Integrating the local and global urban agendas

By David Simon, Director, Mistra Urban Futures, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

In October, world leaders will gather in Quito for the Habitat III summit to launch the New Urban Agenda. This is on top of the start this year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is odd that to date these two vitally important global urban initiatives led by the United Nations have been kept separate. It would be far more logical and extremely valuable, however, to link them by using SDG 11, the urban goal, as a monitoring and evaluation framework for the New Urban Agenda. A specific comparative urban experiment conducted last year could serve as a model for achieving just such a link.

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Revising ODA in the era of SDGs

By Andrea Vignolo, Executive Director of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation, and Karen Van Rompaey, Knowledge Manager of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation.



SDGsDiscussions on the post-2015 development agenda have paved the way to new thinking about development as a multidimensional and global process. They also have built momentum for revising and modernising the concept and concessionality of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

ODA’s eligibility and graduation criteria are still based fundamentally on countries’ economic growth performance. A growing consensus among academic, practitioner and political communities reveal that classifying countries according to their per capita income is inadequate to measure well-being or sustainability. Furthermore, it is not fit for the purpose of “leaving no one behind” in the era of universal sustainable development goals.

Achieving sustainable development is a far more complex enterprise than achieving economic growth. It requires not only the latter, but also specific knowledge, technologies, the right incentives and institutional capacities to change the way we currently live, work, produce, consume, share the fruits of growth and treat the planet. Otherwise, the quest towards economic growth can lead to negative consequences for the environment and future generations.

Middle- and upper-income developing countries have had access to an enhanced domestic resource base in the past decade to set forth their development priorities. They increasingly have assisted other developing countries through South-South and triangular co-operation. As a result of this growth in their aggregate income, some of them, like Antigua and Barbuda, Chile and Uruguay, have been classified recently as “high-income countries.”

Is this just good news?

Despite past growth and progress in their human development indicators, most of these upper-income developing countries still face acute structural gaps and vulnerabilities that constitute persistent development bottlenecks. They need to close gaps in policies, institutions and capacities to ensure policy coherence towards sustainable development. They lag behind when it comes to accessing, for example, technologies and knowledge, both of which are the “game changers” required to transform their current model of growth into sustainable development.

Moreover, the “rise of the South” has halted in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), threatening to jeopardize all progress made to date. Currently, the LAC region is experiencing a slowdown in trade, a decrease in investment in physical infrastructure as well as human capital and innovation, and a reduction in fiscal space. External vulnerability remains very high since most of the economies in the region lack diversification and are vulnerable to climate change.

Hence, ODA can play a strategic role to support these countries in the transition needed to build capacities in key areas/policy issues such as institutions, economic structures, risk management, social cohesion, research and innovation/technology to effectively achieve sustainable development.

Furthermore, by participating in triangular co-operation schemes, these developing countries can expand their contribution to global sustainable development by sharing their experiences, lessons learned and policy innovations.

Humankind stands at a critical juncture, when it is important to count on the contributions and support of all stakeholders to achieve the global sustainable development goals. It is therefore necessary to work towards an integral and non-exclusionary system of development co-operation that will fulfill the commitments made to date.

For an international co-operation system to be truly integral and non-exclusionary, it needs to provide the right incentives and overcome any zero-sum glance at the issues. While focusing on countries with greater challenges and less capacity to mobilise their own resources, ODA should support all developing countries according to their diverse conditions and needs. In this way, they can build their capacities and contribute towards global sustainable development.

Finally, it is thus necessary to review the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s current ODA graduation criteria to include other multidimensional measures of well-being and sustainability beyond GNI and an alternative timeframe, according to the scale of both the challenges and commitments of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Revising ODA in the era of SDGs

By Andrea Vignolo, Executive Director of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation, and Karen Van Rompaey, Knowledge Manager of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation

SDGs
Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have paved the way to new thinking about development as a multidimensional and global process. They also have built momentum for revising and modernising the concept and concessionality of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

ODA’s eligibility and graduation criteria are still based fundamentally on countries’ economic growth performance. A growing consensus among academic, practitioner and political communities 1 reveal that classifying countries according to their per capita income is inadequate to measure well-being or sustainability. Furthermore, it is not fit for the purpose of “leaving no one behind” in the era of universal sustainable development goals.  Continue reading

