Economic and Social Council
2021 Session, Forum on Financing for Development, 3rd Meeting (AM)
Equitable, Affordable Vaccine Access for All Key to Global Recovery, Outcome Document States, Highlighting Disproportionate Impact on Developing Countries
Ministers and other high-level officials concluded the 2021 Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up today, reaffirming their commitment to strengthen multilateral cooperation and solidarity to combat COVID-19’s frustration of global implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, tenuous even before the unprecedented crisis exacerbated existing ones.
“We are now facing a multidimensional health and socioeconomic crisis that is compounded by climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation,” they stated in a 13-page outcome document of agreed conclusions and recommendations (document E/FFDF/2021/L.1). “Although the virus has impacted everyone, everywhere, developing countries, especially the most vulnerable countries, have been disproportionately affected.”
The Forum’s outcome document — which states that “equitable, affordable access for all” to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics is “at the center of global recovery” — is structured around the Addis Ababa Action Agenda’s seven chapters: domestic public resources; domestic and international private business and finance; international development cooperation; international trade as an engine for development; debt sustainability; addressing systemic issues; and science, technology, innovation and capacity-building; as well as an additional section on data, monitoring and follow-up.
It also includes a discussion of cross-cutting issues in recognition of the devastating global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and concomitant risk of losing years of development progress, such as pre-existing inequalities within and between countries and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls.
By its terms, Ministers resolved to ensure timely access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries and called for increased funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) and its COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. They also stressed the importance of investment in sustainable infrastructure to inclusive post-pandemic recovery and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In terms of domestic public resources, the Forum’s Ministers said that appropriate, exceptional fiscal measures should be maintained for as long as needed to secure health, social and economic recovery. They further called on the United Nations to support countries in building capacity for effective, efficient taxation of the digital economy and on Member States to strengthen international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows.
On international development cooperation, senior officials stressed that official development assistance (ODA) is indispensable for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, urging developed countries to fulfill their commitments in this regard, including achieving the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for such assistance. They also emphasized the importance of scaling up and improving access to climate finance for countries that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Turning to international trade as an engine for development, they committed to ensure that any emergency trade measures designed to tackle the COVID-19 crisis are targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary; will protect the most vulnerable; and will not create permanent barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains.
In the area of follow-up, it was decided that the seventh Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up will be held from 25 to 28 April 2022.
In closing remarks, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that the worst health and economic downturn in recent history has exacerbated vulnerabilities in societies around the world, leading some to describe COVID-19 as “the inequality virus”. While some advanced economies increased their fiscal expenses by 13 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP), many other countries faced strained fiscal spaces, high borrowing costs and limited possibilities for action. “The diverging world we are hurtling towards is a catastrophe for all of us,” she stressed, raising the potential for a lost decade of development.
She underscored the need for structural transformation, first and foremost by supporting countries in their rapid acquisition and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Further, international debt architecture must be reformed through a multi-stakeholder process, while eligibility criteria for debt relief must be based on country need. “Governments should not be forced to service debts at the expense of helping their people,” she insisted.
This call for systemic change was also voiced earlier in the day during two panel discussions on the themes “Walking the talk on illicit financial flows: Actions to achieve tangible progress” and “Building the economy of the future that is climate-resilient and aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency and Co-Chair of the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity, said that the High-Level Panel’s February report makes the case that a systemic approach is needed to reform, redesign and revitalize global architecture to foster financial integrity. Stronger values, policies and institutions — coupled with greater transparency around company ownership and public spending — are needed to support durable recovery from the pandemic, he stressed.
Hiro Mizuno, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments, spoke similarly of the need for structural change by pointing out that the private sector makes financial decisions “according to the rules of the game” as they currently stand. He underscored the need for Governments to support green transformation through policies, regulations and guidance that ensures the “game” in which financial players are engaged is one centred on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The representative of Fiji, speaking additionally for the Netherlands as co facilitators of the draft outcome document, also delivered a statement. Munir Akram (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council, delivered closing remarks.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m., on Friday, 16 April, to hold a special ministerial meeting on the theme “A Vaccine for All”.
