23 May 2017
Forum on Financing for Development, 3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)

Concerned about Challenging Global Environment, Economic and Social Council Adopts Text Pledging Concrete Steps to Advance Financing for Development Agenda

Noting that the current global trajectory would not fully eradicate poverty by 2030 target date, the Economic and Social Council’s financing for development follow-up forum closed its ministerial segment today with a pledge to take concrete, immediate steps to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and expedite implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

“We devote ourselves collectively to the pursuit of global development and of ‘win-win’ cooperation, which can bring huge gains to all countries and all parts of the world,” the Council stated in a set of intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations adopted today.

Citing economic factors, such as macroeconomic conditions, low commodity prices, subdued trade growth and volatile capital flows, as well as natural disasters, climate change, environmental degradation, humanitarian crises and conflicts, the Council, in the outcome document, expressed concern about the challenging global environment and its effect on national efforts to implement the Addis Agenda.

Further to the document, the Council encouraged accelerating national efforts and strengthening international cooperation that supported policies and programmes to increase investment in sustainable development and generate full, productive employment and decent work for all.  It recommitted to ensuring that no country or person was left behind, stressing the importance of ensuring that social protection systems and measures for all were consistent with national development strategies, as well as of addressing the diverse needs and challenges faced by countries in special situations.

Recognizing that the effective use of domestic resources was central to sustainable development, the Council emphasized the need for international cooperation in tax matters and stated that it was encouraged by progress in some areas related to debt management.  However, the body noted with concern that access to concessional financing was reduced as countries’ incomes grew, which meant that some countries may lack sufficient affordable financing from other sources to meet their needs.  Moreover, 2 billion people, including those in rural areas in developing countries, still lacked access to formal financial services.

By the text, the Council decided that its third forum on financing for development follow-up would take place from 23 to 26 April 2018 and requested that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development issue an advance unedited version of its report by February 2018.

South Africa’s representative, co-facilitator of the outcome document, said it was substantive, balanced and comprehensive.  The speaker for Belgium, also a co-facilitator, noted that it identified gaps and recommended actions in seven areas, among them infrastructure investment and social protection, to ensure implementation of the Addis Agenda.

However, the United States’ representative, speaking after the text’s adoption, said the document lacked balance and excluded the core principle of a State’s responsibilities.  Her delegation disassociated from paragraph 20, which had called on all States to consider the Sustainable Development Goals in their policymaking, and strongly disagreed with language in paragraph 11, regarding foreign direct investment.  The United States was in the process of reviewing its stance on the Paris Agreement on climate change and related issues.

The European Union delegation’s representative, however, expressed discomfort related to the Paris Agreement.  Firmly committed to the accord, he called on all parties to swiftly and decisively implement it.  A message of firm commitment to mobilizing public and private resources to support developing countries in achieving their mitigation and adaptation goals had not come across so clearly in the outcome document.  In that regard, he called for others to join the European Union to ensure that future resolutions or conclusions better reflected that top priority.

Over the course of the day, the Forum held three ministerial round tables on “steps taken towards implementation of commitments contained in the Addis Agenda and other financing for development outcomes.”

After the round tables, the Forum continued its general debate, hearing from ministers and senior officials of Venezuela, Ethiopia, Philippines, Mexico, Honduras, Madagascar, Switzerland, Belarus, Mexico (also on behalf of Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia), Bangladesh (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community for Latin American and Caribbean States), Portugal, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Republic of Korea, Germany, Guyana, Cambodia, Argentina, Niger, Canada, Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Saint Lucia (on behalf of the Caribbean Community) and Zambia (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries).

The Forum will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 24 May.

Ministerial Round Table I

The Forum held three ministerial round tables on “Steps taken towards implementation of commitments contained in the Addis Agenda and other financing for development outcomes”.

Moderated by Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the first ministerial round table included presentations from Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Relations, Panama; Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission; Admasu Nebebe, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Ethiopia; Karen Singson, Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Privatization and Office of Special Concerns, Department of Finance, Philippines; and Dmitry Pankin, Head, Eurasian Development Bank.  The lead discussant was Saqib Rashid, Principal, the Abraaj Group.

Mr. ZHANG said the round table would serve as an opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned in implementing the financing for development agenda, which was indeed a broad topic.  Revenue mobilization was a central area of focus and a key part of the IMF’s work.  For many countries, domestic revenue remained well below the levels necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  To address that dynamic, countries would need to pursue a coherent revenue strategy in strong coordination with development partners, while also maximizing comprehensive, evidence-based knowledge, when appropriate.

Ms. DE SAINT MALO DE ALVARADO recalled that Panama had hailed the global agreement reached through the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and since that time, her country’s main investment projects directly mirrored the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Panama had the second-highest level of growth in the region and robust investment schemes, many of which were geared towards sustainable development projects focused on such things as clean drinking water and construction plans for new homes.  In the long term, the country’s vision was to fulfil the Goals, seeing them as a starting point for national development that required a tangible, concrete State plan.  As a middle-income country, Panama had pursued robust and out-of-the-box thinking with regard to development cooperation and sought to position itself as an attractive country for investment.  Developing countries must find ways to rapidly respond to global challenges and the needs of their people.  Achieving the 2030 Agenda was not simply a task that required an international architecture; it was also dependent on national responses.

