New York

12 April 2022

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Press Briefing on the Launch of the 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us for this important launch.

I am pleased to present the 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report. The report is produced by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with more than 60 international agencies, including the UN System, and international financial institutions.

This report comes at a critical moment for humanity.  Adding to the compounding crises of climate, assaults on our natural systems, and the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, the fall-out from the war in Ukraine is rapidly impacting food, energy, and finance across the globe.  Without immediate policy action the window for delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will close.

Yet, instead of action, once again we are seeing the countries the least responsible for a crisis pay the highest price.

An estimated 77 million more people were living in extreme poverty compared to before the pandemic.

People in the world’s poorest economies are increasingly bearing the brunt of climate-related economic losses.

Our analysis indicates that 1.7 billion people, are facing exposure to spiking food, energy, and fertilizer costs as a result of the War in Ukraine.

To address these proliferating global threats and ensure developing countries are not left behind, the Secretary-General has mobilized a Global Crisis Response Group working to address the fallout on Food, Energy, and Finance.

The Crisis Group will also aim to tackle a key enabler of the cascading crises currently taking place -- a global financial system that favours the rich and punishes the poor.

During COVID-19, while developed countries were able to borrow at ultra-low interest rates to support their economies, developing countries found themselves faced with both shrinking fiscal space and prohibitively high borrowing costs in markets.

As a result, many were forced to cut spending in areas critical to the SDGs, such as in social protection, health and education systems and decent jobs, all needed to end the pandemic, increase resilience to future shocks and provide the foundation for prosperity.

It is creating a legacy of inequality that will only undermine countries’ ability to survive future crises, while sowing the seeds of greater discontent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international community has taken important steps to mitigate the pandemic’s socio-economic fallout, including through the large-scale provision of emergency financing and the creation of debt relief instruments. But more is needed to close the recovery gap, address the risks of debt distress, and secure a better future—for our children, and ourselves.
The recommendations in today’s new report point to a way forward.

  • First, the international community must urgently address financing gaps and rising debt risks. It would be a tragedy if donors increased their military expenditure at the expense of Official Development Assistance and climate action. And it would be a tragedy if developing countries continue to default, at the expense of investments in social services and climate resilience.
  • Second, policy makers must ensure that financing is aligned with the SDGs and climate action. This includes public budgets, tax systems, regulatory frameworks, and corporate reporting requirements. Climate-related risks should also be integrated into debt contracts and financial frameworks.
  • Third, we must improve information ecosystems. This will not only help policymakers improve planning, better manage risks, and combat illicit financial flows – it will also help markets better evaluate sovereign risks, including the impact of credit ratings.

Across the board, we must also take steps to improve our global financial system to ensure that it reduces inequality while increasing resilience. As things stands now, those member states that have the power of the global financial system appear to be moving in the opposite direction.

The Secretary-General’s Biennial Summit of UN Member States, with the G20, International Financial Institutions and other key stakeholders, as laid out in the Secretary-General's Our Common Agenda (OCA) Report will aim to change this course. It’s not too late.

The Secretary-General is strongly committed to helping galvanize the collective action needed for countries to recover better, and to strive towards a healthier, more peaceful, and more sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

Thank you.