Road Ahead ‘Undoubtedly Complex’, Keynote Speaker Cautions, as Deputy Secretary-General Applauds Strong Foundation Built on 2015 Accords
Effective development cooperation – marked by fresh thinking, better coordination and concrete action – would be critical to making good on the unprecedented opportunities presented by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers said today, as the Development Cooperation Forum opened its fifth biennial high-level meeting.
In the course of several interactive discussions held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, the Forum heard from a range of Government ministers, heads of United Nations agencies and civil society leaders. Among other subjects, they considered the role of various types of development financing and the interlinkages between the 2030 Agenda and other international agreements signed in 2015.
“The road ahead is undoubtedly complex,” said Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as she delivered a keynote address. She emphasized nevertheless that development cooperation providers must recognize the unprecedented chance they now had to shape a more equitable world. Noting that not all current ways of working would prove effective in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and that many mechanisms would need to be reformed or refreshed, she stressed that human rights and gender equality must underpin implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and the recently signed Paris Agreement on climate change. Indeed, climate change solutions offered opportunities to help eradicate poverty, she added.
Also addressing the Forum, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson commended Member States for having built a strong foundation for future development cooperation through the host of international agreements signed in 2015. In particular, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement – as well as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Development Financing – demanded new thinking and concrete actions that would permeate all levels of society.
Spotlighting the Forum’s critical role in reshaping global development cooperation, Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the body provided opportunities for partners to engage against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and volatile global landscape. Among other things, the Forum would bring a distinct development cooperation perspective to such issues as South-South cooperation, blended finance and technology transfer, he said.
Wang Bingnan, China’s Assistant Minister for Commerce, agreed that the recent international agreements would chart the course for the future of development cooperation. While some strides had been made, however, development remained a strenuous task for many countries still plagued by poverty, he said, noting that the 2030 Agenda provided a fresh opportunity to find a new path.
Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the 2030 Agenda marked a new culture of shared responsibility and partnership. Concerning financing, he pointed out that official spending on development was just one contribution among many, adding that private finance must be encouraged. Mobilizing domestic resources would be critical, he said, also emphasizing the necessity of fair consumption and production. Tax evasion and money-laundering must be addressed, and environmental, labour and social standards implemented along the global supply chain.
Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Secretary-General’s report on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2016/65). He said one overarching theme emerging from it was the importance and potential of development cooperation as a lever for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He listed a number of recommendations relating to the fulfilment of development cooperation commitments, including the building of partnerships and the importance of robust national monitoring and review mechanisms.
Throughout the day, the Forum held three interactive sessions, the first on “Supporting national efforts to achieve the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind”. The theme for the second was “Aligning development cooperation to contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda”, and the third was titled “Southern partners advancing mutual learning and envisioning the contribution of South-South Cooperation for sustainable development”. The Forum also held a panel discussion on “Infrastructure for sustainable development for all”.
The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 22 July, to conclude its high-level segment.
Laura Chinchilla Miranda, former President of Costa Rica and a member of the Club de Madrid, was the keynote speaker in the day’s first panel discussion, on “Infrastructure for sustainable development for all”. Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, moderated the discussion, which featured the following panellists: Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister for Environment and Energy, Maldives; John B. Ssekamatte-Ssebuliba, Head, Population and Social Sector Planning, National Planning Authority, Uganda; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender, African Development Bank and former Minister for Welfare and Population Development, South Africa; Laurence Carter, World Bank Lead for Infrastructure Forum, Senior Director, Public Private Partnerships; and Amar Bhattacharya, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institution. The lead discussant was Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Ms. CHINCHILLA said human beings were and would always be vulnerable, depending on other humans and other species, as well as the environment. While lives and societies had become extremely complex amid persisting human vulnerability, advances in communications, transportation and other areas meant that people now lived better and longer than those of past generations. However, infrastructure development should not be considered to be an end, in and of itself, she cautioned. Scientific knowledge and progress gave hope that environmental protection could be more efficient, and science provided the only means to resolve current social and economic challenges. Due to short-sightedness, not every infrastructure project respected or protected the environment. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a step in the right direction, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 9, on infrastructure and innovation, she said.