Mr. MIMICA said that almost two years since the international community had agreed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the European Union had taken a number of concrete actions to deliver on its commitments.  At the heart of the new approach was a promise to maximize all means of implementation, including national investment and better use of domestic resources.  The bloc had placed particular emphasis on increasing domestic revenues by fighting tax evasion and tax avoidance and reducing illicit financial flows, while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of development cooperation.  The European Union had allocated €12 million in 2016 and €17 million in 2017 in support of multilateral initiatives managed by the IMF, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the United Nations.  In 2016, the European Union’s official development assistance (ODA) increased for the fourth consecutive year, although he stressed that commitment was not just about being the largest collective donor, but about being the best.

Mr. NEBEBE noted that his country’s development was guided by a medium-term plan that was reviewed and updated on a five-year basis.  All relevant Sustainable Development Goals that were consistent with his country’s larger development aims had been integrated into its national plan.  Ethiopia sought to have robust and sustained growth, as a minimum requirement, he said, recalling that the country had enjoyed double-digit growth for the last 15 years, which he hoped would be a continuous pattern.  Ethiopia had dedicated some 70 per cent of its budget towards sectors that were closely linked with poverty, among them agriculture, health care, education, water and sanitation, and rural energy.  In that context, the country had created a draft development road map with a policy matrix that included an action plan which would be implemented in the next five years.  Furthermore, the country had agreed to review its tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and increase domestic saving from 22.5 per cent at present to 30 per cent by 2020.  Recognizing the need to improve its tax-collection capabilities, the country had also launched its Tax Transformation for Sustainable Development.

Ms. SINGSON said her country enjoyed a high growth rate, with GDP increasing by 6.9 per cent in 2016, which should help the country reduce the poverty rate by 14 per cent by 2022.  The Philippines had benefitted from a low interest rate regime, cheaper oil and the fact that millions of young Filipinos were entering the labour force; while the Government was also working to address the country’s large debt overhang, excessive bureaucratic procedures and widespread corruption.  However, compared to Thailand or Viet Nam, the Philippines was underinvesting by around 10 per cent of GDP annually.  The country’s programme for infrastructure build-up would require large-scale economic investments, which would open many opportunities for investment in financing for development.  Simpler, fairer and more efficient tax procedures were being created, which would lessen the overall tax burden placed on the poor and middle class.  The poverty rate was projected to drop from 21.6 per cent to about 14 per cent, while the gross national income was expected to increase from $3,500 to $4,100 annually.

Mr. PANKIN said that landlocked countries faced specific development challenges including the fact that trade turnover was 30 per cent lower than in countries with sea access, largely due to high transportation costs.  It was clear that the economic situation in such countries was difficult and not easily remedied.  Opening up economies was not necessarily the answer, particularly as one third of landlocked countries were not members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  However, regional cooperation could bring huge benefits for such countries, including lower transportation costs, and increased labour and capital mobility, while also generating lower customs charges.  Institutional capacities and internal investment climates were formidable challenges.  Money was not necessarily the problem in those countries, rather countries simply did not know how to best use the money they had available.  Corruption was another issue that many landlocked countries faced.  The Eurasian Development Bank was supporting infrastructure projects, as well as regional trade and cooperation projects.

Mr. RASHID believed there had been a convergence of trends that would make financing for development even more exciting than it had been in the past.  The Sustainable Development Goals provided a coherent, simple and coordinated road map to act on, and that simplicity would help businesses such as his to channel resources towards achieving the Goals.  Many investors did not believe they would need to sacrifice financial returns in order to maximize impact.  When socially responsible investing started 30 years ago the primary focus was on avoidance.  However, more investors were now willing to take on investments where value could be gained by addressing environmental, social and governance issues.  Furthermore, in the past, development finance was focused mainly on microfinance; however, the ability to affect change would require greater scale.

In the ensuing discussion, a civil society representative noted that an increasing number of countries were experiencing debt crises which resulted in tremendous humanitarian costs.  He called for the establishment of effective institutions to resolve such crises.

Ministerial Round Table II

The second ministerial round table was moderated by Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President for the 2030 Agenda, United Nations Relations and Partnerships, World Bank Group, and featured presentations by Nabindra Raj Joshi, Minister of Industry, Nepal; Tevita Lavemaau, Minister of Finance and National Planning, Tonga; Väino Reinart, Undersecretary of Economic and Development Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia; Tanneh Brunson, Deputy Minister, Budget and Development Planning, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Liberia; and Agustín García-López, Head, Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, Mexico.  The lead discussant was Mpho Khunou, Mayor of Rustenberg and National Chair, South African Local Governments Association.

Mr. MOHIELDIN said that over the next few decades, the world would face enormous pressures, including increased needs for jobs, as well as physical and natural infrastructure.  He expressed regret that the development community had not managed to convince asset managers to better fund infrastructure investment.  Analysis suggested that many pension funds required new sources of investment returns.  Demands would be even greater moving forward, as the younger demographic placed particular emphasis on certain types of infrastructure.

