At a critical moment in what the United Nations has dubbed “a year for global action,” the Third International Conference on Financing for Development kicked off today in the Ethiopian capital with calls to ensure the necessary resources to improve people’s lives while protecting the planet.
“You have recognized that in a world in which both the global population and resource constraints are growing, development finance needs a reboot,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the opening in Addis Ababa of the Conference, also known as FFD3.
The gathering, which brings together high-level government officials, financial institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and civil society representatives, comes at an important juncture, as Member States prepare to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September and reach a universal climate change agreement in December.
“But without resources, commitments will amount to little more than promises on paper,” Mr. Ban noted, adding that the outcome of the conference – to be known as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda – will be the starting point of a new path for financing sustainable development.
The draft outcome document, which is still under negotiation, presents an “ambitious financing framework” that includes concrete policy commitments in at least six crucial areas, beginning with a new social compact for quality investment.
It also includes a package for least developed countries, including a commitment to increase official development assistance, as well as a new Technology Facilitation Mechanism that aims to break new ground to help facilitate the development, transfer and dissemination of relevant technologies for the sustainable development goals.
The draft, Mr. Ban continued, calls for greater international cooperation in tax matters to stem the tide of illicit financial flows; mainstreams gender equality throughout the financing for development agenda; and makes clear that everyone’s actions need to be underpinned by a strong commitment to protect and preserve the planet.
“Let us put aside what divides us and overcome narrow self-interest in favour of working together for the common well-being of humanity,” Mr. Ban appealed to delegates. “Let us build on our shared vision of a sustainable world free from poverty and deliver a transformative outcome here in Addis.”
Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President of the Conference, which is being held at the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, noted that there are those who say that the sustainable development agenda is too ambitious.
“I am not one of them. This is the right agenda for a world in transition. It is the right agenda for a world with the power, for the first time in history, to wipe poverty out entirely. And the right agenda for a moment in history when our future on this planet is no longer certain unless we embark on a serious change of course,” he told the meeting.
“But the soaring ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals will only mean anything if the intentions that we bring to delivering them through the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is every bit as ambitious as the goals themselves,” he added.
“If it is not, we will let down the people we all represent and will ultimately be blamed for years to come for our lack of seriousness. We will also seriously undermine the credibility of our key global institution, the United Nations… This will be a devastating blow at a point when the need for collective action has never been greater. But I don’t believe that we will choose that path.”
General Assembly President Sam Kutesa told delegates that the Conference should result in an ambitious, holistic and comprehensive framework for financing sustainable development.
“We need concrete deliverables, actions, policies and measures which will result into increased mobilization of resources from all sources, and ensure their effective use, to support the implementation of the universal post-2015 development agenda.”
He cited six areas that are crucial: generating increased domestic resources; international public finance; the need for countries to access long-term financing for infrastructure at concessional or affordable rates; finding ways of increasing the private sector’s participation and contribution to the implementation of the new agenda; addressing the enabling domestic and international environment for development; and effective follow-up to track progress.
“Through a renewed global partnership, solidarity and collective action, we can and will mobilize the resources to achieve a prosperous and sustainable future for all.”
In the photo: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) greets Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the opening of the FFD3 conference in Addis Ababa. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe