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Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2021: The yawning gap between development finance needs and political ambition

6. April 2021 - 18:10

By Bodo Ellmers

In the lead-up to the UN’s Financing for Development Forum that takes place virtually from April 12-15, the 2021 edition of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report has been released. The report is published by the so-called Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), which comprises numerous UN entities, but also the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. It is widely considered the most comprehensive source of data and analysis on development finance topics.

This year’s edition was heavily influenced by the COVID-19 crisis. It analyses the impact of the crisis on different sources of finance, as well as the response of different development finance providers on it. The thematic chapter deals with “risk-informed sustainable finance and development”. Exploring risk and resilience in relation to development finance has been considered relevant by some UN Member States, as the COVID-19 crisis has exposed various vulnerabilities to shocks. Civil society stakeholders however argued during the consultative process leading to the report that this was the wrong focal issue at the wrong time, and the IATF should have rather devoted their energy to explore crisis mitigation and recovery strategies, as the COVID-19 crisis is still ongoing.

Findings from the special initiative “Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond” are included in various chapters of the report. The initiative which was co-convened by the UN Secretary-General and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica resulted in a 130-page strong menu of development finance options released in autumn 2020.

The report suggests a number of policy options for the second year of the COVID-crisis, mainly informing the upcoming ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum, but also other fora such as the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings, the G20 process, and governments’ policy-making on national level. This year’s recommendations are grouped in three categories:

Immediate action to avoid a lost decade

The objective for this set is to address the pandemic and its socio-economic fallout, primarily in economically weaker countries, in order to avoid a lost decade of development and a more unequal world. The options are primarily related to liquidity support: An issuance of Special Drawing Rights by the IMF, alongside their voluntary redistribution from richer countries that do not need them to poorer countries who do, an extension of the G20’s and Paris Club’s Debt Service Suspension Service (DSSI), and last but not least a call for richer countries to scale up official development assistance (ODA) as committed.

Additional ODA should be used among others to fully finance the COVAX-facility and thus enable universal and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Added last minute to the final version of the report – the unedited advanced draft is usually made available online for stakeholder consultation – was an early replenishment of IDA 20, the World Bank concessional lending facility for Low Income Countries.

The IATF’s analysis in the chapter on “International Public Finance” finds that ODA accounted for only US$ 155 billion or 0.3% of donor countries’ GNI in 2019, less than half of the committed 0.7%. The funding gap of the ACT-Accelerator, to which COVAX belongs, in February 2021 was still US$ 22.9 billion of 33.2 billion, or more than two thirds. The World Bank had accelerated IDA disbursement in 2020, following its commitment to provide positive net flows to developing countries. Contrary to the IMF and bilateral creditors, the World Bank has so far refused to provide any liquidity support in form of debt relief or debt suspension to borrower countries. The option to allocate Special Drawing Rights has also received wide support from CSOs, as evident by an open letter signed by more than 240 CSOs, and seems to be a done deal now as also the new government of the USA has expressed their support.

Rebuilding better: investing in a sustainable recovery and fixing the system

The second set of recommendations build on the assumption that societies and economies were on an unsustainable development path even before this crisis hit. Recovery strategies must therefore change the trajectory, the direction and purpose of investments, and the overarching financial architecture. To do so, the IATF suggests aligning recovery packages with the SDGs and the UN´s climate targets, refraining from a premature phasing out of fiscal support measures, and implementing progressive tax policies.

Drawing on the expertise of the many specialized UN agencies in the IATF, the report’s thematic chapter on “domestic public resources” analyzes in detail how different the size of fiscal support packages were, as well as the coverage of social protection measures. This is a consequence of the different levels of fiscal space in developed countries on one end, and of the Least Developed Countries on the other.

When it comes to tax systems, the analytical part of the report finds that tax progressivity has declined since the 1980s and cites data on how personal income tax rates for the rich top-earners have been falling over the years. However, in what follows, the IATF report focuses on excise taxes and environmental taxes, which impact taxpayers like consumption taxes and thus tend to be regressive. Devoting sufficient space to discussing how to create truly progressive tax system had been a more logical continuation.

The IATF recognizes the need to massively scale up investments in sustainable infrastructure if the SDGs are to be met. Public finance should be scaled-up by additional grants or concessional loans with ultra-long (50 years) maturities. Debt swaps can reduce debt burdens while at the same time securing funding for the Agenda 2030 and climate action. In order to reduce borrower risks related to development finance, the IATF recommends to make public debt state-contingent, meaning to include clauses in loan contracts which would automatize debt relief when a shock such as a natural disaster or a pandemic hits.

In addition, the report suggests using blended financing instruments which use public resources to subsidize private investments or provide guarantees for them. For aligning private finance to the SDGs, the report lists a range of regulatory and voluntary measures. For example, better and more coherent global standards for the disclosure of sustainability-related information by private firms and investment banks, or the reorientation of capital markets and the redesign of private firms’ incentive structures and corporate governance models towards sustainability. CSOs following financing for development discussions have repeatedly expressed concerns that voluntary standards and incentives are insufficient to make private businesses and investments SDG-compatible.

Future-proofing the system 

The third cluster of policy recommendations are related to future-proofing global economic governance and the international financial architecture. The report remains rather vague here, probably because the negotiation processes are ongoing, and perhaps because the agencies involved in drafting it have not found a clear consensus on all conflicting issues either.

However, areas addressed include tax systems, especially building a system for digital taxation that takes the needs of developing countries into account, and reducing harmful tax competition overall. A shortcoming is however that the report does not fully reflect the 14 elaborated reform proposal of the UN’s FACTI panel, whose final report was released in February 2021 and suggest, among others, initiating a process for a UN Tax Convention.

Moreover, the IATF stresses that the debt architecture needs a reform that goes beyond the DSSI. Debt relief and effective institutions have been hot topics since the COVID-19 crisis started to impact on debt sustainability and threatened to push many heavily indebted developing countries over the brink. The UN Secretary-General convened an extraordinary high-level event to discuss the matter on 29 March 2021. According to the analytical chapter of the report, debt service costs in developing countries have risen steadily over the past decade. They now absorb 25% of tax revenue in developing countries overall, and even close to 30% in Small Island Developing States.

The question of which countries should receive debt relief, and for what reason, remains one of most contested questions in international policy-making today, which led to some last-minute changes to country-eligibility related language in the final version of the IATF report. The report suggests a move towards greater debt transparency and better standards for responsible lending and borrowing, but remains disappointingly weak when it comes to creating effective institutions for debt crisis resolution. The call for a sovereign debt workout mechanism, for example, is not reflected in the 2021 IATF report, despite the dark clouds on the debt horizon and the obvious short-comings of the existing regime.

The report’s policy recommendations are to some extent a negotiated outcome of the agencies involved in the IATF. Especially on topics like debt crisis solutions there tend to be different views between, for example, the Bretton Woods Institutions on the one side, and certain UN agencies such as UNCTAD on the other.

It remains to be hoped that political constraints both within the IATF and within the membership of the United Nations can be overcome before it is too late for the Agenda 2030 and the billions of people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in his foreword to the report: “Financing for sustainable development is at a crossroads. Either we close the yawning gap between political ambition and development financing, or we will fail to deliver the SDGs by the deadline of 2030.”

The 2021 UN Financing for Development Forum is one of the spaces where the recommendations that the IATF made, as well as the ones that it did not include in its 2021 report, can be put into practice. Unfortunately, the zero draft of the Forum’s outcome document indicates that some UN Member States’ political ambition still has upward potential.

The post Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2021: The yawning gap between development finance needs and political ambition appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

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Video of the virtual workshop “Making the 2030 Agenda accountable: What is the role for civil society?”