Emphasizing that leaders must work intensively to make States less corrupt, less bureaucratic and more efficient, she said today’s States had less capacity and fewer resources with which to build sustainable and modern infrastructure on their own. The participation of citizens in the formulation of political solutions made such processes more participatory and strengthened elements of governance. Societies were not owned by any one sector; rather they belonged to everyone, she pointed out. Involving people in decision-making would result in better choices and outcomes, as well as support for the implementation of projects. Costa Rica’s entire population was involved in setting the national carbon neutrality target, which encouraged their active engagement in meeting that goal.
She went on to warn that Sustainable Development Goal 9 could be put at risk by poor planning, although it could also be bolstered by activities taken under the other Goals, such as the one focused on building resilient societies. Financial investment in small-scale farmers, particularly women, could help to achieve significant improvements in communities and environments, as could investment in public transportation. Nevertheless, infrastructure projects continued to be delayed or pursued in an unsustainable manner, she said.
Mr. KHARAS said the funding of infrastructure remained a challenge, particularly the way in which risk was allocated across different elements of finance, which was more of a concern than the total amount of dollars. The development of infrastructure from origination to actual delivery often took longer than a decade, which meant that infrastructure projects undertaken in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals must be started immediately, he stressed.
Mr. IBRAHIM said the need for quality, resilient infrastructure had been made clear through Goal 9. The infrastructure gap between developed and developing countries was obvious, particularly when taking into account the needs of small island developing States, as elaborated in the Samoa Pathway. Investment in new sustainable and resilient infrastructure must be a priority moving forward. Connectivity and transportation challenges made infrastructure development particularly critical in small island developing States because it hinged on creating an enabling environment on both the national and international levels. Private finance remained difficult to procure, as small island developing States were often identified as high-risk investment environments.
Mr. SSEKAMATTE-SSEBULIBA said Uganda’s first national development plan had ended in 2015, and the second would begin in 2016 under the theme “Strengthening Uganda’s competitiveness”. The overarching national development paradigm entailed prioritizing the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, which required a special focus on infrastructure, since the entire country must be accessible in order to ensure that opportunities were maximized, he said. Also of key importance to Uganda was human capital development and investment in transport, energy and information and communications technology. Economic investment in Uganda required a balancing act that paid due consideration to environmental and social factors.
Ms. FRASER-MOLEKETI emphasized that infrastructure was critical to sustainable development, adding that the African Development Bank was focused on three main areas across Africa – energy, agriculture and industrialization. Infrastructure was central to the delivery of each of those strategic goals. However, there must be an awareness of the reality that infrastructure development did not uniformly meet the needs of all people, nor did it benefit all people in a consistent fashion. Project development must be understood by the market as a distinct investment process, particularly given the lack of public resources, she said. Development funding was considered one of the riskiest investments, which made limited finance a major restraint.
Mr. CARTER said there was still quite a lot of work to do to encourage greater private-sector involvement in infrastructure development. Recalling the Global Infrastructure Forum’s first session, he said participants had expressed a clear commitment to making infrastructure development goals and targets operational. Many of them had emphasized the importance of improving data, promoting capacity development, strengthening project preparation, expanding the availability of financing, and the need for greater involvement by regional and domestic financing institutions.
Mr. BHATTACHARYA said there was a vital focus on how to re-ignite global growth, how to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and how to take strong climate action. Sustainable infrastructure would be at the heart of all three of those objectives, he said, adding that structural reform would be important, but took a great deal of time. The next 20 years would be of crucial importance since the investments being made were both large and long-lasting. It was clear that infrastructure would be developed, but the way in which it was constructed mattered a great deal and would make a huge difference in terms of efficiency and enduring impacts.
