24 April 2018

Africa: Development Prospects for Hundreds of Millions Remain in Jeopardy


United Nations — The global economy is strengthening. A broad-based economic upturn has underpinned progress in many areas.

But significant weaknesses and medium-term risks in the world economy continue to challenge our efforts. As a result, the development prospects of hundreds of millions of people remain in jeopardy.

We need a comprehensive and systemic response to remain on track.

I see five areas for attention.

First, domestic resource mobilization is fundamental. National leadership, ownership and implementation lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.

Integrated national sustainable development strategies and financing frameworks can provide a long-term vision and platform to support domestic financing.

This is especially important in the context of much-needed infrastructure spending in developing countries.

Additionally, the international community needs to help fight tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows which undermine domestic resource bases.

Second, development cooperation is critical to supporting SDG implementation.

Meeting commitments on Official Development Assistance (ODA) must be a priority.

Although ODA has increased in real terms, it has stagnated for countries where it is most needed.

Third, we need a global enabling environment that is supportive of long-term investment.

Short-termism is a persistent threat to successful poverty eradication efforts.

As we learned from the recent Inter-Agency Task Force report, most corporate executives say they would delay investments in projects with positive returns in order to hit quarterly earnings targets.

This mindset needs to change.

Fourth, the international community must find ways to speedily unlock resources and access to finance for countries with urgent needs, such as those affected by crises or disasters.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season wrought havoc and destruction across the Caribbean and reversed the development course of affected countries.

These disasters underlined the need for a wide range of measures to support countries that face such challenges, including by financing climate change adaptation.

There are some innovative solutions being devised in this area - such as insurance-like mechanisms that can be supported where needed, or loans that reduce repayment during crises.

However, many of these are yet to be implemented or taken to scale. Resources also need to be more effectively targeted to sectors that are integral to achieving the SDGs.

For example, to achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation, we need to triple the amount spent to around $114 billion per year. This implies a major step-change in the scale of investments.

Similarly, on affordable and clean energy, impressive gains are being made as the price of renewables decline, but again, investment needs considerably exceed current spending.

Fifth, and finally, Governments and partners from the private sector must work more effectively to overcome current financing challenges.

We need to think innovatively about how to catalyze the growing interest and potential of private investment for the SDGs.

The United Nations system is committed to supporting Member States in their efforts to finance and implement the 2030 Agenda. In September, the Secretary-General will host a high-level meeting on finance.

The UN will support countries to broker partnerships, pursue innovative finance, leverage resources for sustainable development and build the necessary capacities.

We are working to improve coherence and effectiveness, with a special focus on delivering collective results on the ground. This is in line with the Secretary-General's proposal for the repositioning the UN development system and is linked to his overall reform vision.

Over the next four days, I encourage you to consider the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force, share experiences and ideas, and seek out and forge partnerships that will keep us moving ahead.

I count on your continued commitment and leadership to invest in a better future for all.


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