29. März 2021 - 21:52

The video of the virtual Campaign Activation Workshop “Making the 2030 Agenda accountable: What is the role for civil society?” is now online. The virtual workshop was co-organized by Global Policy Forum, Global Policy Watch and Social Watch as part of the 2021 SDG Global Festival of Action and it was held on March 25, 2021.

Further information here.

Speakers

Barbara Adams. Global Policy Watch
Barbara Adams was trained as an economist in the UK and served as Executive Director of the Manitoba Council for International Affairs from 1977–1979 in Canada. She served as Associate Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in New York (1981–1988), where she worked with delegates, UN staff and NGOs on issues of economic and social justice, women, peace and human rights. Barbara served as Deputy Coordinator of the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) through the period of the UN global conferences and until 2003. From 2003–2008 she worked as Chief of Strategic Partnerships and Communications for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). She is currently editor of Global Policy Watch and chair of the board of Global Policy Forum. Chee Yoke Ling. Third World Network
Chee Yoke Ling is the Executive Director of Third World Network, an international non-profit policy research and advocacy organization with its secretariat in Malaysia. She was formerly a law lecturer at the University of Malaya and the executive secretary of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth, Malaysia). She works on sustainable development issues, with a focus on social justice and equity issues and the effects of globalization on developing countries. Among her current research and advocacy work are issues related to trade and investment, public health especially access to affordable treatment, ecological agriculture and farmers’ rights. She is on the Board of ETC Group and International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia-Pacific (IWRAW-Asia Pacific). Emilia Reyes. Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia
Emilia Reyes is the Co-Convenor of Women Working Group on Financing for Development and Program Director of Policies and Budgets for Equality and Sustainable Development at Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia. Ranja Sengupta. Third World Network
Ranja Sengupta works as Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the Trade Programme of Third World Network (TWN). She has an M. Phil Degree in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Her work spans agricultural institutions, international trade and investment policymaking, globalisation, poverty and inequality. She currently works on global trade and investment policies including those framed by the WTO and the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and their impact on development priorities in the South; including on, agriculture and the right to food, human development, employment and livelihoods, and access to critical services. She has worked also on specific impacts on women and MSMEs. She has been tracking the Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda/ SDGs negotiations since their beginning, looking especially at means of implementation issues with a specific focus on international trade policy and development goals. Roberto Bissio, Social Watch
Roberto Bissio, from Uruguay, coordinates the secretariat of Social Watch, a network of citizen organizations that monitor how their governments implement their international commitments. He is co-editor of Global Policy Watch and a member of the Civil society Reflection Group on Sustainable Development. He was a member of the civil society advisory group to the UNDP administrator and regularly writes on development issues as a columnist. Wardarina. Asia Pacific Women on Law and Development
Wardarina works at Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and is co-chair of Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM), which is a platform for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Asia Pacific region to engage with different processes at the United Nations (UN).

The post Video of the virtual workshop “Making the 2030 Agenda accountable: What is the role for civil society?” appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

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Campaign Activation Workshop: Making the 2030 Agenda accountable: What is the role for civil society?

18. März 2021 - 15:35

The promise of the SDGs makes governments accountable but who is to be made responsible for global issues like the climate, the pandemic or finances? Join us to discuss this issue in a workshop hosted by Global Policy Forum, Global Policy Watch and Social Watch as part of the 2021 SDG Global Festival of Action. The workshop will be hold on March 25, 2021 from 04:30 to 05:30 PM (CET).

Register here. Further information here.

The Campaign
How can the SDGs be used to hold governments and the private sector accountable for global issues like climate, the pandemic or finances? The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is tasked with overseeing implementation of the 2030 Agenda, but it has proven itself to be insufficient. Civil society around the world organize campaigns on finances, trade, health, gender and the environment, utilizing spaces beyond the HLPF to advance accountability to the SDGs. As the SDGs are intrinsically interrelated, how can the campaigns be mutually supportive and identify reference points beyond the HLPF? What reforms are required in the HLPF to enable genuine global accountability?

