Volume 19, No.06 - June 2015

Feature articles

Joint call for nations to invest ahead for people and planet

With less than two months to go, the countdown is intensifying for the Addis Ababa Conference aimed at securing the resources needed for the well-being of people and the health of our planet. In a joint call, the principals of the organizations behind the event urge world leaders to come to the Ethiopian capital ready to commit to a financing plan which will help us achieve our aspirations to end extreme poverty by 2030.

“This year we can make history by adopting our ambitious and adaptive sustainable development agenda, and a universal climate agreement,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “But without the right financing and policies we cannot achieve our ambitions; commitments will remain solely words on paper,” he stressed.

“This year we can make history by adopting our ambitious and adaptive sustainable development agenda, and a universal climate agreement”

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General

Ban Ki-moon’s sentiment is also shared by Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and the Conference Secretary-General, who underlined the critical importance of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development which will take place on 13-16 July.

Mr. Wu pointed to the fact that the means and know-how to eradicate poverty do exist. “While public financing, ODA in particular, continues to be very important, public, private, domestic and international sources of finance will need to be part of the equation,” Mr. Wu said. “Globally, capital is plentiful – the financial resources are there, but they must be unlocked, mobilized, channeled, and used more effectively for sustainable development,” he added.

“Wellbeing of billions of people depends on our success”

UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATIONMr. Ban and Mr. Wu were joined in this video message by the principals of the World Bank, IMF, WTO, UNCTAD and UNDP, as well as the Prime Minister of the host country Ethiopia and they all stressed the importance of this upcoming Conference to mobilize the means to achieve a sustainable and prosperous future.

“History has afforded us the opportunity to make a solemn promise that 15 years from now, we would no more talk of extreme poverty and hunger,” said Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, encouraging UN Member States to be represented at the Conference at the highest possible level.

“The wellbeing of billions of people depends on our success,” stressed Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “If we seize this moment, we can accomplish the greatest achievement of human history: we can end extreme poverty in a generation,” he said, also describing the need to find new and innovate ways to leverage development financing and drive private investment to emerging markets.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, stressed the need for everyone to participate in this joint effort. “We have a collective responsibility, not only to make sure that 2015 is a successful year, but to make sure that 2015 is transformative and improves our future,” she said.

Crucial role of trade to finance sustainable development

“Financing for sustainable development calls for a new 21st century approach to trade and investment issues at large,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE“Trade and investment play a crucial role in raising domestic resources and creating sustainable opportunities. Even more importantly, trade and investment can transform the structure of poor and vulnerable economies, and provide new value and livelihoods to the impoverished and the marginalized,” he said.

Roberto Azevêdo, WTO’s Director-General also underlined the possibility to do more, highlighting their efforts linked to aid-for-trade. “80 per cent of all trade in the world is somehow backed or relies on some type of financing,” he said. “The more vulnerable, the smaller the country, the less access they have to this kind of financing,” he explained. “So we need to do more. […] We’re investing in better global governance and in global growth as a whole,” he said.

“If the Addis Ababa conference on financing goes well, then the prospects of world leaders agreeing on sustainable development goals later this year are good. And so are the chances of achieving those goals over time,” encouraged Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. “So let’s all work together to make the meeting in Addis Ababa on development financing a very big success.”

“Globally, capital is plentiful – the financial resources are there, but they must be unlocked, mobilized, channeled, and used more effectively for sustainable development”

Wu Hongbo
Conference Secretary-General

DraftingSessionNegotiations continue on outcome document

Member States are continuing to negotiate the revised draft of the outcome document, the Addis Ababa Accord, which consists of three main sections, addressing: a global framework for financing sustainable development; an action agenda; and data, monitoring and follow-up.

The action agenda is divided into chapters addressing: domestic public resources; domestic and international private business and finance; international public finance; international trade as an engine for development; debt and debt sustainability; addressing systemic issues; and science, technology, innovation and capacity building.

Co-Facilitators George Talbot, Permanent Representative of Guyana, and Geir Pedersen, Permanent Representative of Norway, have convened two additional informal sessions for Member States to review and discuss the outcome document, on 12-15 May and on 26-29 May, with a third session planned for 1-5 June. The final and third drafting session before the Conference will be held on 15-19 June.

Financing for development blog launched


Outlining the six financing priorities for Addis and the reason why 2015 is key for sustainable development – these are some of the topics for a new blog series just launched on the Conference website. The blog highlights and brings together a variety of perspectives and recommendations on all issues on the agenda for the Conference.

Featured in the launch of this series are blog posts by Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Program Director at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University; Jeffrey D. Sachs, Guido Schmidt-Traub, and Aniket Shah, Sustainable Development Solutions Network; and Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Preparations for the Conference will now enter into its final stretch under the leadership of Mr. Wu, who urges everyone to step up to the plate. “World leaders must rise to the challenge. All together we must show our determination and commitment to invest ahead for people and the planet.”

For more information: Third International Conference on Financing for Development


High-level Political Forum on sustainable development prepares for post-2015


From 26 June to 8 July, the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development will meet for the second time under the auspices of ECOSOC and the third time since its creation. The Forum will have an essential role in steering and reviewing progress towards the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda once Member States adopt them in September. In line with this task, its theme will be “Strengthening integration, implementation and review – the HLPF after 2015″.

“We will need a strong review mechanism to track our progress towards this new ambitious agenda, and the HLPF will be the core platform for this mechanism. At this year’s meeting, the Forum will reflect on how it can best organize itself to perform this role,” said Nikhil Seth, Director of UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development.

This year’s HLPF session will also help to advance reflection and pave the ground for an agreement on the new development agenda ahead of its adoption at the 2015 United Nations Summit, which will be held from 25 to 27 September 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York.

