Research and Information System for Developing Countries & United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation
Renata Lok-Dessallien, United Nations Resident Coordinator in India
(Speech as prepared)
Chairperson, Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Liu Zhenmin,
Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog,
Mr. Jorge Chediek, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on South South Cooperation,
Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, Mr. John McArthur, Dr. Manuel Montes,
I am very pleased to join Professor Sachin Chaturvedi in welcoming you to this timely dialogue on financing the SDGs: a most important conversation about the resources we need to fuel global progress towards Agenda 2030.
We are nearing the end of four years of the adoption of Agenda 2030 with a measured sense of optimism. Around the world, governments, people, businesses, and civil society have broken the mold in innovating for the SDGs. We have seen unprecedented commitment towards completely changing the way we do business.
But when it comes to the brass tacks of operationalizing concrete progress, there are gaps. The financing gap to achieve the SDGs worldwide remains US$ 5-7 trillion annually, of which around US$ 2 trillion is the gap for developing countries.
The SDGs are not just a normative ideal. They will be achieved through progressive legislation to create a level playing field, through climate action and the circular economy, through better schools and universal access to healthcare, through long term economic growth and dignified jobs. All these things require infrastructure, long-term planning and capital investments: they need a surge in financial investments.
For this, domestic public finance aimed at inclusive growth remains our most sustainable and transformative financial instrument.
But if Agenda 2030 requires a transformation in the way we do state policy and social innovation, it also requires changes in the way we do financing. The achievement of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is not supplementary to the SDGs, but a critical element of SDG 17. Enhanced sustainable financing commitments and instruments have to become a way of doing public policy, rather than an ad hoc measure to bridge emerging gaps.
Development financing is key to the achievement of the SDGs, but not only through traditional channels of official development assistance, aid, and other bilateral flows. Like triangular cooperation has opened up new ways of operationalizing cooperation, innovative South-led financing mechanisms must open up new ways of mobilizing resources for the SDGs.
South and South and Triangular cooperation are increasingly becoming one of the most important ways to unlock the SDGs for the developing world and for emerging economies. South-South Cooperation is no longer premised on shared challenges. Today, China and India actually account for 34% of the global economy. The global South could have 57% of the global GDP by 2060.
I reiterate the gratitude and commendations of the international community towards India’s enormous contribution, especially through the US$ 150 million UN-India Development Partnership Fund.
We need more such exemplars from the leaders of the SDG agenda, from countries like India, who have resources, who have examples of innovation that can be scaled up to the region and the world, and who have made global prosperity and sustainability their own personal mission.
The UN India Development Partnership Fund has demonstrated the immediate gains that can be made from political commitment to development financing. It has taken a short two years for the fund to enable projects in 37 different countries contributing to all 17 SDGs.
To me, another important gap between 2019 and 2030 is the private sector. I join you all today in looking to our partners in businesses, in financial markets, and in impact investing – not for a one-way model of funding social projects – but for a holistic partnership of ideas, resources, and intent. Global business engagement must shift to joint public-private initiatives, measurable outcomes, full supply chain frameworks, and innovative finance: guarantees, social impact bonds, and impact investments, that can generate momentum to enhance public finance.
The SDGs must be at the heart of how we do business – not as an act of philanthropy alone, but as a common developmental mission which will have risk adjusted returns and real dividends for business.
The Goals are a useful lens through which our collective investments can be best channeled into impact. To optimize and simplify how this lens can be used by the private sector, we must also invest in better data and evidence generation.
We must also work to find convergence in national policies with the SDGs – India’s example is once again outstanding in this regard.
The institutionalization of the SDGs in India has lessons for the world: the SDG Index, the world’s first subnational tracker of the goals, the national indicator framework, and state adoption of SDG aligned vision documents. In India, the SDGs are part of the national thinking about development, through institutional frameworks focused on marginalization, and some of the world’s largest and most ambitious development programmes: Ayushman Bharat (healthcare), Swachh Bharat (sanitation), and Housing and Electricity for all.
Financing the SDGs in the years going forward, whether it is through South-South Cooperation, a new funding compact, or corporate impact investments, must enhance the ability of growing countries to renegotiate the landscape of international development. It must catalyze new ways of engaging beyond borders. Like the International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank have shown us, development support of the future must be about building growth together.
I look forward to hearing from this illustrious group today on what our next move should be: what have been the biggest gains over the last four years, and what financing we will need over the next 11 years to change the world for present and future generations.