INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON WORLD AFFAIRS
October 2018: A joint meeting of the General Assembly's Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council has set the themes to be explored by the 2019 and 2020 reports of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development.
Acting in response to General Assembly resolution 72/208 on Financing for Development, it has agreed that the thematic chapters of the reports should deal in 2019 with “National financing frameworks for the Sustainable Development Goals;” and in 2020, with “Financing sustainable development in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.” In doing so, delegations broadly welcomed the proposals and shared perspectives and suggestions for advancing analysis in those areas.
Thematic chapters are new in the reports of the Inter-Agency Task Force. The first of them was in its 2017 report, in response to guidance from the 2016 Economic and Social Council forum on financing for development follow-up. In 2017, the Task Force addressed the theme “Financing investment and social protection”. In 2018, the theme was “Financing investment in selected Sustainable Development Goals: subnational finance, water and sanitation, energy and terrestrial ecosystem”.
Those themes were set in informal consultation with delegations. To ensure a more formal consultation, the General Assembly in resolution72/208 asked the Secretary-General to address a joint meeting of the Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council, informing them of and discussing the issues to be addressed in the thematic chapter of the 2019 and 2020 reports of the Inter-Agency Task Force. He was also asked to summarize those discussions in a report to guide the Inter-Agency Task Force in its work.
The thematic chapters frame the other sections of the Task Force report, which discuss the global economic context and its implications for sustainable financing, and provide an overview of the progress made in each of the action areas in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
HIGHLIGHTS OF APPROACH
The joint meeting of the Assembly's Second Committee and ECOSOC was held on 14 September 2018. It considered a note presented on behalf of the Secretary-General by the Director of the Financing for Sustainable Development Office.
The note pointed out that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda calls for two core elements in dealing with the financing of Agenda 2030: (a) national policies and actions; and (b) an enabling international environment.
National Strategies: Preliminary analysis of the experience so far indicates that national sustainable development strategies often do not have a comprehensive financing component. Translating the framework of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda into coherent national financing strategies remains one of the greatest challenges for many countries. The thematic chapter of the forthcoming 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report will be centered on meeting that challenge.
With a view to operationalizing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the country level. It will: (a) identify the building blocks of national financing frameworks for sustainable development; (b) tell how to develop and integrate those building blocks into effective financing strategies; and (c) map available support measures from the international community and identify any gaps that may exist.
Great National Variability: Country circumstances differ greatly with regard to the availability of concessional financing, the ability to raise public resources domestically and the ability to attract private investment. The particular elements of a sustainable financing strategy of any one country will thus be context-specific and depend on a country’s unique circumstances, such as its economic structure, integration in the global economy, exposure to external shocks and access to different sources of financing. Those factors will strongly influence financing mixes.
Growing Complexity: The financing landscape has become more complex for many countries, with the participation of new actors (such as non-traditional donors or development finance institutions) and the availability of a wider array of instruments (such as blended finance instruments or foreign currency bonds). At the same time, there are such factors as a less dynamic global economy, policy uncertainty, challenges to existing multilateral arrangements and more frequent weather events and disasters.
Lessons Learned: A number of lessons from country experiences to date point to the importance of national ownership of strategies, the need to identify a limited number of clear and sequenced priorities, and the importance of having a political constituency to support action. Most importantly, in the context of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report, strategies should be costed and linked to budgets, incorporate the full range of investment plans and other financing policies and be aligned with the macropolicy framework.
Analysis of Progress: The analysis in the thematic chapter of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report will be linked closely to the analysis of progress made in the action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. National financing strategies have to respond to the international economic context, which will be laid out in the chapter addressing the global economic context; and, in turn, the strategies should serve to inform all financing policies, which will be analysed in depth in the chapters concerning the seven action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
Trade and Technology: When drafting an integrated financing strategy, different means of implementation, in particular those related to trade and technology policies, should be taken into account. The importance of an international enabling environment for those policies will be highlighted in the report.
Implementation and Capacity-Building: The Task Force will draw on existing experiences with national implementation and analytical and capacity-building work by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force. It will put forward a framework for bringing together these and other policies and strategies as well as include general recommendations of good practices that can guide national efforts.
Specific Goals: The means of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals under in-depth review will be highlighted. The Goals to be highlighted in the 2019 version include Goal 4, on quality education; Goal 8, on decent work and economic growth; Goal 10, on reduced inequalities; Goal 13, on climate action; Goal 16, on peace, justice and strong institutions; and Goal 17, on partnerships for the Goals. [Goal 16.4 is to "by 2030 significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime." As adopted by the General Assembly, Goal 16.4 also mentioned "Terrorism," but that has been surreptitiously moved to a new Goal 16.a that puts it in the national rather than international context: "Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime."]