The Opportunity
The SDGs were widely acknowledged to be ‘off track’ pre-COVID-19 and they suffered a major setback in 2020, with increased inequalities, growing poverty, overburdening of women with extra care work and more domestic violence and major educational challenges on top of the catastrophic health problems and continuing environmental destruction. The need for major changes and not just a ‘return to normal’ should lead to reinvigorating the 2030 Agenda and strengthening of its accountability mechanisms. Systemic changes require a global systemic approach articulating ongoing civil society campaigns.

The Participants
Participants interested in strengthening accountability to the 2030 Agenda as well as those planning to attend the 2021 HLPF. This includes Civil Society, UN secretariat, and government delegates.

The Contribution
Workshop attendees can explain how their ongoing campaigns and initiatives envisage to hold governments and the private sector accountable and be ready to explore the accountability for externalities and global impacts outside borders.

The Take Aways
This session will encourage participants to think beyond traditional accountability mechanisms (the HLPF & Voluntary National Reviews) and gain tools and information to reimagine and reinvent accountability in their own streams of work. More and better mechanisms are required for global challenges beyond national control, from the pandemic to climate change to finances. The HLPF needs to be reformed to enable approaching these issues and civil society campaigns within and beyond the HLPF can play a key role.

Speakers

Barbara Adams. Global Policy Watch
Barbara Adams was trained as an economist in the UK and served as Executive Director of the Manitoba Council for International Affairs from 1977–1979 in Canada. She served as Associate Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in New York (1981–1988), where she worked with delegates, UN staff and NGOs on issues of economic and social justice, women, peace and human rights. Barbara served as Deputy Coordinator of the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) through the period of the UN global conferences and until 2003. From 2003–2008 she worked as Chief of Strategic Partnerships and Communications for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). She is currently editor of Global Policy Watch and chair of the board of Global Policy Forum. Chee Yoke Ling. Third World Network
Chee Yoke Ling is the Executive Director of Third World Network, an international non-profit policy research and advocacy organization with its secretariat in Malaysia. She was formerly a law lecturer at the University of Malaya and the executive secretary of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth, Malaysia). She works on sustainable development issues, with a focus on social justice and equity issues and the effects of globalization on developing countries. Among her current research and advocacy work are issues related to trade and investment, public health especially access to affordable treatment, ecological agriculture and farmers’ rights. She is on the Board of ETC Group and International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia-Pacific (IWRAW-Asia Pacific). Emilia Reyes. Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia
Emilia Reyes is the Co-Convenor of Women Working Group on Financing for Development and Program Director of Policies and Budgets for Equality and Sustainable Development at Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia. Ranja Sengupta. Third World Network
Ranja Sengupta works as Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the Trade Programme of Third World Network (TWN). She has an M. Phil Degree in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Her work spans agricultural institutions, international trade and investment policymaking, globalisation, poverty and inequality. She currently works on global trade and investment policies including those framed by the WTO and the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and their impact on development priorities in the South; including on, agriculture and the right to food, human development, employment and livelihoods, and access to critical services. She has worked also on specific impacts on women and MSMEs. She has been tracking the Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda/ SDGs negotiations since their beginning, looking especially at means of implementation issues with a specific focus on international trade policy and development goals. Roberto Bissio, Social Watch
Roberto Bissio, from Uruguay, coordinates the secretariat of Social Watch, a network of citizen organizations that monitor how their governments implement their international commitments. He is co-editor of Global Policy Watch and a member of the Civil society Reflection Group on Sustainable Development. He was a member of the civil society advisory group to the UNDP administrator and regularly writes on development issues as a columnist. Wardarina. Asia Pacific Women on Law and Development
Wardarina works at Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and is co-chair of Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM), which is a platform for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Asia Pacific region to engage with different processes at the United Nations (UN).

The post Campaign Activation Workshop: Making the 2030 Agenda accountable: What is the role for civil society? appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

ALERT! Coming On the UN Agenda…

19. Februar 2021 - 14:57

Download pdf version.

The demands and urgency of addressing COVID-19 related issues have been added to the already crowded United Nations agenda, with consideration and intensity shifting up and down on the scale of priorities.

Some that have come to the fore in the first few weeks of 2021 are:

Least Developed Countries

The Africa Regional Review in preparation for the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) will be held 22-26 February 2021. The meeting will take place in a virtual format, co-organized by the host country, Malawi and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Registration is now open to participate in this virtual meeting. The Asia-Pacific Review is tentatively schedule for 18 to 22 April 2021, co-organized by host country Bangladesh and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

These reviews will feed into the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) whose mandate is to agree on elements of the new PoA. These PrepCom meetings will be held 24-28 May 2021 and 26-30 July 2021.

For more details on the critical role of LDC5 and the various preparatory meetings, view GPW UN Monitor #22 “COVID-19 & LDCs: Upcoming opportunities to address structural impediments”.

Committee for Development Policy

From 22-26 February, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will hold its Annual Plenary Session. Among the agenda items include the Voluntary National Reviews, Country monitoring, the upcoming ECOSOC theme, and the Triennial review of the LDC category.

The Triennial review will determine if countries qualify to graduate from the LDC category. At present, Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor-Leste are all eligible for graduation from the LDC category. These meetings will be webcast on UNWebTV. For more details on this, view GPW UN Monitor #22 “COVID-19 & LDCs: Upcoming opportunities to address structural impediments”.

Revitalization of the GA & selection process of S-G

Each year, the General Assembly (GA) carries out an agenda item titled, “Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly”. The 75th Session of the GA Revitalization will consider the selection process for the Secretary-General, in addition to the role and authority of the GA, the President of the GA’s office, and working methods. These meetings will be webcast on UNWebTV. Among the upcoming meetings include:

Thursday, 25 February 2021 at 10 a.m. virtually (thematic debate on GA role and authority, including on public diplomacy and global communications)

Thursday, 11 March 2021 at 10 a.m. virtually (thematic debate on the Office of the PGA)

Thursday, 25 March 2021 at 3 p.m. in-person meeting in the GA Hall (informal dialogue between Permanent Missions and the UN Secretariat and briefing on the Secretary-General’s analysis on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including on operational support, management strategy, policy & compliance, safety & security, use of UN premises, among others)

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 at 10 a.m. virtually (thematic debate on working methods, including on coherence and coordination among the six main committees and the role of the General Committee)

Friday, 23 April 2021 at 10 a.m. virtually (thematic debate on Secretary-General selection process)

Stay tuned for a forthcoming UN Monitor with more details on the issues being addressed in the Revitalization process.

High-level Political Forum (HLPF) Review

Member States are also currently negotiating the ECOSOC/HLPF Review. This process outlines the working methods and follow-up and review mechanisms for the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. It will also identify the themes for the 2022 and 2023 HLPFs under ECOSOC. A Zero Draft of the resolution has been released as Member States negotiate over the next few weeks, with an expected outcome sometime in March 2021. Stay tuned for a forthcoming UN Monitor which will outline the HLPF/ECOSOC Review process in more detail.

The post ALERT! Coming On the UN Agenda… appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

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COVID-19 & LDCs: Upcoming opportunities to address structural impediments

19. Februar 2021 - 1:54

Download UN Monitor #22 (pdf version).

By Elena Marmo and Barbara Adams

The United Nations and Member States begin the 2021 calendar confronted with the need to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and growing global inequalities. Despite the WHO’s efforts to make the COVID-19 vaccine “affordable and accessible for all” through the ACT Accelerator and calls by CSOs and UN leadership and world leaders for a People’s Vaccine (a global public good free from Intellectual Property Rights), the global vaccine distribution/rollout has been dominated by wealthy, developed countries, with little if any vaccines available for small and medium developing countries.

