I thank you for the opportunity to address the closing session of the ECOSOC Financing for Development (FfD) Forum. The discussions over the past few days have been deeply insightful and illuminating. I am encouraged by the common understanding and sense of collective responsibility towards financing the 2030 Agenda, particularly in the difficult context in which we find ourselves.
You may recall that, as we began 2022 with significant progress in vaccination and the pandemic on the back foot, we thought the worst was behind us. In the UN flagship publication, the World Economic Situation and Prospects – released in January 2022 – we projected that the world economy would grow by 4.0 per cent in 2022 and 3.5 per cent in 2023. Other international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, forecasted similar growth rates.
Unfortunately, much has changed since January 2022. The near-term global growth prospects remain precariously fragile. Added to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing climate crisis, is the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine, all threatening to undo hard-won development gains. Global growth is slowing, with liquidity and debt risks mounting for many countries. Food and fuel prices are on the rise. Geopolitical tensions further exacerbate the situation. Global growth may take an even harder hit if the situation lasts longer. For us to truly rebuild and recover together, we need to double down on our efforts through targeted and coordinated policies and united efforts.
It has long been clear that financing will need to be decisively scaled up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Over the past four days, we have determined the steps needed to get us there. I am particularly encouraged by the Forum’s ambitious, intergovernmentally agreed outcomes. Now is the time for action.
First, we must build greater resilience in our global health architecture. I commend the Forum for reiterating the importance of eliminating financial barriers to access and ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines. Major funding gaps remain for the ACT Accelerator, including its COVAX Facility, and other initiatives to accelerate the development and production of and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
Second, we need to mobilize and scale up financial resources to help countries build economies that are sustainable, inclusive and resilient. Taxation is a crucial tool to help achieve this. Its centrality to the advancement of the SDGs is echoed by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and has been acknowledged in the Forum’s deliberations. Therefore, institutional mechanisms to bolster tax systems and their governance must be prioritised. In addition, international cooperation on taxation must be strengthened.
Third, heeding the Secretary-General’s call to reform the global financial system must include decisive actions to improve the global debt architecture. As financing conditions tighten, this is becoming increasingly urgent, with an alarming number of developing countries already in or at risk of debt distress. In this regard, the Forum’s recommendations to improve the implementation of the Common Framework are most welcome. This should go hand in hand with greater debt transparency and additional efforts to enhance debt sustainability.
Concessional financing is also crucial for countries with limited resources. In this regard, I welcome the IMF’s establishment of a Resilience and Sustainability Trust fund to help low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries achieve their inclusive growth objectives. The Forum’s outcome makes clear that multidimensional vulnerability is an important consideration in the context of concessional financing and, potentially, debt relief.
Fourth, we need to ensure that our recovery efforts are green and just. Scaling up climate adaptation and mitigation finance must be our top priority. The next climate conference, COP27, will present an opportunity for us to take stock of the progress we have made on the commitment by developed countries to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually to support developing countries transition to greener economies and adapt to a changing climate.
Finally, as highlighted in the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report, it is important for us to prioritise inclusive digital cooperation and close digital divides through furthering investments in digital infrastructure, digital skills training and digital literacy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We face unprecedented, interconnected crises. If we do not swiftly reverse course, the 2030 Agenda may fall out of reach. It is a battle we can’t lose.
In closing, I would like to thank you all for your participation and contribution to these efforts. I would like to especially thank the co-facilitators of the Forum’s outcome document, the Permanent Representatives of Grenada and Iceland, whose tireless work has produced a meaningful outcome that advances the commitments of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Together we must ensure the means of implementation of the SDGs to rescue the 2030 Agenda.