Mr. JOSHI recalled that Nepal had a Constitution that guaranteed the rights of every citizen in an inclusive fashion.  The country had recently held an international summit on investment during which all political parties had committed to pursuing greater economic development.  Nepal could be a model for development, economic growth and inclusion if given adequate international support.  The country was extremely diverse, with more than 125 languages and a wide variety of customs and cultures, yet it had the ability to work in an inclusive and unified manner, as it had done following the 2015 earthquake.  In that context, the Constitution called for every community to have some form of representation within the Government, with the wider goals of greater economic growth and ensuring that the country was attractive for investors.  The country was working hard to ensure that within 10 years, the number of young Nepalese leaving the country to pursue skilled employment would drop considerably.

Mr. LAVEMAAU said his country’s development plan of 2015 was closely linked with the Sustainable Development Goals.  A combination of factors including new construction activities and increased domestic demand for goods and services, as well as increased remittances, were cause for encouragement.  Tonga’s medium-term budget framework was geared towards creating a higher quality of life and its long-term outcomes were designed to ensure that no one would be left behind.  Tonga’s development was focused on promoting a knowledge-based economy, gender equality, good governance, advancing infrastructure and technology, and improving climate resilience.  Furthermore, the country sought to cease external borrowing, except for those cases with high concessional terms and for the purpose of increasing lending to support economic growth and stabilize domestic prices.  The promotion of trade was critical and would have a positive impact on economic growth, and thereby support sustainable development.  Given the fact that a single natural disaster could wipe out decades of positive development, multilateral development banks must increase assistance to small island developing States.

Mr. REINART emphasized that national Governments had a key role in creating an enabling environment to ensure that all parties were brought to the table in  the pursuit of sustainable development.  Twenty-six years ago, Estonia was a country in transition; now it was a high-income country and had demonstrated its commitment to helping others.  A new strategy for Estonian development cooperation and humanitarian aid had been established, based in large part on the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Agenda.  Estonia placed particular emphasis on quality education, development of health care and action aimed at preventing climate change.  His country also advocated for more extensive application of information and communication technology in the framework of development cooperation.  In recent decades, Estonia had greatly benefitted from the implementation of digital solutions, including in the area of governance; which had the added benefit of reducing corruption and increasing transparency.  Estonia had shared its expertise in e-governance with more than 60 countries around the world and had funded projects that increased satellite and internet connectivity in remote, Pacific island States.

Mr. GARCÍA-LÓPEZ recalled that ODA had hit a historic high in 2015, with $140 billion in such aid, yet flows to countries in Latin America had declined and accounted for only 4.6 per cent of that total, which was a historic low.  All countries must give and receive aid depending on their capacities and needs, including ODA, preferential funding, knowledge, exchanges of experiences, access to financing, academic and scientific exchanges, and strengthening the public and private sectors, with a focus on small enterprises.  Development was a universal, multidimensional and complex process, and international cooperation must provide an equally broad framework.  Moving beyond ODA did not mean replacing it with other public resources, but meant finding the proper balance between the different flows of financing, including South-South and triangular cooperation.  Countries must comply with their ODA commitments, particularly the promise to set aside 0.7 per cent of GDP for ODA, and also provide funding to countries in special situations, particularly the least developed countries in Africa.  Such a scenario was not a “zero-sum game”, but rather, the international community must strive to design solutions that created win-win situations.

Mr. KHUNOU noted that growing migration was a major urban development challenge in South Africa due to chronic underinvestment in urban infrastructure.  Besides property taxes, most municipalities in his country relied heavily on electricity as a revenue source, which was a dynamic that was being challenged due to new, innovative energy sources.  As a result, national Governments should consider the diversification of revenue sources.  Most municipal projects could be funded through public-private partnerships, bonds and other innovative funding methods.  He lamented that most municipalities did not have the required resources to invest in infrastructure projects.

In the ensuing discussion, a representative of civil society expressed strong support for aid to the least developed countries, stressing that while the amount of aid provided was certainly relevant, the quality of that aid was also of great importance.  The representative of Ghana recalled that countries had been urged to bridge their infrastructure gaps by prioritizing activities that could be carried out by the private sector.  The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that increasing taxes was the most significant way to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, while the World Bank Group recalled that her organization had helped to finance more than $400 million worth of infrastructure projects in rural areas.

Ministerial Round Table III

The third ministerial round table was moderated by Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and featured presentations by:  Miguel Angel Estuardo Moir Sandoval, Secretary of Planning, Guatemala; Teuea Toatu, Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Kiribati; Modeste Randrianarivony, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Madagascar; Carola Iniguez Zambrano, Undersecretary of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ecuador; and Inger Buxton, Deputy Head of the Global Agenda Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden.  The Lead discussant was Fanwell Kenala Bokosi, Executive Director, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development in South Africa.

Mr. AGAH said it would be interesting to hear Government and civil society views on “implementation areas” of the Addis Agenda concerning international trade as an engine for development, as well as how other commitment areas related to science, technology, capacity and development cooperation were being addressed.  During WTO’s tenth ministerial conference, a ministerial decision was adopted on export competition, eliminating export subsidies, and setting out new rules on export credits, and export state enterprises, related to implementing targets of the Addis and 2030 Agendas.  The entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement was demonstrating how Governments aimed to reduce bureaucracy and trade costs.  Its full implementation could reduce global trade costs by 14.3 per cent and boost trade exports to an estimated $1 trillion annually.  Another Addis commitment delivered by WTO was access to medicine, related to a target on Goal 3.  WTO faced challenges, too, he said, pointing to the debate over subsidies for fisheries.