LDCs have been hit particularly hard as a result of COVID-19. The 2020 UNCTAD Report stated: “The GDP per capita of least developed countries (LDCs) is projected to contract by 2.6% in 2020 from already low levels, as these countries are forecast to experience their worst economic performance in 30 years. At least 43 out of the 47 LDCs will likely experience a fall in their average income.”

How will Member States and the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) factor this into their deliberations on the status of LDCs. The 22-26 February meeting of the CDP includes a Triennial Review regarding LDC graduation. The 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), taking place in January 2022, is preceded in 2021 by a full calendar of preparatory and regional review meetings.

Committee for Development Policy

In its annual meeting from 22-26 February, CDP will hold its Triennial Review of the LDC category. Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor-Leste are all eligible for graduation from the LDC category. In May 2020 the CDP issued a statement on COVID-19’s effects on the prospects of graduation, emphasizing:

“Covid-19 threatens to have devastating effects on the least developed countries (LDC). Their public health systems are often underdeveloped and unable to cope with widespread pandemic. Lockdowns and social distancing measures to stop the spread are more difficult to implement and can have particularly debilitating impacts on livelihoods. Moreover, LDC economies have little resilience to shocks such as the collapse of global demand, exacerbating the socio-economic consequences of the crisis.”

Graduation is recommended on the basis of LDC criteria (gross national income per capita, an index of education and health, and an economic and environmental vulnerability index) including data through the year 2019.  As this method will not account for the impact of COVID-19 on the various countries eligible for graduation, the CDP has noted it will consider “additional information in the form of supplementary graduation indicators and country-specific analysis” which “will include information on Covid-19 and its impacts”. The CDP has begun tracking and compiling this information with the latest figures detailing total COVID-19 testing and cases in all LDCs.

Figure 1.1 – 10 February CDP Report on LDC COVID testing & cases

LDC5 Conference Preparations

LDC5 will take place in Doha, Qatar, 23 – 27 January 2022, at the level of Heads of State and Government. According to A/RES/74/232B1, the main objective of this conference is to adopt a new 10–year Programme of Action (PoA). The preparatory process will be based on country-level, regional and global substantive reviews of the existing PoA priorities. These reviews will contribute to the May and July 2021 meetings of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), whose mandate is to agree on elements of the new PoA. Additionally the General Assembly and ECOSOC will hold a joint thematic event in June on the theme: “Accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda in LDCs to leave no one behind in the context of COVID-19”.

Meeting

Dates

Organizational session

8 February 2021

Africa Regional Review

22-26 February 2021

Asia-Pacific Regional Review

(Dates TBC – tentative 18-22 April 2021)

PrepCom 1st session

24-28 May 2021

PrepCom 2nd session

26-30 July 2021

Joint thematic event (GA & ECOSOC)

18 June 2021

LDC5

23-27 January 2022

The President of the UN General Assembly (PGA) has announced that Bangladesh and Canada will co-chair the PrepCom, with a bureau made up of Qatar (LDC5 host), Malawi (African Regional Review host) and regionally representative co-chairs: Ethiopia and Uganda from the African States; Nepal from the Asia-Pacific States; Czech Republic from the Eastern European States; Haiti and Paraguay from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Turkey from the Western European and other States.

PGA President Volkan Bozkir cited a range of structural impediments to economic development, notably foreign debt: “The latest available data suggests that 14 LDCs are at high risk of external debt distress. While the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the International Development Association countries and LDCs, and the IMF’s debt service relief for 28 LDCs for at least 12 months, are welcome initiatives, more needs to be done. This includes dedicated debt relief measures – if LDCs are to rebound from the COVID-19 shock without compromising their development spending and progress.”

The President of the Economic and Social Council reinforced these concerns: “Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, LDCs were mostly off track in achieving the SDGs. The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021 report estimates that LDCs saw their GDP shrink by 1.3 percent in 2020, which gets them even further away from the target of at least 7 percent growth, needed for sustainable development. This was mainly due to the disruption of international trade, a drop in oil prices, FDI, remittances and the collapse in tourism.”

