The Addis Ababa Conference on Financing for Development (13-16 July 2015) was the kick off to a critical year for sustainable development, leading up to the adoption of the post-2015 agenda in September and of a new climate change agreement in December. The conference’s outcome document – known as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) and representing the world’s plan to support implementation of the development agenda after 2015 – is not everything we wished for, but it still sets a positive framework for the global change we need towards a fairer and more sustainable future.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States were key in building the Addis Agenda and must remain committed to its leading role in mobilising resources for sustainable development, with a particular focus on least developed countries (LDCs). Last May, the European Parliament (EP) approved a report on Financing for Development which called for responsibility and commitment from all actors, as well as strong means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As author of the EP’s report, I participated in the Addis conference and was pleased to see that many of our progressive recommendations were included in the outcome. However, I have to regret the lack of concrete financial commitments by almost all major donors, which presents a real danger to the crucial goals we need to achieve. Therefore we must continue our political work to ensure that the values of solidarity, equality and justice are carried through the new agenda.
According to the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the results in Addis gave us the foundation for a new global partnership for sustainable development. But this is no more than a first step. The strength of the Addis Agenda lies in its comprehensiveness: the agreed package with over 100 measures draws upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data to support the implementation of all three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental).
The AAAA provides direction and recognises the areas where action is essential to support the development agenda for the next 15 years – domestic public resources; domestic and international private business and finance; international development cooperation; international trade; debt sustainability; systemic issues; science, technology, innovation and capacity building; as well as data, monitoring and follow-up.
Among the main points and new policy deliverables featured in the Addis Agenda are:
- A new social compact to provide social protection and basic public services like health, education, energy, water and sanitation;
- A global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap and find funds to boost energy access, build roads and telecommunications infrastructure in developing countries;
- A package to support the world’s poorest countries as the share of official development assistance (ODA) allocated to LDCs has fallen by 16% in recent years. Developed countries were encouraged to spend 0.2% of gross national income (GNI) on aid to the poorest countries, with the EU promising to do so by 2030;
- The establishment of a technology facilitation mechanism to help facilitate development, transfer and dissemination of technologies to achieve sustainable development;
- Enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically as well as general commitments to collect more taxes, fight tax evasion and tackle illicit financial flows;
- Mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development with governments pledging to undertake legislation and administrative reforms on gender equality and investment in women and girls.
Countries also committed to develop by 2020 a global strategy for youth employment and the document highlights the importance of ecosystem conservation, besides envisaging a dedicated review process and an annual forum under the UN Economic and Social Council to help track progress on development financing.
Despite the good intentions of the outcome document to implement and finance the post-2015 agenda, the AAAA fell short on concrete decisions.
Disappointing facts in the Addis Agenda
Particularly disappointing was the fact that there was no new financial commitments, but only a reaffirmation of existing aid targets (0.7 percent of ODA/GNI and 0.15 to 0.20 percent of ODA/GNI to LDCs) which are not being met by many donor countries; the absence of a real UN intergovernmental tax body which would have given developing countries – that lose billions of euros a year to tax dodging – a seat at the decision-making table on global tax standards; the lack of ambition regarding a new multilateral framework for debt restructuring; and finally, the weakness of the private sector’s commitments to human rights, transparency and business accountability.
Although the Addis Agenda is certainly not, in some respects, as strong and concrete as the EP and many others would have preferred, this is not the end of the road. The measure of Addis’ success will be in its implementation, so now real policy change must follow to bring the ambitious SDGs to life.
The path is made walking and our work is far from over.
Financing global development and the implementation of the post-2015 agenda will keep us all busy between now and 2030.
Texto publicado no Government Gazette