In preparation for the 2021 Financing for Development Forum at the United Nations (UN), the NGO Committee on FfD, a substantive committee of CoNGO (Conference of NGOs) held a virtual working breakfast briefing and interactive discussion on January 15 with the Concept Note The Recovery We Want: For People and Planet.
Since 2018, the Committee has been holding similar meetings with delegations of UN members State, other NGOs and private foundations, offering a briefing on the FfD Forum and an opportunity for an open and interactive dialogue. The January 15 meeting started a new cycle of activities in 2021 on FfD and other key concerns of the sustainable development agenda.
As many members of our NGO Committee on FfD directly provide services, especially to people living in poverty in poorly integrated and often isolated communities, we are deeply concerned that policies meant to protect the lives, livelihoods, and health of people, are not translating effectively on the ground, as evidenced by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The informal conversation provided by the virtual meeting, therefore was on how to better confront challenges and how to advocate for policies that can hasten the end of growing inequality and the effects of the pandemic in the world.
The NGO Committee on FfD is an interfaith based NGO and was established in 2004 to facilitate NGO advocacy on FfD matters by its membership, composed of NGOs affiliated to the UN (through ECOSOC, DGC, and FfD) and other civil society organizations.
It took its start after the Monterrey Conference in 2002 that brought together leaders, ministers of finance, foreign affairs and trade of developed and developing countries, the heads of International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization, as well as civil society and the private sector.
The result was a Consensus to bring new momentum toward coherent international cooperation for development, which remains a touchstone for international policy discussions and collective actions on financing for development.
While most parts of the Consensus were not implemented as soon as needed, the 2008 Doha declaration on Financing for Development asked to “the Secretary-General of the UN” to strengthen “the issue of innovative sources of development finance, public and private.”
In 2015, the conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia assessed the progress made in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration and made great efforts to identify obstacles and constraints encountered in the achievement of the goals and objectives agreed, as well as actions and initiatives to overcome these constraints.
The Committee on FfD supports the goal to “end poverty and hunger and to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions – promoting inclusive economic growth, protecting the environment, and promoting social inclusion,” as outlined in Monterrey Consensus and in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The Committees advocates on FfD matters from the lens of Leaving No One Behind with special focus on social protection, financial inclusion, and climate finance.
The 2020 Human Development Report asserts, “Our economies and public policy solutions are skewed against human development precisely because of the way we tend to understand ‘value,’ giving Gross Domestic Product growth a central role, discounting the future and any social and environmental harm. This misguided view of value, which considers activities harmful to people and to the environment as creating value, also fails to account for the true value of social services, social protection mechanisms or public goods.”
The concerns of the Breakfasts are, so far, in agreement with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres who said, “COVID recovery and our planet’s repair must be the two sides of the same coin.” The economic system that values exponential linear growth is perpetuating inequalities in the social and economic well-being of people and an extractive mentality, which is depleting Earth’s resources. “For the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis to be durable and resilient, a return to ‘business as usual’ and environmentally destructive investment patterns and activities must be avoided,” as highlighted in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) brief.
The pandemic has just further exacerbated the already existing gaps in social protection, financial inclusion, and climate action. We need meaningfully ensure that “finance is not an end in itself – it is a means to improve people’s lives and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Thus, the virtual working breakfast called for a paradigm shift in global health and climate finance governance processes. We need transformative and decisive actions to enact and implement social protection, digital and financial inclusion measures, and systemic reforms of the international financial architecture. We need to prioritize long-term economic resilience over short-term economic growth to make building forward better and greener a reality.
The report of the InterAgency Task Force on FfD will give as always a starting point for the stocktaking. However, it is up to governments to act putting the world on a green and sustainable recovery, protecting people and the planet and we know how civil and religious communities have always stepped up to help where governments are unable to provide social protection services.
John Paul Pezzi, mccj
VIVAT International NGO
with consultative special status at UN