“We need more money to implement the Sustainable Development Goals”
Putting sustainable development finance front and center, more than 30 government ministers and senior officials, as well as hundreds of representatives from the private sector, civil society and the international system came together for the 2019 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum on 15-18 April 2019.
“2019 is a defining year for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. So far, we are not keeping pace. We face serious challenges and evolving risks,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as he gave opening remarks at the forum. Painting a dire and demanding landscape, Mr. Guterres summed it up: “Simply put: we need more money to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.”
To make this happen, he made the case for the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, saying that it is “our blueprint for the global partnership to finance sustainable development. Everyone, and particularly developed countries, must meet their commitments in full.”
The high level of attendance and activity at this year’s Forum showed how development finance is moving towards the centre of discussions—and action—for SDG achievement. In addition to the Secretary-General, the meeting was opened by the ECOSOC President, the President of the General Assembly and senior executives from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group and World Trade Organization.
Keynote addresses were delivered by Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, and Raghuram Rajan, Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. At the opening, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin also presented the recently launched Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2019.
Throughout four days of interactive discussions and dozens of side events, participants focused on current economic and non-economic trends and their impact on financing for development and the implementation of the Addis Agenda. At the end of the week, Member States adopted the intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations of the 2019 Forum.
The event saw broad agreement that the current challenges arising from the global economic environment and climate-related disasters highlight the need for global action to achieve the global goals. Although the current context presents difficulties, it also provides opportunities for revamping multilateral arrangements in support of sustainable development and financing. At the same time, national strategies and policies to mobilize financial resources remain central. Some countries are at the forefront of designing and implementing their integrated national financing frameworks, and national demand for further analysis, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building in this area was strong.
Running alongside the Forum on 15-17 April, the SDG Investment Fair brought together more than 400 representatives from governments and the investment community, as well as from development finance institutions, academia and civil society to discuss urgent actions on closing the SDG investment gap.
In conjunction with the Fair, the Secretary-General also announced that he will convene the “Global Investors for Sustainable Development,” a CEO-driven alliance that will focus on creating long-term investments for sustainable development by addressing policy and institutional obstacles.
Participants emphasized the need for urgent action to increase the contribution from the private sector to realize sustainable development while avoiding “greenwashing”. Private sector representatives made clear that there is a growing appetite for investment opportunities that have impact in addition to returns.
“We have no time to waste to achieve the goals by their 2030 deadline and fulfil the promise we made four years ago, to build a world of dignity for all,” said Mr. Liu as he addressed the fair. “Public and private incentives need to be aligned with sustainable development so that sustainability becomes a central element of all financing and investment decisions.”
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