Trillions for the SDGs? Time for a rethink

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By Nancy Lee, Senior Policy Fellow, Centre for Global Development, and moderator during the PF4SD Conference


To learn more about this timely topic explored during
the Private Finance for Sustainable Development Week,
please visit the 
PF4SD and GPEDC websites.


In 2015, the world enthusiastically signed on to the challenge of transforming billions to trillions of dollars of private finance for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The idea was to use public and private development aid to unlock much more commercial private finance for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. Four years later, the hoped-for trillions are nowhere in sight. In fact, we have reached the stage where we need to decide whether to change the goals we set in 2015 or take a hard, critical look at the institutions we rely on to propel mobilisation of private finance for sustainable development.

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Building Trust: How the development community can engage the private sector

By Janet Longmore, Founder & CEO, Digital Opportunity Trust

Giant puzzle pieces

Fundamental to my organisation’s success in delivering local impact against several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been developing an ecosystem of global and local in-country partners. And critical to this ecosystem is private sector participation: Corporate partners bring a different lens on what we do, a welcome push for innovation, creative approaches and efficiencies, and a business-like approach and priority to sustainability. Through mutual trust, we are now co-designing new initiatives that lead to positive impact for development and businesses.

I am a strong advocate for engaging the private sector in effective development. The private sector is often a strong and effective contributor to local development in the countries, cities and towns in which its offices are located and where its employees live, generously supporting local services. The challenge now is to extend local purpose and responsibility from “down the street” to a global perspective within the SDG framework. I advocate for this on the Business Leaders’ Caucus of the Global Partnership (1).

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Multilateral action for sustainable development: How to build on the strength of ODA?

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Co-operation Directorate and Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Chair, Development Assistance Committee

Multilateral wheelIn the backlash against globalisation and multilateralism and despite tightening national budgets, OECD countries’ combined Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains strong. While some criticise recently-released ODA figures for stagnating, steady commitment has been undeniable.

Indeed, ODA has remained politically resilient, steadily increasing since the turn of the century and doubling since 2000. In 2017, net ODA stood at USD 146.6 billion or 0.31% of gross national income (GNI). While this aggregate figure reflects a slight drop of 0.6% compared to 2016, previous figures were artificially high due to the refugee crisis that increased donor spending within their own borders. That spending subsided this year, and when in-country refugee costs are excluded, ODA increased by 1.1% from 2016 in real terms.

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Statebuilding without the State: Getting beyond “chicken and egg” in Somalia

By Dan Honig, Assistant Professor of International Development, Johns Hopkins SAIS, and Sarah Louise Cramer, UN-World Bank Aid Coordination Officer for Somalia

The credibility of the Somali Government hinges largely on its ability to deliver for the Somali People.” International partners clearly recognise the importance of using country systems to achieve broader statebuilding goals, as this line, taken from the May 2017 Communiqué of the London Conference on Somalia, indicates. Yet, international partners continue to deliver aid primarily through parallel systems, as the Government struggles to raise sufficient domestic revenue to deliver tangible results for its people.

DW: Lessons for Peace in Somalia 

Of an estimated USD 1.75 billion in official development assistance (ODA) for Somalia in 2017, only USD 103.9 million was delivered on budget (approximately 6% of total ODA). Excluding humanitarian aid from this calculation, the proportion of on budget aid rises to 14%, which still lags significantly behind the use of country systems in other fragile states. For example, donors delivered between 28-44% of development-focused aid on budget in the Central African Republic, Mali and Liberia in 2015.[1]

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Three things we have learned about investing in African small businesses and in fragile countries

By Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of Investisseurs & Partenaires

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Africa’s small and medium businesses (SMEs) form what is often called the “missing middle” of African economies. The smaller the investment ticket is, the higher the transaction and monitoring costs are, reducing the net profitability for investors. In addition, the poorer and more fragile the country is,  the riskier the investments are. These are well-known facts amongst private equity professionals. Small businesses require small investments but also long gestation periods, as well as sizeable personalised financing and access to specific expertise and knowledge. Fragile countries require in-depth knowledge of the environment in all its dimensions to make wise choices. This is why so few investors are willing and able to finance small African businesses and invest in complex local situations. The choice of supporting these businesses and investing in fragile countries is primarily a choice of impact. It implies several adjustments to ensure the sustainability of the investment fund.

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Reflections on scaling up financing for development

By Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee

Blended Finance Watering CanSpending last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos and today in the Private Finance for Sustainable Development conference, my head is spinning with financing for development issues.

Chairing the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), I often find myself reminding members to uphold their aid levels and to use their public finance resources to stimulate private capital for sustainable development.

It’s a balancing act. Governments risk being accused of shying away from commitments when we talk too much about the “innovative financing tools” and about involving the private sector for development outcomes. It is true that upholding aid levels and directing them to countries most in need will continue to be important to leave no one behind. However, OECD countries must continue to move from talking to taking action when it comes to stimulating private finance.

Why? Faced with an estimated USD 2-3 trillion annual funding gap for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, public or philanthropic capital will be able to meet only half of it; opportunities for the private sector, thus, are significant.

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Closing the gender gap requires closing the data gap

By Sarah Hendriks, Director, Gender Equality, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Read the Development Co-operation Report 2017 to find out more about data for development


DCR ID for blogIn many ways the world now is in better shape than ever. The global poverty rate fell below 10%; we see 9 out of 10 girls and boys entering primary school, and around 85% of all the world’s children are vaccinated against the most common diseases.

While we have come a long way, challenges remain. Perhaps the most pressing one is gender equality, since it affects all other areas of a society’s development. Nowhere in the world are males and females truly equal. Women learn less, earn less, have fewer rights and have less control over their assets and bodies. One stark example is that women are less likely to be financially included: 1.1 billion women around the world still do not have a formal bank account.

Underpinning these gaps, one challenge is particularly acute for women and girls: data.

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