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Once the year 2030 seemed so far away, and achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by then was a high possibility. Not anymore!

Governments met at the United Nations in New York

for the Financing for Development Forum, and the challenge was very clear. Too little progress has been made towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), which to a large extent is the consequence of lacking finance. The 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a UN framework adopted at the same time as the SDGs, which is supposed to ensure money flows toward development and the achievement of the SDGs, is not fulfilling its objective (Bodo Ellmers and Tove Ryding, Eurodad).

The ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) is an intergovernmental process with universal participation mandated to review the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (Addis Agenda) and other financing for development outcomes and the means of implementation of the SDGs. This year, it was held from 15-18th April in New York. Dr. Bokosi represented AFRODAD and he indeed contributed to the process.

The 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR) of the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development warns that mobilizing sufficient financing remains a major challenge in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Despite signs of progress, investments that are critical to achieving the SDGs remain underfunded and parts of the multilateral system are under strain.

The FSDR recommends that the international community should use this opportunity to reshape both national and international financial systems in line with sustainable development. “If we fail to do so, we will fail to deliver the 2030 Agenda”.

Another outstanding issue is the fulfillment of developed countries’ commitments to provide development aid to the world’s poorest. Preliminary figures show that the level of development aid is dropping again, with the poorest countries being hardest hit. Furthermore, donor countries are increasingly reluctant to provide aid as grants, and using scarce aid resources for ‘blending’ which means subsidizing private loans with aid, and thereby imposing more debt on poor countries. Also, public-private partnerships have been promoted to leverage private investments in infrastructure and services in poor countries. However, in addition to creating new inequalities, they’ve often turned out to be expensive time bombs of hidden debt as faulty contract designs tend to put all the financial risks involved on the public side of the partnership.

“There is inherent failure for the private sector to meet social goals. It is important to recognize that private actors by nature are focused on profit maximization for its shareholders. This is often in conflict with social objectives and it fosters many ills like inequality, environmental problems and low wages” Dr. Bokosi  argued.