The European Space Agency and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

By Johann-Dietrich WörnerDirector General, European Space Agency 

What do space and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have in common? What they have in common may be as remote as outer space but several examples illustrate the opposite. Space does matter for the SDGs. Since its creation in 1975, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a wide range of space programmes that provide useful contributions for sustainable development. And this is becoming even clearer now with the 2015 adoption of the SDGs  [1]. Consider just a few examples related to some of the 17 SDGs: Continue reading

The role of South-South co-operation in the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

By Gina Casar, Executive Director, Mexican Agency for International Development Co-operation (AMEXCID)  

The outcome document of the 2009 High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Co-operation in Nairobi remains the most internationally acknowledged document in this matter. It says that South-South co-operation is a “manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South” (article 18), “takes different and evolving forms, including the sharing of knowledge and experience, training, technology transfer, financial and monetary co-operation and in-kind contributions” (Article 12), and “embraces a multi-stakeholder approach” (Article 19).

South-South co-operation can be seen as an expression of the growing capacity and political willingness of developing countries to do their part to attain the 2030 development agenda. This builds on their own resources, which in many cases emanate from knowledge gathered by facing their own domestic experiences, and less on financial support. It is in this context that the widely accepted formulation of “South-South co-operation not being a substitute, but rather a complement to North-South co-operation” must be understood.

Indeed, South-South co-operation is an increasingly important element of international co-operation for development. The 2030 Agenda and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals strive to make co-operation impactful, focused on results, inclusive and, overall, effective.

In that regard, South-South co-operation faces some particular challenges to increase and assess its development impact, while consolidating the institutional and technical capacities of southern countries. These challenges include:

  • systematising and publishing information collected on the national level,
  • increasing predictability and strategic engagement,
  • avoiding proliferation of short-term and isolated activities,
  • establishing specific procedures for monitoring and evaluation and reinforcing results-oriented approaches, and
  • improving the means of coordination and communication.

These challenges need to be tackled to take full advantage of the potential and specific value-added of South-South co-operation. Consider the enormous promise of South-South co-operation.

  • It offers a significant resource channel that is additional to — and different from — Official Development Assistance funds.
  • It builds on “real and proven” development expertise, which is valued by partner countries because of the similarities and relevant know-how among developing countries.
  • It has lower transaction costs, is more demand-driven vis-à-vis traditional North-South co-operation and comes with fewer conditionalities than traditional development co-operation.

The strengths, increasing relevance and potential of South-South Co-operation rightfully have been acknowledged in the context of the 2030 Agenda and financing for development efforts. For example, with SDG 17 focused on revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development, the global community acknowledges the importance of South-South co-operation to fulfill the SDGs. This goal aims at enhancing North-South and South-South co-operation to support national plans to achieve all the targets. Additionally, paragraphs 56 and 57 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda acknowledge South-South co-operation as an important element of international co-operation for development. The action agenda calls on developing countries to strengthen South-South co-operation and further improve its development effectiveness.

Mexico is an important actor in South-South co-opoeration. As a provider, our priority is with our neighbors in Central America, while also focusing on Latin American and the Caribbean region as a whole. This priority does not mean excluding co-operation beyond our own region as we also undertake development projects in the Asia-Pacific area and Africa. We are increasing our development actions in these places through an enhanced strategic approach. Promoting triangular co-operation is a strategic tool to strengthen our capacities beyond our traditional areas of action, and beyond our own individual capabilities.

Through the establishment of the Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (Mexico’s international development co-operation agency) in 2011, Mexico has tools to better and more strategically deliver its development co-operation. Notably, we continue advancing more systematic planning and monitoring frameworks, as well as a system for registering our development co-operation in monetary terms (RENCID). In terms of financing, Mexico has a national trust fund (FONCID) as well as a number of bilateral trust funds (Chile, Germany, Spain, Uruguay), which are lively tools for increased and improved delivery.

In this context, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, is serving as co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC). Within the GPEDC, we are promoting discussions on how to maximise development co-operation impact. We led sessions on this topic at the First High-Level Meeting (HLM1) of the GPEDC in Mexico City in 2014. At HLM2 to be held in Nairobi next November, we will promote a lively, constructive, open and inclusive dialogue for enhancing exchanges on South-South co-operation and triangular co-operation.

