An Action Plan for the SDGs

By Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General, OECD

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Two numbers convey the dramatic truth and enormous challenge behind the Agenda for 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  •  One billion people live on less than USD 2 a day.
  •  1% of the world’s population consumes roughly 30% of its resources.

Think about those numbers. They are absurd. But they can be changed if the world comes together to achieve the SDGs set forth by the United Nations in September 2015.

What does this mean in practice? The starting point is recognising that every country has a solemn responsibility to do its best to meet the goals. We are all developing countries in the eyes of the SDGs. No country, rich or poor, has the luxury of doing nothing. 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

The SDGs are here… Now what?

By Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and former Prime Minister of New Zealand

We face the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in a world faced with multiple and diverse forms of crisis. What do the SDGs mean for countries where families have to flee their homes to escape conflict, where rising sea levels threaten lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and where economies are devastated by the impact of epidemics or terrorism?

Clearly, the effects of such trends are not confined to the countries in which they originate. Instead, they spill over to neighbouring countries and far beyond, with regional and global consequences that are now posing challenges to many countries, north and south.

The interlinked and comprehensive nature of the SDGs challenges us to identify entry points in many different contexts, and to address the critical bottlenecks that must be removed if no one is to be left behind.

Four areas are fundamental to achieving the SDGs.

1)      Strong national ownership and leadership: Theexperience of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed that the most important determinants of progress include strong leadership committed to global goals and proactive and capable governance institutions at the national and local levels to ensure that the global agenda is translated into national strategies, budgets and actions. We need to work together more closely than ever to help strengthen capacities, whatever the country context.

2)      Active coalitions, engaged stakeholders and knowledge exchange: The 2030 Agenda will need to draw on solutions and experiences from across countries, stakeholder groups and sectors. Today’s world offers new and diverse resources and technologies. UNDP values its engagement with the OECD in support of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation that seeks to maximize the impact of development co-operation.

3)      Enabling resources: The 2015 Addis Ababa Action Accord on Financing for Development emphasizes that financing for development requires far more than traditional development assistance. Countries will need to tap all forms of finance — public and private, domestic and international, and environmental and developmental. A critical challenge will be to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable are reached and that Official Development Assistance (ODA) is used in catalytic ways to leverage additional domestic financing. For instance, the UNDP-OECD Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative works to help local officials in the tax administrations of developing countries access cutting-edge tax audit expertise to increase tax revenue.

4)      Robust follow-up and review: The 2030 Agenda challenges every country to assess progress. Sound accountability mechanisms and timely, disaggregated data are among the minimum requirements for designing, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the SDGs. UNDP and OECD are collaborating closely to help support data-driven decision-making by initiating more open, new and usable data through the new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.

The 2030 Agenda was adopted by 193 governments, but governments on their own cannot drive the agenda. Leadership is needed from the multilateral system. UNDP is working within the UN Development Group to implement a common approach to SDG implementation. We title our approach MAPS – which stands for Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support. This will see the UN development system in-country working to:

  • land the agenda at national and local levels (mainstreaming);
  • target resources at removing bottlenecks to sustainable development (acceleration); and
  • make UN thematic expertise available in an effective and coherent way (policy support).

As the UN’s broad-based development organisation, which also is responsible for leading the coordination of all agencies in the UN development system, UNDP is well placed to play its part in supporting governments to drive forward on the SDGs, in promoting citizen engagement and in convening the broad partnerships necessary for SDG success. We also will support review processes at the global level and the all-important SDG reporting at the national level.

We look forward to continuing our close work with the OECD over the lifetime of the 2030 Agenda — to strengthen analysis to help inform sound policymaking, foster global partnerships, help catalyse the necessary data revolution and foster innovative financing solutions to ensure the realisation of the agenda’s aspirations. The objective is for all people, everywhere, to enjoy well-being and to safeguard the natural environment for future generations.

Gender discrimination in social institutions and long-term growth

By Gabriela Ramos, Special Counsellor to the OECD Secretary-General, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20 

Read this post in Spanish

Women’s economic empowerment remains a critical challenge around the globe. Only half of working-age women are in the labour force, earning on average 24% less than men and are less likely to receive a pension (UN Women, 2015). Women are also disproportionately concentrated in informal and precarious employment, and they spend nearly two and a half more times than men in unpaid care and domestic work (OECD 2014). In schools, girls are less likely to choose STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers, choosing other options that are less promising. Continue reading

Opinion: Starting with Africa

By Erastus J. O. Mwencha, Deputy Chairman of the African Union Commission, and Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre

As world leaders prepare to gather in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaders and citizens across Africa already have outlined bold goals for the continent’s economic and human development. Africa’s Agenda 2063 sets out an ambitious vision. It reflects close coordination among the African Union Commission, the UN Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, because Africa’s solutions need to be homegrown. And it prioritizes the continent’s economic and social transformation by catalyzing industrialization and modernization efforts, people-centered development that values gender equality, responsive and democratic governance as well as peace and security.

The tipping point for Agenda 2063’s vision for sustainable prosperity may very well come as Africans focus on two intertwined drivers of economic growth: productive transformation and regional development. Regional development addresses the broader demographic and spatial dimensions of structural transformation. Development strategies that involve local actors and valorize local assets can unlock untapped potential by better valuing the diversity of African regions and by better connecting them, sowing the seeds for a more sustainable and faster structural transformation.

Africa’s unprecedented demographic change is perhaps one of the best explanations for why productive transformation and regional development are increasingly interconnected in advancing long-term development solutions. As Africa’s population increases—an additional 1.2 billion people will call Africa home over the next 35 years—the dependency rate between old and young decreases. This decrease is an opportunity, but it can also turn into a challenge: More than 29 million young people on average will be entering the labor force each year until 2030 in need of jobs.

Creating those jobs requires a plethora of strategies.

Natural resources need to be better exploited and in a more sustainable way. Botswana used its bargaining power as a major world diamond producer to promote forward linkages between diamond extraction by an international corporation and cutting and polishing by local manufacturing companies. Is this a model on which we can build?

Africa needs to be supported to tap in a greater share of global value chains. At present, Africa produces only 2.2% of the world’s production of intermediary goods. While the opportunities offered by greater participation in global value chains are significant, the impact on job creation in formal enterprises has been limited so far.

Space needs to be created for private sector-led activities to spur greater entrepreneurship. The urban informal sector can have annual capital returns of up to 60 or 70 percent, but economic, institutional and social constraints need to be removed to enable entrepreneurs to enhance their competitiveness, expand their businesses and enter the formal sector.

The public sector needs to be strengthened and empowered to play the part of a policy driver. Given strong population growth and the need to maintain financial efficiency, the role of the public sector as an employer may expand but, in itself, is insufficient. African governments employ about 25 million people aged 30-64, about 10 percent of Africa’s population in this age group, but only 14 million people aged 15-29 or about five percent of Africa’s population in this age group.

In reality, no one strategy for job creation is enough. Rather, the 2015 African Economic Outlook argues that designing an appropriate mix of strategies that is tailor-made to each particular African context offers the greatest promise. Innovative development strategies maximize the diverse potential of different regions.

Realising both Agenda 2063 and the SDGs in the African landscape reaffirms a fundamental truth: Development solutions need to be created by Africans for Africans. At the same time, engaging in robust dialogues and constructive peer-to-peer exchanges of experiences with developed and developing economies—including Germany and other member–countries of the OECD Development Centre—may provide Africans with insights and information to make evidence-based choices that push innovation in development policies and practices.

This article first appeared in Deutsche Welle  on September 8, 2015. Read it anew here: http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-starting-with-africa/a-18702267 


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.