Mr. SANDOVAL said countries and international organizations should agree on policies so that international action did not jeopardize national development.  While the responsibility for development was primarily with each country, he acknowledged that because of funding constraints assistance and South-South cooperation were needed.  Development gaps required a nuanced approach and a new vision of ODA, especially for middle-income countries.  Since 2014, Guatemala’s national development plan had outlined priorities for the next 20 years and covered 90 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goals.  It aimed to link 2030 priorities with public policies and the public budget, prioritizing food security, nutrition, education and democratic institutions, among other areas.  “We are politically maturing,” he said.  Guatemala’s institutions were stronger and monitoring was better in the justice and tax systems, making administration more efficient and transparent.  Citing the anti-money-laundering law among efforts to combat illegal financial flows, he said Guatemala’s tax burden was one of the lowest in the world at 10.5 per cent of GDP.  On international cooperation, he said its modalities must be reviewed to ensure they aligned with national priorities, while criteria for allocating ODA must be redefined to consider the structural aspects of countries.

Mr. TOATU said the Sustainable Development Goals had been reflected in his country’s national development plans since 1979.  Kiribati had made significant efforts to carry out tax reforms, improve the quality of public spending by focusing it on productive areas, and reform State-owned enterprises.  Yet, a lack of resources and enabling environment had impeded its efforts to achieve the Goals.  Kiribati lacked infrastructure and faced human capacity constraints, geographical fragmentation, climate change and a lack of resources.  “The bottom line for everything we do is money,” he said.  “What is the point of political will and commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals if the financial resources to translate those commitments into action are absent,” he asked?  Financing needs to achieve the 2030 Agenda were in the trillions of dollars annually.  He pressed the Forum to imagine what that meant to small islands dependent solely on fisheries, or spread out over an area the size of India.  Implementing the Goals would require that infrastructure facilities and institutional capacities were in place, roads and schools were built, shipping was improved, durable water and sanitation systems were installed, communication and Internet connectivity was improved and human capacities enhanced.  Donor funding could take two years before being disbursed, which dictated the speed of development.  To mobilize funding, Kiribati had leveraged national savings, created a trust fund and reached out to philanthropic funding sources.

Mr. RANDRIANARIVONY said Madagascar spared no efforts to implement the Addis Agenda.  Its strategy to mobilize domestic resources aimed to ensure a strong rule of law, an effective financial system and strong public-private partnerships, as well as a public service and a local social system that were held to account.  An information monitoring system also worked to mobilize domestic resources.  Madagascar was working to align the Goals with national development plans and had held workshops to raise awareness and better target its efforts.  The Government was committed to expanding its fiscal space to ensure greater macroeconomic stability, he said, noting that efforts to create an enabling environment underpinned all such work.  In 2012, Madagascar had created an assistance coordination structure, and a dialogue group with the United Nations Resident Coordinator to address political obstacles.  Providing financial resources would help Madagascar to carry out institutional reforms, he said, expressing hope his country could fulfil its pledges.

Ms. INIGUEZ advocated stronger efforts to implement commitments made in Monterrey and Doha.  It was crucial to have a proper tax system so that human rights commitments could be achieved.  Unfortunately, participants in Addis Ababa had been unable to achieve what was needed in that regard.  Citing “alarming” reports of large groups of individuals and corporations using different strategies and jurisdictions to avoid taxes, she said:  “It is time to put an end to these actions”.  The international system must be reformed.  Ecuador faced a “disturbing” situation, with an estimated $30 billion hidden in tax havens, which had led to thousands of jobs lost and wealth undermined.  Last February, a national referendum had been held, making Ecuador the first country in the world to say that no one with money in a tax haven could be elected to office.  Unilateral actions to address taxes were helpful only within a framework of cooperation, she said, citing a need for a United Nations body that addressed international tax policies.  The Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters did not have enough money or adequate geographical representation.  “We need a dialogue on cooperation,” she stressed.

Ms. BUXTON said that while monitoring implementation of the Addis Agenda was a complex exercise, its operational nature created favourable conditions for such efforts.  Sweden had put together a report outlining both national interventions and international cooperation efforts to implement the Agenda, with more than 200 examples linked to 70 commitments and action areas.  The report also highlighted challenges in implementing those examples.  With a feminist Government, Sweden had taken steps to ensure gender-responsive planning of the 2017 budget bill, requiring that all policy proposals be presented on the basis of gender equality impact assessments.  Training had been provided for conducting those assessments, which in turn, had created a more systematic use of gender-disaggregated data in the budget bill.  The guarantee instrument used by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency had been designed to absorb risk, unlock capital and promote development.  It also addressed capital access constraints.  Guarantees had been used in such areas as health care, infrastructure and market development, as well as in support of independent media companies.  Developing a guarantee project required long-term commitments from all involved, she said, noting that Swedish development banks were also involved in microcredit.  Building capacity in the area of taxation was needed, she said, noting that Sweden would host an international conference next year on the matter.

