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Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on

Sustainable Development Financing

United Nations

United Nations

Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on

Sustainable Development Financing


United Nations

New York, 2014

United Nations publication

Copyright © United Nations, 2014

All rights reserved


In June 2013, the General Assembly set up the Intergovernmental Committee of

Experts on Sustainable Development Financing.1 The decision followed an ambi- tious mandate contained in the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). At the Conference, world leaders called for an intergovernmental process that would culminate in a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy.

To this end, the Committee was tasked “to asses financing needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing instruments and frameworks and evaluate additional initiatives”.2 Regional groups of United Nations member states nominated thirty experts to serve on the Committee, representing a wide range of expertise and geographi- cal diversity (see Annex). The Committee held its inaugural session in August 2013, when it adopted its programme of work and elected its two co-chairs, Ambassador Pertti Majanen from Finland and Mr. Mansur Muhtar from Nigeria.

At the outset, in accordance with its mandate the Committee agreed to address the broad question of financing sustainable development rather than con- duct sector- or goal-specific analysis. It decided to structure its work along three clusters: Cluster 1 on “Assessing financing needs, mapping of current flows and emerging trends, and the impact of domestic and international environments”;

Cluster 2 on “Mobilisation of resources and their effective use”; and Cluster 3 on “Institutional arrangements, policy coherence, synergies and governance.” The Committee further agreed to base this work on four pillars: the univer- sal values of the Millennium Declaration; the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Rio+20 outcome document; the Monter- rey Consensus on Financing for Development, with its emphasis on the use of all forms of financing, including public, private, domestic and international in a holistic manner; and a multi-stakeholder approach, including civil society, the business sector and other major groups.

Through 2013 and 2014, four additional five day sessions were held at UN Headquarters. Discussions continued during numerous informal inter-sessional meetings, video-conferences and online fora. The report greatly benefitted from the views of other Member States and external stakeholders, and outreach was integral to the Committee’s work. While regular sessions were closed in accordance with its mandate, the Committee consulted extensively. During its five open multi-stakeholder meetings, it listened carefully to the views of civil society and the business sector, who reminded experts to be both bold and practical in their proposals. The work of the Committee also drew on the large number of substantive inputs from the wider UN System.

1 General Assembly Decision 67/559.

2 A/CONF.216/16, chapter I, resolution 1.

iv Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing Regional consultations helped the Committee to take into account countryspecific and regional perspectives, highlighting the need to be non-prescriptive. In this context, the United Nations Regional Economic Commissions and regional development banks, with the generous support of several Member States, hosted outreach events in Santiago, Chile; Helsinki, Finland; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Mindful of the need to coordinate its work with the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG), the Committee also held a joint meeting with the OWG to report on progress and exchange views. The final report takes into account the OWG’s proposed Sustainable Development Goals and their associated targets, in particular Goal 17 on the means of implementation.

Closing its year-long deliberations, the Committee fulfilled its mandate and adopted its final report at the end of its fifth session on 8 August 2014. It has since been published as a document of the 69th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.3 The report is the product of a year-long debate on sustainable development financing, with each and every member making his or her own unique and indispensable contribution. The debates drew on background papers and other inputs prepared by the United Nations System Task Team Working Group on Financing for Sustainable Development. The UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs and the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management provided substantive and administrative support throughout the process. The report was adopted with a great sense of optimism and trust that it would provide a useful basis for the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations on sustainable development financing in support of the United Nations post-2015 development agenda.

–  –  –

In 2015, the international community will adopt a new development agenda, seeking to end poverty and ensure sustainable development globally and in every nation. This enormous challenge can only be overcome with sufficient financial means. We, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing, have been tasked to propose options for a financing strategy that would facilitate the mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives.4 Our report makes a threefold contribution to meet this mandate: it develops a comprehensive analytical framework; it proposes a basket of over 115 policy options for policy makers to choose from; and it suggests areas for advancement of the global partnership for sustainable development, including in the areas of trade, taxation, financial market stability, debt and development cooperation, among others.

We recommend that all countries implement country-owned sustainable development financing strategies, complemented by enabling national and international policy environments. Such financing strategies should incorporate all sources of financing, including public and private, domestic and international, with each type having a unique role based on its specific characteristics. We find that with the necessary political will, the international community can meet the financing needs for a transformative sustainable development agenda. The challenge is huge, but with a joint effort, it is surmountable.

Financing needs We began our analysis by assessing sustainable financing needs, existing financing flows and their effectiveness, as well as potential sources of financing. Since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration in 2000, many developing countries have experienced significant economic growth, and the availability of all types of finance has increased. Despite these achievements, there are differences between and within countries, and progress has been insufficient to realize all of the MDGs. Risks and vulnerabilities — including environmental degradation and climate change, as well as risks within the international financial system — have become more pronounced.

