Finance, Addis and the Sustainable Development Goals

News, 7 July 2015
Ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, some of the world's Least Developed Countries have been sharing their priorities

A satellite phone provided by Télécoms Sans Frontières, with European Commission funding, enables a man from Tanna island to finally talk to loved ones ten days after communications were cut off by Cyclone Pam in March 2015 (Photo: TSF, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

Financing for the new sustainable development agenda will be one of the key questions for many of the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs) attending the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Addis Ababa this month. But when representatives met to discuss the issues at an IIED Independent Expert Group (IEG) co-hosted retreat earlier this year, it was clear that money was not the only priority.

The event, organised jointly with the permanent mission of the Republic of Benin to the United Nations and the United Nations Foundation, focused on Financing for Development and the 'means of implementation', and sought to identify priorities for the LDCs.

Helen Beck, who represents the Solomon Islands at the United Nations in New York, emphasised the need for technology transfer and capacity building support for the LDCs, particularly for Small Island States (SIDs) such as the Solomon Islands, which are both vulnerable to natural disasters and also facing the impacts of climate change.

The Solomons, along with neighbouring Vanuatu and Tuvalu, suffered devastating damage from Cyclone Pam in March this year, which meant they had to request humanitarian aid to deal with the lack of access to food, shelter and clean water.

With the risk of similar disasters increasing as a result of the changing climate, finance alone will not allow them to achieve the ambition set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Jean-Francis Zinsou, ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations for the Republic of Benin and chair of the Global Coordination Bureau of LDCs, told IIED that finance was nevertheless still crucial, with many of the LDCs highly dependent on Official Development Assistance (ODA).

He said LDCs were looking for at least 50 per cent of ODA flows to be devoted to LDCs.

He added that it was essential that this money was well used. LDC governments need to invest in productive sectors, in infrastructure and capacity development. Investing in capacity was also essential to ensure good governance in LDCs.

Zinsou also highlighted the impact of climate change on LDCs – and the need to build resilient economies. Climate-related disasters could be devastating, undermining development progress already made.

Dr A.K. Abdul Momen, ambassador and permanent representative of Bangladesh to the UN, welcomed the retreat which he said had provided valuable opportunities to talk openly with other country representatives and find common areas of interest.

He said he was keen to work with others to protect LDCs from financial shocks and crises in the developed world. He hoped this issue could be addressed at the FfD conference. A more sustainable world would be a win-win situation for everyone.

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