Mr. BOKOSI welcomed all efforts to implement fiscal measures focused on women, emphasizing:  “We can be feminist in our approaches without being female.”  The Global Infrastructure Forum should focus on areas other than blended finance and public-private partnerships, and it would make “a great deal of difference” if transparency and accountability measures were in place.  Focusing on domestic resource mobilization, he said the inability to generate revenue related to a lack of cooperation.  He called for an international tax body and said efforts to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio should not target the poorest people.  He called for improving tax cooperation and for national legislation that allowed whistle-blowers to point out wrongdoing.  The Panama Papers were an example of that.  The “mathematical gymnastics” of ODA continued to surprise, he said, stressing that for the last decade, cooperation had not increased much.  Only seven countries had met their pledges to allocate 0.7 per cent of gross national income to ODA in 2015, down from eight in 2014.  He called on donors to monitor ODA allocations so the funds were used to help the most marginalized people.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers took up challenges related to financing for development, with the Cabo Verde delegate stressing the need to break down at the national level the global provisions of the Addis Agenda.  Many countries had solid institutions, rule of law, macroeconomic governance and enabling environments, yet they had not been able to attract foreign direct investment.  Tax cooperation could not come without economic growth.

A speaker from the Society for International Development focused on the need for progressive taxation in order to tackle poverty, underscoring the problem of corporate tax avoidance.  Tackling illicit financial flows was essential and he highlighted the importance of the recommendations by the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows in that context.

A civil society representative pointed to inadequate civil society participation at the United Nations on financing for development.  “We don’t even get visas to join in,” she said, stressing that the Goals must be examined in a cross-cutting manner.

Introduction of Outcome Document

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), co-facilitator, introduced the intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations.  While compromises had to be made on all sides, the outcome document had fully met the high standards Member States had set for themselves, he said, noting that the document was substantive, balanced and comprehensive.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), co-facilitator, said the document reflected current economic conditions and humanitarian crises.  To reverse the current trend, countries had agreed to adjust their national plans.  The document also assessed progress, identified gaps and recommended actions in the seven action areas, including infrastructure investment and social protection to ensure the implementation of the Addis Agenda in light of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The document also included concrete recommendations on strengthening data and the Forum’s decision to hold on 23-26 April 2018 a follow-up meeting.

The Forum then adopted the outcome document.

STEFANIE AMADEO (United States) raised a number of concerns, emphasizing that the non-binding outcome document did not create rights.  She regretted to note a number of issues, including the lack of balance in the document and the exclusion of the core principle of a State’s responsibilities.  The United States was in the process of reviewing its stance on the Paris Agreement on climate change and related issues.  Any effort in the United Nations to speak about the work of the World Trade Organization was unacceptable to the United States.  The United States disassociated from paragraph 20, which had called on all States to consider the Sustainable Development Goals in their policymaking.  On free and fair trade, she said subsidies could adversely affect workers and economies.  She rejected paragraph 9, with regard to State ownership in the economy, and strongly disagreed with language in paragraph 11, regarding foreign direct investment.  Regarding micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, e-commerce platforms could lead to growth.

JOAO VALE DE ALMEIDA, European Union delegation, said the document reflected the transformative nature of the Addis Agenda with a thorough reflection on the need to find new ways to support the 2030 Agenda.  While the text could have been more ambitious, it was a good outcome.  However, he expressed discomfort related to the Paris Agreement.  Firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, he called on all parties to swiftly and decisively implement it.  Remaining committed to mobilizing public and private resources to support developing countries in achieving their mitigation and adaptation goals, he said that message had not come across so clearly in the outcome document.  In that regard, he called for others to join the European Union to ensure that future resolutions or conclusions better reflected that top priority.

General Debate

AJEDRA GABRIEL GADISON ARIDRU, Minister for State of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda, speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, said the continent had the greatest needs and the largest population to be lifted above the poverty line.  However, efforts to address those concerns had been hampered by global economic trends and the recent recession, which had seen GDP levels drop in African States.  Africa must raise large sums while avoiding falling into debt traps.  That balancing act would require action in all seven Addis Agenda areas at all levels, he said, pointing out that Africa’s own resources were being siphoned off due to illicit financing flows.

He said economic growth would be triggered by a range of activities, including innovative measures such as renewable energy use.  In addition, enhanced international development cooperation was needed to address concerns.  Turning to the outcome document, he said conclusions and recommendations had not truly reflected current actions that were needed.  He expressed hope that the Forum’s 2018 meeting would be more successful in that regard.

Mr. Aridru then spoke in his national capacity, saying sustainable national financing strategies functioned as an ecosystem, a principle that had guided Uganda’s implementation of the Addis Agenda.  Inclusion was an anchor for the creation of the required financial ecosystem where all other forms of financing could thrive, he said, noting that Uganda’s banking sector had made services universal, including through mobile money payment platforms, and reforms had aimed at strengthening public finance management and public and private resource mobilization.  Uganda had also adopted policies enabling it to effectively implement the 2030 Agenda while ensuring inclusive participation in the development process.  Challenges existed, including Uganda being home to 1.2 million refugees, and efforts were under way to address those and other pressing issues.