Mr. GASS said the need for infrastructure development had been clearly articulated by the panellists, particularly the need to ensure access to both services and to the rest of the world. Mobilizing the multilateral world would be a turning point in that regard. Questioning whether sustainable development had redefined the word “sustainability”, he recalled that the term had been used for quite some time, but whether there had been a shift in the understanding of what it meant now was questionable. He asked the panellists to provide specific examples of high-quality infrastructure projects.
Mr. CARTER, responding in the ensuing discussion, said there was more work to be done in standardizing the processes for stakeholder assessments. Public-private partnerships were only one tool and expectations for such partnerships should be moderated, he cautioned.
Mr. IBRAHIM said sustainable infrastructure was of critical importance for small island developing States, and funding for such projects was needed immediately due to the effects of climate change. However, it was difficult to attract financing sources because the projects were generally quite small and not viewed as being profitable.
Mr. BHATTACHARYA agreed that although public-private partnerships were very important, they were not a panacea. He noted that in emerging markets, the risks were very high during the construction phase, a fact that attached high importance to the management of risk throughout the project cycle.
The representative of Croatia said housing would be of great importance in the future given the expected population increases. Billions of people were expected to move to urban areas in the coming decades, which could present an acute problem given the length of time it often took to complete infrastructure projects in the developing world.
The representative of Ghana said women and girls felt the lack of infrastructure particularly acutely. Given Africa’s particular infrastructure needs, how could its countries position themselves so that their development aspirations could be realized?
Ms. FRASER-MOLEKETI agreed that inclusive infrastructure was, in fact, a gender issue that deserved due consideration.
The representative of China emphasized the need for countries to pursue their own independent development projects and to create their own strategies for infrastructure development based on their own particular circumstances.
Also speaking today were representatives of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Cameroon.
Development Cooperation Forum
The Council then opened the fifth biennial High-Level Meeting of its Development Cooperation Forum.
OH JOON (Republic of Korea), President of the Council, said in opening remarks that the Forum’s work was focused on the growing role of development cooperation, including its tremendous potential in implementing the 2030 Agenda. In its current two-year cycle, the body had provided valuable input to that Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development in their early implementation phases, and it would continue to play an instrumental role in their follow-up and review. In an increasingly volatile and complex development cooperation landscape, the Forum provided a unique opportunity to engage and share best practices and lessons learned. Noting that many Member States had participated in the Forum’s three preparatory sessions, he underscored the need to align development cooperation and its institutions with the 2030 Agenda. Among other things, the Forum would take a distinct development cooperation perspective to such issues as South-South cooperation, blended finance and technology transfer.
JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed that the world was witnessing turbulent and uncertain times, with deep inequalities among and within countries and conflicts and terrorism threatening the entire international community. Global economic growth was sluggish and global temperatures were rising. Commending Member States for building a strong foundation for future development cooperation in 2015, he said there was now an obligation to live up to those high ambitions. International development cooperation was based on the recognition that global challenges could not be survived or overcome in isolation. “Collective support for the poorest and most vulnerable is in the interest of all of us,” he said, stressing that the recent historic agreements – including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Agenda, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Change Agreement – demanded new thinking and concrete action that permeated all levels of society.
In addition, that “action plan for people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership” required better coordination and collaboration between countries and region, which he noted was a unique and critical contribution of the Forum. Sources of development finance were more diverse than ever before, he said, spotlighting in particular the role of the private sector. Official development assistance (ODA) also needed to be scaled up and targeted more effectively and should support those whose needs were greatest and who were least capable of mobilizing resources.
Development cooperation should promote coherence among different development agendas and activities, he went on. For example, donor countries had spent record amounts in recent years on humanitarian aid supporting refugees, as the number of people displaced by conflict had risen to the highest level since the Second World War. While there was a vital and unquestioned need for such aid, it should not come at the expense of long-term investment for sustainable development, which had an important role in building stable societies and preventing future conflict.