LDC5 Regional Reviews

Two regional review meetings will be held prior to the PrepComs. The Africa Regional Review will take place in a virtual format 22 – 26 February 2021 organized by the host country, Malawi and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The Asia-Pacific Review is tentatively schedule for 18 – 22 April 2021, organized by host country Bangladesh and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Registration for the Africa Regional Review is now open for all stakeholders, including Civil Society at this link.

It is crucial for these regional reviews to fully address pre-existing inequality-related conditions as well as the impact of COVID-19 on resulting and emerging inequalities—issues of debt, trade and the digital divide to name a few. The Africa Regional Review materials cite that for LDCs: “their structural constraints are compounded by new and emerging challenges, including those posed by ongoing conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and their devastating impacts”. These inequalities will deepen without acknowledgement of the structural barriers to LDC development, and a plan to counteract them boldly in the upcoming Programme of Action and other intergovernmental fora.

These review processes will benefit from contributions, analyses and recommendations from a range of actors knowledgeable about and committed to LDC well-being and development. These include Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from LDCs and many active in the development and rights arenas of health, trade, finance, ecological and gender justice and many others.

Extension on LDC Transition for Trade

On 1 October 2020, the LDC Group submitted a request to the WTO TRIPS Council (IP/C/W/668) seeking an extension of the LDC transition period, for as long as a country remains an LDC and an additional period of 12 years as a country graduates from its LDC status to ensure smooth transition.

CSOs have also issued a letter to the WTO calling on WTO Members to grant the LDC Group the requested transition period, based on the many challenges LDCs face. The letter notes: “Extremely limited testing, health services and sanitation, makes curbing COVID-19 in LDCs a massive challenge. Moreover, because of the impact of COVID-19 on commodity markets and LDC economies, resources for development are even more constrained than before.”

The letter also cites the General Assembly precedent for this extension as resolutions 59/209 of 20 December 2004 and 67/221 of 21 December 2012 have called on WTO Members to consider extending to graduated LDC Members the existing special and differential treatment measures and exemptions available to LDCs.

UNCTAD Reporting on LDCs

UNCTAD’s The Least Developed Countries Report 2020: Productive Capacities for the New Decade Report shares perspectives on counter-cyclical and preemptive policy measures for LDCs. It acknowledges the role of digitalization as a tool for development if carefully considered: “Advanced technologies offer ample scope for spillovers and productivity gains, but also risks deepening entrenched inequalities and technological divides”.

The report calls for “adequate financial resources, suitable policy space and more effective international support measures, notably in the area of technology transfer”. Among the policies promoted are investment for infrastructure and employment, science, technology and innovation policy framework; and brave industrial and sectoral policies to promote domestic value added and productive linkages.

In response to the report, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi and host for the upcoming Africa Regional Review commented:

“It emphasizes the importance of comprehensive support for meso-level policies for productive capacity development in the context of addressing structural constraints and building the resilience of these countries. The international community should rally to the report’s call for greater solidarity and stronger international support to avert this crisis and build long-term resilience through fostering productive capacities. In this context, I also call on developed countries to understand that much like addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the acute development challenges LDCs face is a multilateral issue par excellence, and as such, should be a top priority for the international community.”

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Women’s Major Group Position Paper on the HLPF Review

12. Februar 2021 - 17:01

By Elena Marmo

As the global community coalesced to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations in September 2020 under the shadow of COVID-19, Member States in their Declaration A/RES/75/1, made commitments to strengthen the multilateral system and set forth plans to “build back better”. Among the tools to do so, as recognized by UN leadership and Member States, are the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their importance is highlighted by marking 2020 as the start of the Decade of Action, the final 10 years to achieve the SDGs, as well as the widespread recognition that COVID-19 is threatening to reverse development gains over the past decade. Also, in September during the GA, Member States reacknowledged their pledge to achieve gender equality by recommitting to the Beijing Platform for Action.