RÉUBEN DARÍO MOLINA, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Integration, Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said capitalism had an adverse impact on development and decent work.  ODA commitments must be met and issues including deep inequalities and a poor distribution of wealth must be addressed.  Developed countries had a responsibility to take action, particularly with regard to cases where they had taken advantage of workers in other countries, with debt relief and forgiveness being important measures to fulfil the historic responsibilities of developed countries to developing States.

ATO ADMASU NEBEBE, State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia, said his country had had the great opportunity to host the historic gathering that resulted in the Addis Agenda.  While national and international actors had taken key steps to implement the Addis and 2030 Agendas, the current trajectory would not allow for reaching those targets by 2030 and it was imperative to take coordinated global action to enable their full implementation.  It was “high time” to revitalize the global partnership to end poverty in all its dimensions.  For its part, Ethiopia was integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development plan and had created an action plan to carry out the Addis Agenda, which aimed to mobilize domestic resources by modernizing tax administration, creating a business climate to increase foreign direct investment and enhancing the private sector’s role as an economic growth engine.  While developing countries must take primary responsibility for their development, ODA was important and he likewise expressed concern that access to climate finance was growing more difficult.

GRACE KAREN G. SINGSON, Under-Secretary and Chief of Staff, Department of Finance of the Philippines, associating herself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the Like Minded Countries Supporters of Middle Income Countries, said the vision of her country’s President was for every Filipino to have an equitable share in national progress.  Among the fastest-growing economies in the world, the Philippines’s development benefitted from $50 billion from remittances and outsourcing, as well a $160 billion infrastructure plan.  Over the next six years, it sought to reduce poverty from 21.6 per cent to 14 per cent.  To that end, it was embarking on an ambitious tax reform programme that would lower rates to those of its neighbours, broaden the tax base and simplify the process.  It had submitted the first of five tax reform packages to exempt most people from paying income tax and to grow the middle class, while still collecting enough from the affluent.  The Philippines also planned to address weak infrastructure, which would create thousands of jobs.

AGUSTÍN GARCÍA-LÓPEZ Head of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation of Mexico, said that the forum came at a pivotal moment and at a time when humanity faced major challenges, although the knowledge and means to put an end to poverty and provide basic goods such as food, health and education to the entire population were available.  Urgent measures were needed to change production and consumption patterns or the serious consequences of climate change would put the viability of humans to the test.  Responsible and robust national policies must be put in place for sustainable development and those policies must address all areas of development.  Multilateralism must be strengthened, as should cooperation for development and open trade based on rules that were clear for all parties and generated a framework for sustainable development.

EFRAIN COREA Presidential Director of Strategic Planning, Budget and Public Investment, Coordinator of the General Ministry of the Government of Honduras, called for greater investment in human development and greater resilience in the face of crises, including those caused by climate change.  Often, access to funding depended on whether countries had exceeded the parameters set out for middle-income countries.  As agreed in Addis Ababa, there must be a broader understanding of what constituted a middle-income country, which reflected the true social and economic challenges that were present in such countries.  In that context, he called for greater focus on the accumulation of data that reflected the real status of countries.  There must be no divergence from commitments made by developed countries, particularly with regard to ODA, while there must be new and innovative funding resources put in place to address climate change.  “We are doing what we can, but we need support,” he said, adding that there was too much “scattering” of external financing.

MODESTE RANDRIANARIVONY, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country had taken several steps, including adopting a national action plan on financing for development, a strategy for reform and an investment programme to encourage job creation and income generation.  Madagascar aimed at mobilizing national resources, including through investment in public-private partnerships.  Despite those and other efforts, the current sociopolitical context, natural disasters and climate change had hampered progress, he said, counting on the international community to ensure that the Addis Agenda would be a lever to achieve gains in reaching development targets.

MICHAEL GERBER, Special Envoy for Global Sustainable Development of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation of Switzerland, highlighted a number of issues, including the importance of meeting ODA obligations and that multilateral development banks played a key role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  For its part, Switzerland had partnered with Ethiopia to organize an event to address asset recovery in support of sustainable development.  However, some trends ran counter to global goals, including drops in trade and cross-border investment, as well as calls for protectionism.

VALENTIN RYBAKOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said despite progress, subdued trade flows and humanitarian crises were among the issues that had plagued some countries’ efforts towards achieving development goals.  Commitments made in the Addis Agenda must be honoured, including with regard to ODA.  Difficult financial and economic situations should not be used as a pretext for ignoring middle-income countries, he said, urging the United Nations to consider better ways to address those States’ concerns.  The dual role of middle-income countries meant that they could receive and give assistance, he said, expressing interest in multilateral trade and new WTO members.

Mr. GARCIA-LOPEZ, speaking for Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia, believed that mobilizing public and private investment in quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including for renewable energy sources, connectivity, transportation, water and sanitation, as well as information and communications technologies, was essential for achieving many of the Goals.  The link between promoting science, technology and innovation and inclusive growth should be emphasized, while international development cooperation could help assure that no one was left behind.  The mobilization and effective use of domestic resources was an essential element of financing for development, and in that regard, he called for further strengthening of international cooperation in tax matters.  He also stressed the importance of further expanding financial inclusion across all segments of society, including women and youth was also noteworthy.