“The Forum helps us focus on the long-term challenges of sustainable development, looking beyond the short-term”

Nikhil Seth, Director of UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development

The High-level Political Forum is a young institution that was created at the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development in 2012.  It provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations. It follows up and reviews the implementation of sustainable development commitments and addresses new and emerging challenges. It also enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

“The Forum helps us focus on the long-term challenges of sustainable development, looking beyond the short-term. It will help keep the compass on commitments and identify new issues that come up”, said Mr Seth.

Strengthening the science-policy interface

The HLPF is also mandated to strengthen the science-policy interface. One instrument employed to this end is the Global Sustainable Development Report, which is presented at the forum to bring the insights and voices of scientists into its work. The Report seeks to bring together the range of existing assessments of sustainable development and review global progress and future pathways in an integrated way, taking into account the perspectives of scientific communities across the globe.

The HLPF brings together Governments, UN system and other organizations, as well as the major groups and other stakeholders of civil society. It meets every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly, and annually under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council.

2015 ECOSOC High-level Segment

The Economic and Social Council High-level Segment will be convened from 6 to 10 July at UN headquarters in New York. It will include the HLPF Ministerial Segment (6-8 July), followed by the final ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and other HLS events (8-10 July), addressing the 2015 ECOSOC theme of “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals (SDGs): What it will take”.

The report of the Secretary-General on the theme is available here. The Council’s consideration of the theme will take place in the overall substantive context of the final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the continued follow-up to Rio+20 and the process for elaborating the post-2015 development agenda.

The High-level Segment will feature high-level keynote addresses in the afternoon of 8 July, followed by sessions that will include: consideration of the lessons from the from the MDGs for the future; focus on LDCs and their specific needs for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda; the Thematic Discussion on the theme “Strengthening and building institutions for policy integration in the post-2015 era” (the report of the Secretary-General on this theme is available here); the High Level Policy Dialogue with the International Financial and Trade Institutions; and the regional dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the UN Regional Commissions.

The Segment will also feature the AMR National Voluntary Presentations (NVPs). Four countries – Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines and Zambia  – will  make voluntary presentations on their progress in implementing the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, and the transformation to the post-2015 development agenda.

For more information:

High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF)

United Nations Economic and Social Council


Modest growth of global economy continues

The world economy continues to grow at a modest pace, with a gradual improvement projected for the second half of 2015 and 2016, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2015 report, launched on 19 May. Growth of world gross product is projected to improve slightly from 2.6 per cent in 2014 to 2.8 per cent in 2015—a downward revision by 0.3 percentage points from the forecast presented in the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 (WESP) in January.

“The current world economic situation is characterised by five ‘lows’: low growth, low trade flows, low inflation, low investment, and low interest rates, combined with two ‘highs’: high equity prices, and high debt levels”

Pingfan Hong
Director of UN DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division (DPAD)

The downward revision reflects mainly deterioration in the prospects of the economies in transition and several large developing countries, especially in South America. In 2016, global growth is forecast to improve to 3.1 per cent, which is still well below the pre-crisis pace.

“The current world economic situation is characterised by five ‘lows’: low growth, low trade flows, low inflation, low investment, and low interest rates, combined with two ‘highs’: high equity prices, and high debt levels”, remarked Pingfan Hong, Director of UN DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division (DPAD).

Growth divergence likely to widen

The report notes that the growth divergence between the various regions will likely widen this year. WESP attributes this in part to the differing impacts from the recent drop in the prices of oil and other commodities.

The short-term growth prospects of most commodity-exporting economies have been downgraded; by contrast, commodity-importers tend to benefit from the lower prices in the form of reduced inflationary, fiscal and balance-of-payment pressures.

The report warns of still significant downside risks to the forecast related to the impact of the upcoming monetary policy normalization in the United States, ongoing uncertainties in the euro area, potential spillovers from geopolitical conflicts and persistent vulnerabilities in emerging economies.

These individual risk factors are interconnected and could be mutually reinforcing, potentially leading to a weaker-than-expected expansion of the global economy. The overall subdued performance of the world economy since the global financial crisis has raised concerns of a “new normal” of lower growth.

The broad-based weakness in investment worldwide not only holds back current growth, but also reduces potential growth in EMBARGOED_19May_12.30pm_WESPmid2015_InfoGraphic_websitethe future.

“It is somewhat concerning that, despite highly accommodative monetary policies and historically low global interest rates, real investment has been weak in many parts of the world since the global financial crisis”, said Ingo Pitterle, the DPAD’s team leader for the report.

Developed economies: growth momentum picking up

Almost all major developed economies are expected to see the growth momentum picking up, with average growth projected to accelerate from 1.6 per cent in 2014 to 2.2 per cent in 2015.

The upward trend reflects a moderately improved outlook for the euro area, where the fragile recovery is gradually becoming more broad-based. Lower energy prices, significant currency depreciation on the back of the European Central Bank’s new large-scale asset-buying program, and some easing of fiscal consolidation pressures are expected to support the recovery.

In the United States, export growth may be dampened by the significant appreciation of the US dollar since mid-2014. Despite expectations of a pick-up in growth, developed economies still face considerable headwinds from the legacies of the global financial crisis, including subdued employment levels, elevated private and public sector debt, and financial sector fragilities.

Policy coordination

The report identifies key challenges in the areas of monetary, fiscal, labour market and trade policies, underlining the need for strengthened international policy coordination. WESP underscores such coordination becomes ever more critical as the Member States of the United Nations are expected to adopt a new financing framework for sustainable development, an ambitious sustainable development agenda, and a universal agreement on climate change later this year.

For more information: World Economic Situation and Prospects