The Forum began the day with a panel discussion titled “Walking the talk on illicit financial flows: Actions to achieve tangible progress”. Moderated by John Christensen, co-founder of the Tax Justice Network International Secretariat, it featured presentations by Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency and Co-Chair of the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity; Aksel Jakobsen, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway; Mireya Valverde Okón, General Director for Normative Affairs for the Unit of Financial Intelligence, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of Mexico; Marcus Pleyer, President, Financial Action Task Force; and José Antonio Ocampo, Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. Alvin Mosioma, Executive Director, Tax Justice Network-Africa, was the lead discussant.
Opening the panel, Mr. CHRISTENSEN pointed out that Africa loses $50 billion annually through capital flight. Illicit flows occur because the owners of capital attempt to hide the illegal ways in which they obtained it. Another important aspect to consider is how the massive harm caused to the economies suffering from huge outflows do not translate into huge benefits for the people in destination countries. Rather, funds are invested in extractive activities or wealthy lifestyles. He asked participants to consider how political will can be generated and sustained to combat illicit flows, and how the international community can ensure that the needs of developing countries are considered in these efforts.
Mr. MAYAKI said financial policies must be re-examined to evaluate their effectiveness. Noting that the fight against illicit financial flows has taken centre stage in discussions on financing for sustainable development, he said the High-level Panel’s report, published in February, provides a blueprint for a better financial system that works for all. Among its 14 recommendations, it calls for a global pact for financial integrity for sustainable development, making the case that a systemic approach is needed. It recommends reforming, redesigning and revitalizing the global architecture so it fosters financial integrity. To support durable recovery from the pandemic, stronger values, policies and institutions are needed, along with greater transparency around company ownership and public spending, and improved data exchange to tackle the enablers of abusive practices.
In addition, it is time to question the role and existence of tax havens, he insisted. The report proposes an overhaul of tax norms and institutions, calls for a global median corporate tax and the taxing of media giants, and recommends that these norms be decided in an inclusive setting so that all countries have their voices heard. Further, a United Nations tax convention should be drafted to address the shortcomings of tax systems, while the various parts of the international system should enhance their cooperation. “We were very careful to not reinvent the wheel,” he assured, or create duplicative institutions. However, the reality is that many institutions are not living up to their potential due to their numerous vulnerabilities. Stressing that “now is not the time for a lowest common denominator approach”, he instead pressed Governments to be ambitious and to unlock larger resources to address the problems at hand. Domestic structures, laws and enforcement mechanisms can be reformed, and transparency can be increased at both national and regional levels. But, the integrity challenge must be tackled at the global level. “It will take longer, it will be more difficult, but it is also a necessity,” he said.
Mr. JAKOBSEN said he was encouraged by the recognition that illicit financial flows pose a major threat to development. Siphoning off resources through illicit means also deepens inequalities and undermines democracies, as people lose confidence in their leaders and institutions. As long as a shadow financial system exists, entire societies will be affected. So long as secrecy and misuse of power persist, markets will fail and democracies falter. During its presidency of the Economic and Social Council, Norway launched the High-Level Panel, whose report offers ideas for how the international community could operate more effectively. “We need strong international cooperation to tackle illicit financial flows,” he said, building on existing mechanisms and frameworks, including those put in place by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Continued attention to preventing corruption will produce results, he added.
Ms. OKÓN said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development identifies the reduction of illicit financial flows as crucial for building peaceful societies. Recalling Sustainable Development Goal 16.4 — which calls for a significant reduction in illicit financial and arms flows, along with strengthened efforts to recover and return stolen assets — she said the report lays out a clear vision for a global framework on corruption, tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows. “Financial flows are a systemic problem, and as such, require a systemic solution,” she said, calling for international money laundering standards that encourage countries to make information public and the establishment of an intergovernmental body on money laundering. However, the most effective way to limit illicit flows is to increase financial transparency, detect and deter cross border transactions, strengthen anti-money laundering laws, curtail mis invoicing and improve the transparency of multinational corporations. Combating flows also depends on the quality of national regulations, implementation of them and whether they comply with best practices.