SULTANA AFROZE, Additional Secretary of the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry for Finance of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the co-facilitator’s text for the Forum outcome did not reflect the commitment required for implementing the Addis Agenda or the 2030 Agenda.  Rather, it reflected the minimum of what the Addis Agenda had requested regarding climate finance, trade, technology transfer, international cooperation on tax matters, illicit financial flows and asset recovery.  Its language should not be used in future commitments to advance financing for development.  Least developed countries had only made limited progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, due to unmet ODA commitments, limited productive capacity and growing debt burdens, among other things.  She thus called on partners to ensure the full implementation of the Addis Agenda.

Moreover, she said, serious efforts must be made to resist protectionist trade measures, with least developed countries receiving duty-free, quota-free market access for all their products.  She urged partners to consider setting a target of 0.20 per cent of gross national income for ODA to least developed countries within the 2030 time frame, as outlined in the Addis Agenda.  As domestic resource mobilization would require greater reliance on domestic savings, higher export earnings and improved capital flows, partners should work to optimize synergies among domestic resources, aid, trade, private capital flows and debt relief.  The Forum should hold a session on the investment promotion regime for the least developed countries, as decided by the Council last year, she said, urging the Council to dedicate a three-hour session to that topic.  She also called on States to establish an international investment support centre to provide a one-stop arrangement to stimulate foreign direct investment in least developed countries.

HÉCTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed the region’s commitment to gender equality and called for fulfilling pledges to allocate 0.7 per cent of gross national income to ODA, which was still needed to reduce inequality and structural gaps.  He supported the use of multidimensional factors to assess development in determining the amount of ODA to provide, stressing that the definition should go beyond per capita income to acknowledge various countries’ vulnerabilities and capabilities.  South-South cooperation was a supplement to triangular and other forms of cooperation.  Further, indebtedness negatively impacted resources that would otherwise go to the 2030 Agenda and he stressed the need to promote tax regulations and support for intergovernmental efforts to combat corruption, money-laundering and tax havens.  He rejected tax measures that obstructed financing for development and economic and social development, calling also on Governments to ensure sufficient funds for migrants in countries of origin and destination, and to reduce to 3 per cent the amount of money transferred.  The Community was committed to finding common solutions to global challenges.

GONÇALO TELES GOMES, Vice-President, Camões-Institute for Cooperation and Language of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, associating himself with the European Union, said implementing the Addis Agenda involved looking beyond finance to a range of domestic, international, public and private means to support the Goals, while underlining the importance of good governance, an enabling domestic environment, trade and private-sector engagement.  While ODA was important, follow-up plans must include a strategy to unleash new forms of finance from all possible sources and in volumes that “far” exceeded ODA.  Countries must set national development priorities and evaluate opportunities to engage with the private sector, civil society and others.  That involved adapting national structures to the 2030 Agenda, as well as greater policy coherence and an emphasis on results.  Portugal was identifying new forms of collaboration and adapting its institutions to challenges stemming from the decline in ODA; it was drawing on European funds and those from multilateral bodies, as well as exploring opportunities through trilateral and triangular cooperation.

ANOUPHARB VONGNORKEO, Director-General of the Department of International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, associated himself with the statement of the Group of 77 and the Least Developed Countries, saying that his country had reformed domestic policies, including public financial management.  It had improved revenue administration through modernized, progress tax systems, improved tax policy and more efficient tax collection.  The contributions made by all partners were important for ensuring sufficient resources were available to implement national development plans.  ODA represented a major source of financing and should, therefore, be maintained and targeted at eradicating poverty in all its dimensions.  The strengthening of South-South and triangular cooperation was important, although both should remain complimentary to North-South cooperation.

LEE KYOO HO, Director of the Development Policy Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said the outcome document was sufficiently substantive and balanced.  The Goals would only be achieved when they were well matched by concrete actions including a proper mix of financial and non-financial means of implementation.  Tax revenues were the most reliable resource of financing development, although many developing countries were unable to fully realize their potential due to weak institutional foundations, narrow tax bases, inefficient tax administration, limited capacity and low tax compliance.  He stressed that the shared principles of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation were increasingly relevant to the implementation of the Addis Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.  Faced with large financial gaps, the private sector needed to be actively engaged in the global efforts to pursue sustainable development by improving the investment environment and reducing risks in developing countries.

KATHARINA PETER, Head of the Financing for Development and Donor Partnerships Division of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, said much had been achieved since the Addis Agenda was adopted.  Strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships was essential to unlock further potential.  At the national level, evidence-based reform was among the elements vital to achieving further progress.  A full range of financial resources were needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Tax issues must be examined to support an enabling national framework.  To enhance those and other similar efforts, she said a Forum toolkit was needed that could help to produce context-specific recommendations.  For its part, Germany had met its ODA obligations and was strongly committed to the Addis Agenda and the implementation process.

