Global Policy Watch Blog

U.N. Targets Trillions of Dollars to Implement Sustainable Development Agenda

After more than two years of intense negotiations, the U.N.’s 193 member states have unanimously agreed on a new Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA) with 17 goals — including the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger — to be reached by 2030. The new goals, which will be part of the U.N.’s post-2015 development agenda and to be approved at a summit meeting of world leaders Sep. 25-27, cover a wide range of political and socio-economic issues, including inequality, poverty, hunger, gender equality, industrialisation, sustainable development, full employment, human rights, quality education, climate change and sustainable energy for all. However, the Agenda is far less ambitious when it comes to the means of implementation, warns GPF’s Jens Martens: “The implementation of the SDGs will require fundamental changes in fiscal policy, regulation and global governance. But what we find in the new Agenda is vague and by far not sufficient to trigger the proclaimed transformational change. But goals without sufficient means are meaningless.” Read more…

Fit for Whose Purpose?

By Barbara Adams and Gretchen Luchsinger

A critical issue repeatedly arising in the post-2015 negotiations relates to responsibility. There is shared responsibility, the preference of rich countries who would like to shift traditional official development assistance (ODA) and other “burdens” given the “rise” of some developing countries. There is common but differentiated responsibility, stressed by developing countries to link common commitment with the reality of varying capacities.

Debates also circle, directly or otherwise, around the role of the state, with some camps continuing to promote its central responsibility. Others call for more room for “stakeholders” to be responsible—notably, the private sector.

For a look at how the balance between public and private responsibility has shifted, and what this means in the real world in terms of adherence to international standards and norms, one needs to look no further than the United Nations itself. A new Global Policy Forum Report—Fit for Whose Purpose? Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations—details how private corporations and corporate philanthropic organizations are increasingly paying to play there.Read more…

Invitation: Fit for whose purpose? Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations

The post 2015 development agenda is being shaped at a time of challenge for multilateralism. Multi-stakeholder partnerships and deeper engagement with the business sector are being positioned as central pillars for implementation as well as for mobilizing and leveraging the trillions of dollars needed.
Yet this direction is not taking into account the recent pattern of UN development funding, this pattern has been characterized by increased earmarking of funding from donors, public and private, spurring in turn increased competition amongst the institutions and programmes of the UN system and undermining inter-governmental oversight. A continuation of this pattern will undermine the integration of economic, social and environmental policies and programmes – the essence of the agenda for the next 15 years.
The side event will discuss the challenge of shaping of the Post-2015 Agenda building on findings of a recently completed comprehensive study undertaken by Global Policy Forum on the practices and consequences of private funding of the UN system. Read more…

FFD 3 Outcome: Fishing for crumbs of hope in a sea of lost ambition

By Aldo Caliari, Center of Concern

On July 16th, governments adopted the Outcome of the Third Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), called the “Action Ababa Action Agenda” (AAAA or the “Outcome”). In a collective and sharp statement in response, civil society said that the conference “lost the opportunity to tackle the structural injustices in the current global economic system and ensure that development finance is people-centered and protects the environment.”

The lack of ambition of the adopted text, though not a surprise to observers of the negotiations leading up to it, is very striking for it contradicts hyped-up rhetoric from different sources in the UN and governments about the link between this conference and the upcoming ones this year. Ambitious outcomes in the conferences on the post-2015 development agenda (New York, September) and the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 on Climate (Paris, December) were expected to depend on success of FFD 3. But in its final form, the AAAA does not offer the hoped-for strong financial means of implementation for such other commitments. The reality is that negotiations saw a systematic action by Northern countries to deprive the outcome of any ambition. Read more…

Civil Society Response to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development

We, members of hundreds of civil society organizations and networks from around the world engaged in the Third FfD Conference, would like to express our deepest concerns and reservations on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, based on both our ongoing contributions to the process and the deliberations of the CSO FfD Forum (Addis Ababa, 10-12 July 2015).
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) lost the opportunity to tackle the structural injustices in the current global economic system and ensure that development finance is people-centred and protects the environment. Read more…

A Low Bar for Business

Is business good for SDGs and /or are SDGs good for business? Just out from the Business Sector Steering Committee is the “Financing for Development Business Compendium.” It highlights 33 efforts aimed at mobilizing the private sector capital, claiming these provide “a strong indication of the broad scope of ongoing initiatives and the potential for scaling up to achieve the demands of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Read more…

Financing for Development is ‘Preserving’ the Status Quo

“We started from an optimistic viewpoint on FfD3 and now ending with so much disappointment over what seems like retrogression from old agreements. There is no mention at all of peace dividends generated from the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons, and the reduction in defense spending. Debt relief and condonation are treated marginally. The emerging document suggests business as usual. It doesn’t explain the fundamental reasons for why there is lack of financing sustainable development,” lamented Isagani Serrano, co-convener of Social Watch Philippines.

Frozen in diplomacy

By Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum

The debt crisis in Greece dominates the news in Europe but a significant related event lacks public attention – the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3). This is being held in Ethiopia from 13 to 16 July and is designed to come up with proposals on how to shape international financial relations more equally and to finance efforts to advance sustainable development. FFD3 deals with vital issues such as the mobilization of domestic resources and reform of tax policies, the role of private finance, debt and debt sustainability, trade, and reforms in the international financial system. Read more…

Why is the “North” shying away from global collaboration on tax?

By Wolfgang Obenland, Global Policy Forum

One of the more contested issues at the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, currently underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is how to improve/ensure global cooperation in tax matters. During preparatory negotiations in New York, a proposal surfaced that would upgrade a UN expert committee on the issue into a full-fledged political, and more importantly universal, commission. The commission could deal with issues like fighting tax evasion and avoidance, could set standards for double taxation agreements and for how to deal with transnational corporations. This proposal, however was rejected with force by most OECD governments. Read more…

An Action Plan Without Much Action

By Barbara Adams and Gretchen Luchsinger

With pens still hovering over the Addis Ababa Action Plan, the outcome agreement for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), there is already a sense that for all the recent talk at the UN about ambition and transformation, it is falling short. For a financing document, the Action Plan includes an impressive number of references to issues at the core of sustainable and inclusive development, like social protection, essential services, decent work for all and sustainable industrialization. Read more…