In a global community with a great diversity of actors at different development levels, we all share a responsibility to be as effective as possible. Inclusive and flexible partnerships are what we need to achieve the SDGs.

Partnering with philanthropy to optimise a country’s resources: Mexico’s case

By Emilie Romon of the OECD Development Centre’s Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD)

The Government of Mexico is stepping up its engagement with its philanthropic sector. Three factors fuel this decision. First, the share of official development assistance to middle-income countries, such as Mexico, is expected to significantly decrease in coming years. In 2014, the donor community decided to increase support for least-developed and fragile states rather than middle-income countries.

This means Mexico is exploring new ways to optimise all available public and private resources for development. Second, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed in 2015 call for public and private actors to better pool and co-ordinate their resources if they are to achieve the goals. And third, as the co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which promotes multi-stakeholder partnerships with foundations and other non-state actors, Mexico wants to lead by example. Indeed, Mexico’s move towards its domestic philanthropic sector could not be more timely. Continue reading

Building a GPS for the SDGs: The OECD’s data response to the SDGs

By Martine Durand, Chief Statistician, Director, Statistics Directorate, OECD

World leaders have endorsed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These comprise some 169 targets in fields ranging from poverty and hunger to equality and climate action to peace and justice. To know where we are starting from, whether we’re making progress, and what we need to improve, we will need good data for governments to make evidence-based decisions and for citizens to hold them to account. In other words, what we need is a global positioning system, or a GPS, for the SDGs. We need a data-driven GPS to help map out the best route to arrive at the successful implementation of the SDGs.

Data have been recognised as central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The UN Statistical Commission recently endorsed an official set of SDG indicators as the basis for follow-up and review at the global level in the years ahead.

Implementing and monitoring progress towards the SDGs will be very challenging. The new targets are universal – applying to all countries – and they focus on more than development problems. Many of the targets are complex, interlinked and multifaceted, requiring new concepts and measures. The SDGs’ emphasis on leaving no one behind also will require disaggregated data across multiple dimensions, such as gender, age and socio-economic status.

Yet, good reasons exist to be confident. More data are available today than ever, and technological breakthroughs and improved methods now provide more detailed and granular information. New partnerships also are being set up to harness this data revolution.

This progress must continue if we are to meet the data challenges posed by the SDGs. Even in this era of “big data,” no country, including OECD members, has all the data it needs to monitor the SDGs. New sources must be tapped to fill the gaps, and an unprecedented and sustained international effort will be needed to develop the new information required.

The OECD will take part in this effort fully. We are already renowned for our statistics and have been at the forefront of global innovations in statistical methods, systems and dissemination for over half a century. We are a recognised authority on a vast array of economic, social, environmental and development-related statistics. Consider the fact that we have been leading the search for new statistical measures of progress that go beyond GDP by building indicators for well-being and measuring them consistently across OECD countries. On the education front, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), already the world’s most widely used gauge of educational outcomes, is being adapted for use in more countries. And we have pioneered other useful tools and concepts to measure progress in areas as diverse as science and technology, income distribution, health, labour, international investment and regional analysis.

But the SDGs require measuring how actions taken in one country affect other countries’ performance. Through our world input-output tables, we track the trans-boundary impacts of production and consumption in OECD countries on CO2 emissions and critical natural resources for example. Our data on Official Development Assistance provide information on country efforts to meet aid targets, and we are developing new metrics, such as Total Official Support for Sustainable Development (TOSSD), to give a more comprehensive view of resource flows. Similarly, our Revenue Statistics provide unique information on the capacity of developing countries’ tax systems to raise domestic resources.

The OECD has been a key contributor to setting global goals for decades. Our 1996 development co-operation strategy, Shaping the 21st Century, was a step towards formulating the Millennium Development Goals, and we have played a vital role in monitoring them over the past 15 years. Now, building a statistical system capable of monitoring the SDGs will demand even greater investment in capacity and skills across the entire spectrum, from conceiving and collecting data to interpreting and communicating them clearly to making them open and accessible to all.

We will do all we can to build the GPS that will help member and partner countries and the whole international community rise to the even greater measurement challenges presented by the SDGs. Building better data for better policies to improve people’s lives today and tomorrow is one goal we are determined to achieve.


 

This article should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD, the OECD Development Centre or of their member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author.