These Goals are very broad in scope and do not lend themselves to be addressed in one narrative chapter. Instead, they will be highlighted throughout the chapters of the report, including, but not limited to, the thematic chapter. Findings will then be summarized in an overview box or boxes on each of the Goals at the beginning of the report. Similarly, gender equality will remain a key cross-cutting issue in the report, and gender-relevant issues will be highlighted in each of the chapters.
DISCUSSIONS AND FEEDBACK
Institutions: Representatives of the major institutional stakeholders of the financing for development process — the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme — expressed their support for the proposed theme and their deep commitment to contributing to the analysis. They underlined the relevance of national policy frameworks and national development strategies in achieving the Goals, and noted that financing and other means of implementation, such as trade and technology, were often insufficiently developed in such strategies. The thematic chapter would help countries to strengthen financing strategies and international support for them.
Interactive Discussion: The following are highlights of the points made by Member States and responses by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force:
THEME FOR 2020
Megatrends Affecting Financing: For the 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, to be released five years after the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Task Force proposed a thematic chapter on financing sustainable development in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. It intends for the chapter to provide a wide-angle lens assessment of how certain global megatrends have impacted the financing landscape since 2015. Prominent among them are new and emerging technologies that are having an impact on all aspects of development financing.
New Technologies: In the chapter, the Task Force will explore how new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain, have affected the action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The Task Force will assess the opportunities that the new technologies create as well as the risks they pose for households and firms and, more broadly, financial system stability.
The chapter will feature the broad range of the impacts of the new technologies, from the effect they have on financial inclusion, where innovative technologies have facilitated access to financial services for hundreds of millions of people, to tax cooperation, the implementation and financing of clean and sustainable infrastructure and industrialization, trade policies and financial regulations.
Institutions: Representatives of the major institutional stakeholders highlighted their ongoing work on new technologies and the unprecedented opportunities and risks they had created across the action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, underlining the relevance of the chosen theme.
Member States: Delegations broadly supported the rationale behind the proposal, but also expressed some reservations. As indicated in the summary below of their key concerns, delegations:
THE WAY FORWARD
The Task Force will post the outline of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report on its website in October 2018 and will hold a public briefing on the status of its work. The advanced unedited version of the report will be posted on the website at the end of February 2019, as requested by Member States.
Taking Stock: In 2019, the international community will take stock of the progress in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the forum on financing for development follow-up, to be held in April, and at the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, to be held at the level of Heads of State and Government in September. Those events will also help to inform the discussions on assessing the progress made on the means of implementing the Goals, be held in July and September at the high-level political forum on sustainable development, also at the level of Heads of State and Government.
Forum on Financing for Development: The 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report will serve as a basis for deliberations at the 2019 forum on financing for development follow-up and will provide an analytical framework for the engagement of investors and countries at the Sustainable Development Goals Investment Fair. It will also provide substantive guidance to the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system as they aim to strengthen support for countries in implementing sustainable financing strategies, a key objective of the Secretary-General’s strategy for financing the 2030 Agenda.
Assembly Dialogue: The Secretary-General will prepare an issue note for the high-level dialogue of the General Assembly in September 2019, drawing on the analytical work of the Inter‑Agency Task Force, capturing the latest trends and identifying areas that require high-level political com
Issues That Were Eclipsed in Shaping Agenda 2030 are eliminated in Key Report
The UN benchmark report on Agenda 2030 has no mention of terrorism, theft of resources from poor countries, drug trafficking, corruption and bribery. Those issues, tagged as important by developing countries during the negotiation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, were nevertheless shrunk into a sub-paragraph of Goal 16; now they have simply been ignored in the report (document E/2017/66, issued on 11 May 2017 and discussed by the just concluded High Level segment of ECOSOC). Whether the missing issues will be addressed in the updated online information promised in the report remains to be seen. As of January 2018, the SDG Indicators Database completely ignores Goal 16 The following is a lightly edited version of the report, with a number of editorial comments.
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
The global poverty rate has been halved since 2000.
Comment: The longer term poverty reduction trend is good but the latest six-monthly DESA report on world economic prospects says income levels are dropping.
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Comment: Surprisingly, there is no mention of reducing waste in food production and processing. Estimates show that a third to a half of all food produced is wasted.
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all
Mothers and Children
Non-communicable diseases and mental health
Other health risks
Health systems and funding
Comment: The UN's focus on ODA is misplaced. That instrument of funding is entirely unnecessary when crowd-funding can provide all necessary funding with no dependency or political skewing.
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Equity issues constitute a major challenge in education according to a recent assessment. In all countries with data, children from the richest 20 per cent of households achieved greater proficiency in reading at the end of their primary and lower secondary education than children from the poorest 20 per cent of households. In most countries with data, urban children scored higher in reading than rural children.