However, even before the COVID-19 crisis, after five years of SDGs implementation, the world is not on track to achieve the goals nor has any country fully achieved gender equality. The Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 (GSDR 2019) emphasized that much more is needed – and quickly – to bring about the transformative changes that are required. 

It is now within this context that Member States will conduct the HLPF Review Process, negotiating an outcome to inform the next cycle of the HLPF. Along with a diverse group of CSOs through the Women’s Major Group, Global Policy Forum presents a concrete proposal for reimaging the HLPF and broader sustainable development architecture.

The HLPF is not only mandated to provide political leadership and guidance, but also to enhance integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. It has the responsibility to address new and emerging sustainable development challenges—and in doing so, to investigate and remove structural barriers in achieving the SDGs. The WMG assessment on HLPF uncovers major gaps in addressing these structural impediments and offers meaningful processes throughout the follow up and review cycle. 

Within the WMG HLPF Review Position Paper, you can find WMG’s concrete proposals to review and change the monitoring and review of the 2030 Agenda for holistic, interlinked and strong implementation of the SDGs and to transform the systemic issues that are hindering a just and equitable sustainable development.

You can read the position paper here.

The post Women’s Major Group Position Paper on the HLPF Review appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Where the rubber meets the road

1. Februar 2021 - 17:39

How inclusive is UNDS reform?
Views from CSOs
By Barbara Adams and Roberto Bissio
On 31 May 2018 the UN Member States adopted a resolution (A/RES/72/279) to reposition the UN development system (UNDS) and the UN Secretary-General spelled out its significance:
The resolution you adopt today ushers in the most ambitious and comprehensive transformation of the UN development system in decades. It sets the foundations to reposition sustainable development at the heart of the United Nations. And it gives practical meaning to our collective promise to advance the Sustainable Development Goals for everyone, everywhere — with poverty eradication as its first goal, leaving – as we always say – no one behind…In the end, reform is about putting in place the mechanisms to make a real difference in the lives of people.

This consensus decision was the result of five years of expert group meetings, many reports, and multiple informal and formal sessions. It also came two- and one-half years after the adoption at the highest political level of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Unlike previous reform efforts that were limited to administrative and “internal” UNDS functioning, the Member State directive was unequivocal in calling for the repositioning of the UNDS in the direction of sustainable development objectives and it put in place major UNDS restructuring for system-wide, value-added UN operations, especially at the country level.
While civil society organizations (CSOs) are repeatedly recognized as key players in advocating for and achieving UN goals, they are rarely consulted and engaged in UN reform efforts.
Global Policy Watch has conducted an independent survey of CSOs with commitment and experience of working primarily in programme countries on their knowledge and understanding of the reform results.
The results presented in this report* evidence a very high level of commitment to UN values and principles, much dissatisfaction with the actual operations at country level and articulation of areas for improvement.
For a number of CSO respondents, the UN system is appreciated for its inspiration, legitimization and promotion of the values they stand for but is also viewed as a competitor for funds and influence, often displacing the social sector instead of building it. And frequently it is seen as both at the same time.
Despite substantial emphasis on partnerships including with civil society, the survey results illustrate limited and uneven engagement between CSOs and UNCTs. Results indicate that CSOs in programme countries are largely unaware of the existence of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and only a minority are regularly engaged with their country’s UN Resident Coordinator.
The organizations consulted believe the UN is relevant and they find the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development even more relevant. Their work is focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a variety of ways, including establishing new partnerships and participating in the political process of assessment. Yet, those partnerships rarely include the UN. Or, inversely, the UN country teams do not include independent CSOs in the partnerships they form. Similarly, when the official processes to monitor progress on the SDGs do not accommodate them, which seems to be in a majority of the cases, they find or create initiatives to voice their own conclusions and participate in the national, regional and global debates.

Barbara Adams and Roberto Bissio, New York and Montevideo
January 2021

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* An advanced unedited version of the survey report is available here

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Kategorien: english, Ticker