WANG BINGNAN, Assistant Minister for Commerce of China, said the recent international agreements highlighted today had charted the course for the future of development cooperation. While strides had been made, development remained a strenuous task for many countries still plagued by poverty. Noting that the 2030 Agenda was a forward-looking blueprint in that regard, he stressed that the worth of any plan was in its implementation. All countries should work together, as the Agenda provided a fresh opportunity to find a new path. Increased resources were the guarantee of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, emphasizing that developed countries should deliver on their ODA commitments on schedule. “At the end of the day, one has to rely on oneself” to achieve development outcomes, he said, noting that all States must be respected in their own path to sustainable development.
As the world’s largest developing country, China still faced the daunting challenge of lifting some 55 million people out of poverty, he said. The country was working to implement the 2030 Agenda in an integrated manner by aligning its national programmes and putting in place a domestic coordination mechanism. China would also host the “Group of 20” (G20) Summit in September 2016, where it would focus discussions on the delivery of the 2030 Agenda. For its part, China had provided development assistance across the world for more than 60 years, and it was constantly adopting new methods – such as South-South cooperation – in that regard. Noting stark imbalances between the global South and North, he expressed concern that 800 million people around the world still went hungry. China would continue to put justice before interests and live up to its development commitments to help countries around the world achieve the 2030 Agenda, he said.
THOMAS SILBERHORN, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, stressed that “development is about peace”, and that countries must shoulder their responsibilities to make development sustainable. The 2030 Agenda marked a new culture of shared responsibility and partnership. Calling for improved quality in global development cooperation, he said the Forum had demonstrated how willing the international community was to follow that path together. Germany was contributing in a number of ways, including through its own national sustainable development strategy – which was currently being reviewed and brought in line with the 2030 Agenda – as well as in its support to development partners. In addition, it was working to bring about sustainable development at the international level through policies for climate protection and by pushing for development-friendly rules.
Official spending on development was just one contribution among many, he said, stressing that “ODA will never be enough”. Private finance must be encouraged and new financial instruments for channelling private finance for public good would be needed. Noting that funding generated by taxes would be critical, he said Germany was supporting its partners in domestic resource mobilization. Consumption and production must become fair, tax evasion and money-laundering must be addressed, and environmental, labour and social standards should be implemented along the entire length of the global supply chain. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda was a major opportunity and had to become the daily narrative of the United Nations, he said.
Introduction of Report
WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, then introduced the report of the Secretary-General on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2016/65). One overarching theme had emerged in the report, namely the importance and potential of development cooperation as a lever for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Drawing attention to a number of recommendations, he said development cooperation today included a wide variety of international actions and actors, and should remained tightly focused on developing countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with a view to leaving no one behind. That required a change of mindset for all actors, he said, calling on partners to break down silos and better tailor their actions to national contexts.
Development cooperation would facilitate cross-sector partnerships and provide support for policy coherence, he went on. Noting that it would require an adjustment, he said global institutions should align their strategies, funding and approaches to the 2030 Agenda and that all ODA commitments should be met. ODA to non-emergency situations had fallen in 2014 due in part to the increasing costs of humanitarian aid. While that situation was stabilizing, the potential effects of such a trend should be monitored closely. Noting that ODA could act as a catalyst to mobilize other resources, he said the Forum’s current cycle had focused largely on ODA as a possible leveraging tool in areas such as domestic resource mobilization and public-private partnerships.
Continuing, he said blended finance, in particular, should support national priorities and development impacts. Development cooperation, including through South-South and triangular cooperation, should take a prominent role in unleashing the transformative power of science, technology and innovation. Achieving general country ownership and alignment would require a significant shift in development cooperation frameworks. Development cooperation should promote the use of programme-based approaches, and national plans should be owned by whole societies through institutionalized, participatory processes. Calling for intensified knowledge-sharing and increased accountability of Governments to their people, he underscored the need for robust national-level monitoring and reviews of commitments, supported by global follow-up and review mechanisms.
MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered a keynote address, saying there was a challenging road ahead to realize the 2030 Agenda. Not all current ways of working would prove effective in the Agenda’s implementation, and many mechanisms would need to be reformed or refreshed. In that regard, the high-level panel of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee – which she chaired – had been created to reshape the committee to become more “fit for purpose”. Individually, the successful implementation of either the 2030 Agenda or the Paris Agreement would represent an unprecedented triumph for multilateralism; the international community had embarked on undertaking both simultaneously. While uncontrolled climate change was incompatible with the eradication of poverty, the Sustainable Development Goals were critical to near-term climate action.
Addressing those issues required an integrated approach with the objective of enhancing the resilience of countries to withstand ever-greater threats, she said. Noting that “the road ahead is undoubtedly complex”, she said that many complex global challenges had been successfully addressed before, as in the case of the HIV/AIDS response and in protecting the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol. Today, meeting Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger would be closely related to the Goals on water, gender equality and sustainable consumption and production, among others. Such an integrated approach was also central to climate justice, which was informed by science and recognized the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.
Development cooperation providers must recognize the unprecedented opportunity to shape a more equitable world, she stressed, adding that “we require unprecedented multilateral cooperation”. In addition, human rights and gender equality must underpin the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Underscoring the need to reach those left furthest behind first, she warned that by 2040 more than half a billion people in Africa would still lack access to electricity. Developing climate change solutions held the opportunity to help eradicate poverty, she said in that regard.
The Council then held a brief interactive discussion, moderated by economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
Mr. SUNDARAM noted that Ms. Robinson’s participation offered an opportunity to reconcile the United Nations approaches with those of the OECD, which had sometimes been at odds. Her emphasis on climate justice was critical, he said, underscoring the importance of leaving no one behind. Ms. Robinson had also stressed the need for an integrated approach. Several years ago, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs had issued a report advocating for a “global green new deal”, which had suggested that dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis did not mean putting development on the back burner. Indeed, he said, it was critical to come out of the global economic slowdown with a view to ensuring that development priorities were met. Calling in particular for leapfrogging in the area of environmental technology, he said the world today was seeking a modern version of the Marshall Plan, which had been instrumental in reconstructing Europe after the Second World War.
In the ensuing dialogue, several speakers emphasized the important role of development cooperation in helping all States to achieve sustainable development. They also pointed to particular areas in which the Forum could play an instrumental role.
The representative of Brazil, noting that the Economic and Social Council was working to balance the different concerns of development actors, stressed the need for the Forum to discuss such important issues as trade, technology and finance. However, he warned that its analysis of the role of development cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda must go beyond the issue of financing, and underscored the need for transparent indicators on how private investments were recognizing core sustainable development principles. The modernization of development cooperation must not serve as a pretext for a revision of sensitive issues for developing countries, he said.
The representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said developed countries could establish binding timelines for their development commitments. Noting that South-South cooperation was an important way to achieve solidarity among countries, she cited several Latin American and Caribbean examples of South-South cooperation on issues such as energy, training, education, culture and the environment. She also called on the Forum to address the particular needs of middle-income countries.
The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) spotlighted the issue of fossil fuel subsidies, which he said had regrettably not been covered by the Paris Agreement. Cutting those subsidies would amount to a “double win”, he said, asking Ms. Robinson why there was such slow progress in that important area.
Ms. ROBINSON responded to those questions and comments, agreeing with the speakers on the importance of South-South cooperation. Fossil fuel subsidies needed to be removed, she said, noting for example that small island developing States had recently called for the phase out of coal.
The second panel discussion of the day was titled, “Supporting national efforts to achieve the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind”. Moderated by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Economist and former Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it featured a keynote address by Vandi C. Minah, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations.
Panellists included: Jaime Miranda, Deputy Minister of Development Cooperation of El Salvador; Mark Van de Vreken, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Post of Belgium; Anita Nayar, Director of Regions Refocus; Babatunde Osotimehim, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Jose Antonia Alonso Rodriguez, Professor of Applied Economics at Complutense University and Member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy; and Minh-Thu Pham, Director for Policy of the United Nations Foundation.