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Comment: The shift to off-grid renewable energy has major implications for every other variable in economic projections. In association with 3D printing, it spells the end of all economies of scale that underpin mass production. Without factory production, the forces that have driven urbanization for the last four centuries will lose force. We are looking at a tidal wave of changes. This means all assumptions related to Goal 8 will have to be redone.
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Comment: Global connectivity and projected universal access to the Worldwide Web will allow crowd-funding to replace all conventional forms of finance. See relevant section here.
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Inequality within and among countries is evident in hard per capita income figures as well as in such factors as relative strength in international decision-making forums and significant differences in the cost of transferring money across national borders.
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
In recent decades, the world has experienced unprecedented urban growth. In 2015, close to 4 billion people — 54 per cent of the world’s population — lived in cities and that number is projected to increase to about 5 billion people by 2030. Rapid urbanization has brought enormous challenges, including growing numbers of slum dwellers, increased air pollution, inadequate basic services and infrastructure, and unplanned urban sprawl, which also make cities more vulnerable to disasters. Better urban planning and management are needed to make the world’s urban spaces more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. As of May 2017, 149 countries were developing national-level urban policies.
The global energy and technology trends gathering force now point to a future of de-urbanization. Most of the projections relating to this Goal will have to be redone. See here for our projection of megatrends
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Achieving Goal 12 requires a strong national framework for sustainable consumption and production that is integrated into national and sectoral plans, sustainable business practices and consumer behaviour, together with adherence to international norms on the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes.
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
The increasingly adverse impacts of climate change (including ocean acidification), overfishing and marine pollution are jeopardizing recent gains in protecting portions of the world’s oceans.
Goal 15. Protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
Progress in preserving and sustainably using the Earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems is uneven. The pace of forest loss has slowed and improvements continue to be made in managing forests sustainably and protecting areas important for biodiversity. However, declining trends in land productivity, biodiversity loss and poaching and trafficking of wildlife remain serious concerns.
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Comment: There is no mention of Goal 16.4:
"by 2030 significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime."
Terrorism was originally included in Goal 16.4 but seems to have been moved to a new Goal 16.a:
"Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime." That too is missing from the report.
These omissions and changes reflect the continuing success of the United Kingdom in deflecting attention from its role in managing the global money laundering system which it built as its Empire dissolved in the decades after World War II. The system consists of some 70 "tax havens," most of them in small islands that were former British colonies and remain strongly linked to London.
The tax haven system supports the drug trafficking industry Britain pioneered as a colonial Power. It also finances the terrorist organizations that protect the growing, processing and distribution of drugs. The system also allows the massive corruption that has allowed all forms of organized crime to thrive in the underground economy and generate trillions of dollars for the British elite.
That money has ensured the cooperation of national elites around the world and bought the silence of international agencies and most economists. See here for more on this.
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
Despite some positive developments, a stronger commitment to partnership and cooperation is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. That effort will require coherent policies, an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors and a reinvigorated Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
Information and communications technology
Data, monitoring and accountability
Watch this 2014 video to understand the fallacy at the heart of what passes for dialogue in ECOSOC's High Level Political Forum. After you've watched, click here to read IISD's highlights of the HLPF in 2018 (and, if you have the stomach for it, the full reporting from which it is drawn). It is all goobledegook. The only use of IISD reporting is to create the impression of coherent action when very little is being done.
The United Nations now is in the same situation as the League of Nations in the period before World War II. It needs radical reform and we have a detailed proposal on what can be done to create a successor organization, UN/Globenet.
12 August 2017: Cooperative organizations have a significant role in supporting sustainable development across the world and in both developing and developed countries, says a new report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly (A/72/159). They serve more than 1 billion members or clients and employ more than 100 million people worldwide, 20 per cent more than the number employed by multinational enterprises. In 2014, the world’s 300 largest cooperatives had a total turnover of more than $2.5 trillion in agriculture, banking and finance, insurance, health care and wholesale and retail trade. They could be a powerful force to promote awareness and action to support the Sustainable Development Goals, finance developmental action and help monitor progress.
There are about 53,000 credit cooperatives and credit unions worldwide serving more than 857 million people, with 45 per cent of their branches in rural areas (as compared to only 26 per cent of commercial bank branches). In many developing countries, financial services in small villages are offered only by cooperatives, and their clientele include 78 million who earn less than $2 a day. In sum, the sector contributes about 7 per cent of global GDP and employment.
The report cites a global census conducted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2014 that found 2.6 million cooperatives employing 12.6 million workers worldwide. They operated approximately 770,000 offices and outlets, including close to 211,000 cooperative banks and credit unions worldwide, with more than 700 million members or clients and total assets in excess of $11 trillion, generating more than $167 million in annual gross revenues.. Globally, they had more than 1 billion individual members.