Against this backdrop, we provide order of magnitude estimates of financing requirements for sustainable development. We acknowledge that identifying financing needs is complex and necessarily imprecise, since estimates depend on a host of assumptions, including the macroeconomic and policy framework, and therefore vary widely. In addition, aggregating needs can be misleading because of synergies across sectors. Nonetheless, all studies show that needs are enormous.

For example, the order of magnitude of additional investment requirements for A/CONF.216/16, chapter I, resolution 1.

4 viii Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing climate-compatible and sustainable development scenarios is estimated to be several trillion dollars per year, with additional financing for infrastructure more broadly estimated at between 5 and 7 trillion dollars annually.

While global savings — at around US$22 trillion a year — would be sufficient to meet these needs, resources are currently not allocated adequately. The challenge for policymakers lies in facilitating greater investment of disperse financing flows into areas of global need, and in improving the quality of present policies, approaches and instruments, addressing inefficient and harmful subsidies, corruption, tax evasion, illicit financial outflows, and inaction particularly in the environmental sector, where its costs often exceed the costs of corrective measures. Achieving this will not easy: it will take a transformative change to the way financing is done, in both public and private spheres.

Strategic approach To achieve this transformation, the Committee developed a strategic approach, derived from a comprehensive flow of funds analysis from sources to uses, including the intermediaries that channel these flows. This framework builds on the Monterrey Consensus but adds new elements to address today’s challenges: it incorporates new challenges, such as combatting climate change, into the substantive framework; it treats the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in an integrated manner; and it sheds light on how to design new policies to incentivize investments by taking into consideration the complementary nature of different sources and by analyzing the underlying mandates and incentives of different intermediaries.

This analysis is elaborated in nine key precepts. First, each country is responsible for its own development, while the international community is responsible for an enabling environment and international support. This is critical because, as a second precept, effective government policies are the lynchpin of the sustainable development financing strategy. All actors, including the private sector, operate within a framework and enabling environment created by public policies. This underscores the importance of effective policymaking, including transparency and good governance.

Third, different types of finance must be used in a holistic way, as complements rather than substitutes. For example, while private finance is profit oriented and particularly well-suited for productive investment, expected returns on investments associated with sustainable development are often not as attractive as other opportunities, especially in the near term. Public financing is thus indispensable in many areas of social need and public goods. Sustainable development financing strategies need to be designed to maximize synergies across financing streams, taking into account the interplay of different financing sources, mechanisms and instruments and their strengths and limits for country-specific solutions.

Fourth, financing instruments must be matched to the most appropriate needs and uses. The quality of finance matters. For example, long-term sustainable development investments should be financed with long term funds, as short-term financing is often inappropriate for long-term projects. Fifth, international public finance remains crucial, particularly for those countries where needs are greatest and the capacity to raise resources is weakest. Its impact needs to be maximized.

ix Co-Chairs’ Summary

–  –  –

The remaining precepts call for mainstreaming sustainable development criteria in financing strategies, including in public budgets and private investment decisions; exploiting synergies across the three dimensions of sustainable development; adopting a multi-stakeholder, people-centered and inclusive approach; and ensuring transparency and accountability of financing at all levels.

Options for an integrated sustainable development financing strategy This strategic approach underpins over 115 concrete policy recommendations.

The Committee found that there is no one simple policy solution. Instead, a basket of policy measures will be necessary. The report is not prescriptive, but provides a menu of options for countries to choose from. We find that, taken together, a package of policies can have a powerful impact by redirecting flows towards financing sustainable development.

These options are organized around the different financing streams of domestic public, domestic private, international public, international private finance, and finally blended finance. In each area, we first looked at the impediments to greater financing, and then identified solutions and recommendations to overcome these impediments, including recommendations to (i) raise new and additional resources, (ii) reallocate existing resources toward sustainable development investments and use them effectively, (iii) build on synergies across the three dimensions of sustainable development; (iv) devise appropriate rules and regulations that balance access to finance with financial market stability, (v) create enabling environments, and (vi) build capacity and platforms that encourage countries to share experiences.

x Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing

–  –  –

• At the same time, an enabling environment is crucial. Strengthening the domestic policy, legal, regulatory and institutional environment is an effective way for governments to encourage private investment.

More generally, regulations and policies need to balance access to credit and financial services with managing risks and promoting financial market stability, as all regulations, even those aimed primarily at encouraging stability, affect incentives of investment decisions.

• The Committee also calls for fostering sustainable development considerations and criteria in domestic investment, suggesting that it may be necessary to go beyond existing, often voluntary, standards.

International public finance • International public finance — including aid, climate finance, and other types of assistance — will remain central in financing sustainable development. Member States of the United Nations should honor their commitments in full and in a timely manner.

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