RAWLE LUCAS, Advisor on Trade and Investment to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana, said that as a former heavily indebted poor country, Guyana had identified three priority areas to inspire growth, creating a more meaningful measure of development progress and underpinning confidence in providing the means to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Because Guyana’s entire GDP depended on international trade, there were concerns about the future of commodity prices.  Finding merit in the call of the Inter-Agency Task Force to create a virtuous cycle of growth by securing higher investment levels, he said Guyana had committed to strong actions to promote sustainable development, including greater prosperity for all its people.  That included a continued decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation and conservation measures.  As Guyana was weaning itself off ODA and finding onerous loan conditions, the international community must examine that issue to prevent the debt crisis that had emerged in the 1980s.

THENG PAGNATHUN, Director-General of the Ministry for Planning of Cambodia, said that over the last 20 years, his country had enhanced cooperation with others in the region and around the world.  It had registered 7.7 per cent annual economic growth, while poverty had fallen from 53 per cent in 2004 to 13.5 per cent in 2014.  It was preparing to become a lower-middle-income country, making the 17 Goals most relevant, and it would incorporate the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnances as an additional goal to fully reflect the situation in the country.  It had begun technical and political discussions with Government agencies, development partners and civil society in 2015 as a way of localizing the Goals into the national context, while ministries had been requested to select the targets and indicators most relevant to the Cambodian context.  Criteria had been set reflecting the definition, responsible agency, data source and a method of calculating the value of each indicator.  The private sector would play an important role in mobilizing domestic resources, he said, requesting extended support to least developed countries.

ANA VAERIA CIUTI, Director-General for International Cooperation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, endorsing the statement by the Group of 77, said the Forum was the correct place to promote strategies, policies and the required means to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  At a time when political interests were becoming a challenge, efforts must be made to ensure cooperation.  To achieve the Goals, the situations of individual countries must be taken into account.  The international community must foster a favourable environment for developing countries to participate in global trade, with greater efforts needed to reduce asymmetries.  International support must also bolster global cooperation.

BOUBACAR ADAMOU, Director-General for Multilateral Relations of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Niger, associating himself with the statement by the Group of 77, said since the Addis Agenda had been adopted, results had been insufficient.  For its part, Niger had implemented reform policies to, among other things, improve the business climate in order to attract investment.  However, drought and demographic growth were affecting progress.  In addition, the situations in Libya, Mali and the Lake Chad region had led to greater levels of security expenses to preserve Niger’s territorial integrity.  Moving forward, efforts should be made to bolster efforts to improve resource mobilization.

LAIRD HINDLE, Deputy Director of Development Policy Planning of Global Affairs of Canada, said development must be approached differently.  The Forum was the main platform to review the Addis Agenda, which was gender responsive so as to not leave women and girls behind.  Indeed, the economic empowerment of women could result in an 11 per cent increase in global GDP.  The Addis Agenda supported the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by addressing all sources of financing and by encouraging more cooperation on science, technology, innovation and capacity-building.  To reduce the financing gap, the global flows of ODA must be better used to leverage increased investment from new funding, especially from the financial sector.  For its part, Canada had bolstered its engagement on key financing for developing issues, including partnering with multilateral development banks and the private sector.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, endorsed the statement by the Group of 77.  The Addis Agenda had recognized the vulnerabilities and peculiarities of small island States, which faced rising sea levels, as well as unique trade barriers.  Scattered populations across far distances further presented challenges to efforts to implement climate action.  Small island developing States must remain on the front lines of climate action, he said, emphasizing the importance of capacity-building.

He said short-term domestic interests could not and should not shift the fate of the planet.  All stakeholders must work hard towards making progress on sustainable development initiatives.  He hoped the Forum would continue to serve as a model for effective follow-up actions to the Addis Agenda.  However, he was concerned about the watered-down language in the Forum’s outcome document.

COSMOS RICHARDSON (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States.  Noting the Inter-Agency Task Force report’s usefulness in Forum deliberations, he emphasized that the world economy had grown slowly and the Community’s States had been affected in myriad ways, including that progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals had been hampered.

To achieve the Goals, he said, emphasis must be placed on key aspects of financing.  Appropriate policy guidelines must ensure that all financial flows — from public to private and from domestic to global — were aligned with sustainable development objectives.  Different stages of development and the various needs of development countries must also be considered, he said.  For small island developing States, for example, appropriate approaches must be created.  Highlighting another concern, he said that recent trends in corresponding banking relationships had negatively affected businesses and foreign investment in Member States.

CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said both the Addis Agenda and the 2030 Agenda recognized the unique challenges facing those countries and the importance of international trade as the means to implement the latter.  However, landlocked developing countries could not fully harness trade for development due to the high costs of transport from seaports, poor transport and transit systems, and cumbersome border procedures.  They also performed poorly as hosts for foreign direct investment.

Stressing the need to strengthen transport, energy and information infrastructure, as well as ODA to support attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said multilateral financial institutions and regional banks should address gaps in transport and transit-related regional infrastructure, and consider special instruments to help landlocked countries attract new financing, including through blended finance.  The Global Infrastructure Forum should devise innovative solutions to meet their unique needs, he added, stressing that improved trade facilitation, through streamlining and harmonizing customs and transit procedures, and coordination of border clearance agencies, would help exports from landlocked countries become more competitive.

For information media. Not an official record.