risks around debt sustainability, excessive leverage, volatility of financial flows, and others.

The timely updates to our report helped drive expansive media coverage in the international press. We had coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post and many other outlets, and significant engagement on social media.

I would welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to further improve dissemination of the report, and better utilization of our recommendations by policy makers. In short, how do we influence decisions with the FSDR?

As in previous years, the report also provided the basis for Member States’ negotiations on the outcome of the 2020 FfD Forum, which was convened on 23 April. The Outcome Document of the Forum was the first universal agreement since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It expressed the international community’s commitment to advance action to fight the pandemic, and achieve a quick, inclusive and resilient recovery.

Member States also tasked us to address the pandemic in next year’s report. They called on the Task Force to address “the impact of COVID-19 on financing for development as well as Sustainable finance”.

Today, I would like to start a conversation on how we respond to this request.

Our proposal is to address COVID-19 and sustainable finance as cross-cutting themes. Each chapter will pay special attention to the immediate crisis response, to the longer-term recovery, and to climate and sustainability considerations. This will be done in its assessment of progress and policy recommendations. I hope that you agree with this cross-cutting approach about the COVID-19 impact.

We propose to bring the main insights from the individual chapters together into a thematic chapter. One that will be focused on risk and

uncertainty in the context of the pandemic and climate change. Managing risk is at the heart of financing for development, including, for example, in investing and sustainable capital markets, debt management, and insurance. Adopting a risk lens would allow the Task Force to provide guidance to Member States for ‘building back better’.

I am looking to you for your insight, advice, thoughts and guidance.

In the interest of time, I will ask you to be very brief, and speak for no more than 2 minutes, so that all partners get a chance to participate.

Thank you.

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