Mr. MINAH noted that this year had been dedicated to developing comprehensive national plans as to how the 2030 Agenda would be implemented. Fighting poverty was not new in the history of the United Nations, although unique narratives and approaches would be needed to end poverty and ensure the delivery of needs for both current and future generations. There was renewed excitement and hope around the Sustainable Development Goals, although it would take commitment to translate that optimism into results. While development cooperation had become all the more important, new cooperation activities would be needed to achieve the desired results.
Additional financing would be needed to build national, resilient systems able to withstand domestic and external shocks, he said. Stronger domestic institutions to ensure sustainable financing and blended financing instruments to encourage innovative solutions were also needed. Institutions in the least developed countries must be strengthened and to ensure domestic financing, illicit financial flows must be curbed. An estimated $50 billion was lost annually across Africa due to illicit financial flows, including through commercial activities, drugs and terrorist activities and corruption. The international community should remain committed to the principles guiding development in fragile States.
Mr. MIRANDA highlighted that in his country, all Government leaders, the legislative Assembly and local authorities had worked to help familiarize the population with the Goals. A national council had been formulated with a wide range of parties, which would allow for the monitoring of how the Goals were being implemented. The country’s statistical system would help to determine the starting point for the development Goals, and also gauge how much progress was made. Marginalized populations had been actively involved and some 4,500 consultations took place with leaders across the public sector.
Mr. VAN DE VREKEN said that ODA, which had a comparative advantage in that it was the only tool specifically focused on ending poverty, must be used efficiently. The world needed to rethink the use of ODA, in-line with international trends. Domestic resource mobilization was still insufficient in many developing countries. Studies indicated that to eradicate extreme poverty, all countries other than least developed countries would need to dedicate 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) towards that effort. It would be important to reach out to those farthest behind through a rights-based approach, he said, adding that peaceful societies were a pre-requisite to development.
Ms. NAYAR said that her organization, Regions Refocused, had been designed to change policies in conjunction with progressive policymakers and regional institutions. The principle of solidarity must be recovered in the context of development cooperation. ODA must be used for its original purpose instead of for influencing trade or macroeconomic policies. Governments must be held accountable to their own citizens. The Goals would not be realized if policy formulation was not autonomous and if citizen participation lacked integrity. Development cooperation must support nationally and regionally defined imperatives.
Mr. OSOTIMEHIM emphasized that the Goals were indivisible and had been constructed in a way that made them complementary. A whole-of-society approach was needed. Governments must open up to civil society and the private sector must be able to play a role. The Goals could cost trillions of dollars, which meant that partnerships, particularly with the private sector, would be essential, with the United Nations working to ensure national Governments built such partnerships in the most accountable and transparent way possible. A country’s most valuable resource was its people. The challenge was to make people as productive as possible through education and access to skills training.
Mr. RODRA�GUEZ said that ODA could play an important role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, although it was clear that the requirements of the Agenda went well beyond those resources. There needed to be a shift from ODA to the broader concept of development cooperation. Also needed were clearer rules for allocating international support. Development cooperation must be pursued in line with the multidimensional nature of the 2030 Agenda. The main contribution of development cooperation should not be measured in what it directly financed, but rather the kinds of social and economic changes it inspired.
Ms. PHAM said that as the world focused on the implementation of the Goals, it was important to recall the financing for development promises that had been made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The 2030 Agenda was universal, which should create shifts in thinking about development cooperation. The targets and goals were related to each other, while the climate agenda must also be integrated. Investment should be focused on basic services, data and statistical architecture, infrastructure, institutions and supporting fragile and conflict-affected States. Whole-of-Government approaches were also needed, which would require engaging parliaments, subnational and local governments.
The representative of Honduras spoke in the ensuing discussion, noting that accomplishing the objectives outlined in the 2030 Agenda would require not only political will, but also clear strategies based on political intelligence.
The representative of South Africa questioned how countries could commit to curbing illicit financial flows.
A representative of the European Union stressed the important role of development cooperation as a lever for effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Also speaking were the representatives of Ghana and Haiti.
Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, moderated the third panel discussion, on “Aligning development cooperation to contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda”. The discussion featured the following panellists: Palouki Massina, Secretary General, Government of Togo and member, United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration; Admasu Nebebe, Director, United Nations Agencies and Regional Economic Cooperation Directorate, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ethiopia; Riikka Laatu, Deputy Director General for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Martin Shearman, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, and former High Commissioner to Uganda; and Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive Officer, Action Aid.
Delivering the keynote address was Choi Jong-moon, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs, Republic of Korea.
Mr. CHOI noted that the 2030 Agenda was different from, and more ambitious than, the Sustainable Development Goals, saying it included relevant stakeholders in the implementation process and placed a strong emphasis on economy, environment and society. It was important to promote partnerships, and the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia had a key role to play in that regard. It was also necessary to ensure effective mobilization of resources and the creation of relevant policies and programmes. Due to the diversity of interests, it was challenging to ensure internal coordination and countries must take national ownership, he stressed.
Mr. SRISKANDARAJAH expressed hope that the panellists would talk about their national and international efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. NEBEBE said Ethiopia had adopted a five-year plan that mainstreamed the Goals into the national agenda. Concerning the environment, the Government had identified climate change adaptation-related indicators and created a number of institutions. There was a need to adopt a systematic approach to cooperation, he said, adding that international development actors must focus on resource allocation. To ensure that no one was left behind, it was necessary to ensure long-term support and a programme-based approach, he said.
Mr. MASSINA called attention to Togo’s economic stagnation and debt, saying the amount of ODA it received had decreased. The Government planned to create a national plan with a view to meeting needs arising from the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that, with the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Togo had begun restoring its economy. He emphasized the need to inspire confidence and ensure economic development.
Ms. LAATU said that Finland’s development policy, directly related to 11 Sustainable Development Goals, had four priorities, including the rights of women and girls, job creation, democratic and well-functioning societies, and food security and the sustainable use of natural resources. Expressing support for the efforts of civil society organizations, she said they must adopt a human rights approach in order to win the Government’s support.
Mr. SHEARMAN said it was necessary to win public and political support when delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals. Recalling that the United Kingdom’s Treasury and Department for International Development had announced a new aid strategy outlining a new cross-Government approach in November 2015, he said it sought to address a range of global challenges, including global poverty, threats to peace and security, and climate change.
Mr. CAMPOLINA said the 2030 Agenda had “changed the game”, and Member States must move from rhetoric to action. If the world wished to address inequality, it would be important to redistribute resources, ensure policy coherence, and provide better quality services. However, that would require systematic change. South-South cooperation and stopping tax avoidance were two other effective ways to address inequality.
The representative of Papua New Guinea said his country had created a development cooperation policy that set out national priorities. He emphasized that development partners must respect national processes.
Also speaking were representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Rathin Roy, Director of the National Institute for Public Finance Policy, Ministry of Finance of India, was the keynote speaker in the day’s final panel, titled, “Southern partners advancing mutual learning and envisioning the contribution of South-South cooperation for sustainable development”. Moderated by Maria Eugenia Casar, Executive Director of the Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, it featured presentations by: Abdirahman Yusuf A. Ayante, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Somalia; Joao Almino, Director of the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation; and Jorge Chediek, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.
Mr. ROY said highly unequal access to financing, technology and quality institutions and capacities were three areas that were as restrictive today for countries of the global South as in the past. South-South cooperation had become relevant in that States were required to work politically to overcome those challenges. Concessional financing was still important, but the real challenge was in accessing non-concessional financing in areas, such as infrastructure, that were of interest to developing countries. However, investing in infrastructure required long-term financing, which was often not undertaken due to regulatory risk – or perceptions regarding a country’s political economy.
Discussing renewable energy, for example, he said that when the intellectual property allowing the world to create more efficient solar systems was owned by 5 of the 10 richest countries, and 25 per cent of the revenues reverted to them, Governments were forced to think about such issues as political ones. That was what South-South cooperation was about. Another barrier to access was capacity, which for developing countries meant the ability to take charge of their own affairs. His country had been addressing the issue of capacity by establishing a community within the South to deliver solutions, as seen in the Kofi Annan Centre for Technology. In sum, South-South cooperation was not a technocratic effort, but a political one, as the institutions that mediated access were governed by a political mandate that was 50 years old. If taken politically and as an attempt to address access, South-South cooperation could deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. AYANTE discussed important factors for advancing South-South cooperation in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, describing horizontal cooperation among national institutions, civil societies and private sectors, as well as in the commissioning of more robust research and in offering solutions to the challenges identified. Vertical cooperation among Governments, by creating policy linkages, was also important, as was streamlining policies and actions. There was a need to reorient objectives within the new Goals in ways that responded to local demands, he said, noting that countries in the global South recognized the importance of localizing the Goals in ways that responded to a unique context.
Mr. ALMINO said developing countries should set an example of assertiveness in respecting each country’s policy space in the formulation of national development policies. The conceptual framework of South-South cooperation was set up 50 years ago. Conceptual divisions on what constituted South-South cooperation could prevent countries from understanding its dynamics and vitality. Developing countries had seen other actors’ attempts to quantify South-South cooperation, based on criteria conceived for other realities. South-South partnerships included knowledge exchange, technology transfer, resilience-building and the development of human capital. “Let’s pay attention to quality, structuring elements, sustainability and to outputs and outcomes,” he said. “This is what matters most.”
Mr. CHEDIEK said the new Agenda revived a comprehensive definition of development. For years, the focus had been on the consequences of a lack of development: poverty and exclusion. The discourse, however, had neglected to address economic growth, a critical element. South-South cooperation was important because countries of the global South had shown that sustainable development could be achieved. “We can learn from each other in the South,” he said, noting that stronger regional integration also had allowed countries that had once turned their backs on each other to exchange information, as had been seen in Latin America. Overcoming the political and institutional challenges to South-South cooperation required generating the proper metrics. The institutional set-up for South-South cooperation must be reworked, as the international system – embodied in the international financial institutions and the United Nations – had been established in order to channel North-South cooperation.
The representative of Germany spoke in the ensuing discussion noting that South-South cooperation allowed peers to exchange best practices, particularly in overcoming barriers. He asked what constituted South-South cooperation in the context of the new Goals, whether criteria would be established, and which countries constituted the global South.
The representative of Colombia called South-South cooperation a powerful development instrument, noting that his agency was charged with measuring its qualitative and quantitative terms. The qualitative dimensions included the know-how being shared, the visibility being generated and the quantity of networks that aligned with the new Goals.
The representative Venezuela said the Petro-Caribe agreement facilitated energy resources on an equitable basis, expressing hope that the United Nations Office for South-South cooperation be strengthened. He asked how to reduce costs of financial transactions among countries.
The representative of Thailand, noting that South-South cooperation could be a development multiplier, advocated greater use of research and development centres. Cohesion between New York and the regions should be improved in order to foster better policy planning, with regional commissions disseminating best practices.
The representative of the European Union said his delegation was committed to dedicating 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA within the 2030 Agenda time frame. He was intrigued by Mr. Roy’s comments about political responses that were necessary for political problems. He asked what political response could be offered to such problems.
Mr. ROY, responding to those questions and comments, said the distinction was not about levels of per capita income, but rather, access. South-South cooperation was one of myriad attempts to respond to the political challenge of asymmetric access. The political challenges the South faced were immense. If reform of the multilateral institutions could not be achieved, then a country was politically stuck, which in turn, bred the rise of alternative financial institutions.
The representative of Algeria, sharing his country’s experience in South-South cooperation, described new partnerships to promote commercial and economic interactions. He asked about the best way to learn lessons from others.
Also speaking were representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Trade Union Confederation, as well as a non-governmental organization.
Source: United Nations