Mr. PLEYER said an ethical compass is needed to fight illicit financial flows, build trust and create fairness. He called for a holistic, systemic approach to the problem. To generate the political will needed, the Financial Action Task Force offers a platform for more than 200 jurisdictions to tackle money laundering, set global standards and assess the effectiveness of actions taken in a country. Its global network is universal and inclusive. “We hold each other to account,” he said, describing the Task Force as a “peer pressure group”, which, in turn, creates political will. He called for “implementation, implementation, implementation” of the Task Force standards, emphasizing that all countries must ensure there is accurate and updated information, as it is crucial to identify the real people behind shell companies, for example. He also advocated for more investment in law enforcement and international cooperation. To help developing countries, he identified the provision of technical assistance for implementing the Task Force standards as particularly important. Expressing hope that the $2 billion laundered annually can be invested in infrastructure and other priority areas, he also said more than $260 billion is generated annually from environmental crimes.
Mr. OCAMPO said institutions must be created to curb all forms of illicit financial flows, noting that the High-Level Panel recommended a better system for attracting and disseminating information. It also supported OECD negotiations for an inclusive tax framework for international profits, including on digital transactions. Taxes should consider the total profits made by these firms, not simply the residual share, he said, also proposing a minimum corporate tax rate — an idea supported by the United States — and calling for better international cooperation to guarantee adequate taxation on capital gains, an area which sees a lot of tax avoidance.
Delegates and other speakers then took part in an interactive dialogue, raising questions, concerns and ideas about how best to stem illicit financial flows. Speaking in person in the General Assembly Hall, as well as virtually through a videoconference feed, all spoke about the urgency for action.
Mr. MOSIOMA, lead discussant, welcomed the general recognition that illicit financial flows pose serious threat to the global economy, particularly low-income countries. Analyses have diagnosed problems, determined who is responsible and clarified what must be done. Solutions must transcend national borders. He pointed out that efforts to reform tax systems under the OECD framework have failed to yield lasting solutions. “This is ultimately a political question that requires a political solution,” he said, noting that, in Africa, the problem has doubled over last decade, with the continent losing almost $90 billion annually. To generate political will, “we need to break the resistance”, which rests within those who are benefiting from criminal behaviour. The call for a global tax body is central to finding solutions. Sustained pressure is also needed.
The representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of the African Group, called for the return of stolen assets, stressing that illicit financial flows undermine the ability of African developing countries in particular to mobilize resources for development. Noting that the continent could gain $89 billion annually by curbing illicit financial flows, she called for collective action to establish financial integrity, as well as political consensus on how to address systemic shortcomings. Without international cooperation, technical assistance and capacity-building for countries with limited resources, success will remain elusive, she said.
The representative of Iran, noting that the right to development serves the best interests of the international community, said Iranians are being subjected to brutal “economic and health terrorism” imposed on them in order to achieve illegitimate political objectives, citing United States sanctions, which violate resolution 2231 (2015). The imposition of sanctions, coupled with Iran’s blacklisting by the Task Force, have led to a complicated situation. Rather than creating biased, non-transparent blacklists, all processes to combat illicit financial flows should be under the umbrella of the United Nations, he said.
The representative of South Africa said $88 billion is lost annually in Africa through illicit financial flows. Recouping those funds would mean the continent could halve the financing gap for the Sustainable Development Goals. The proposed tax convention should indeed be under United Nations auspices, because of the Organization’s convening power and inclusive participation. Underscoring the need to establish a global coordination mechanism under the Economic and Social Council, he went on to advocate for another mechanism to help countries secure the return of stolen assets and resources.
The representative of Indonesia said policy coordination across the board is needed, given the cross-cutting nature of illicit financial flows. For its part, Indonesia has launched a law and various regulations to mitigate money laundering and terrorism financing. “If we all do not row, the boat will not go,” she said, as no country can handle this problem alone.
The speaker for the European Network of Debt and Development pointed out that no country ever says that the global tax rules should be set in a forum where richer countries are more powerful than poorer ones, and where one third of the countries are not even at the table. And yet, “that is the reality that we have”, she said. Indeed, some Governments are not ready to support a fair international tax system. Interests of developing countries not being considered, despite that OECD negotiations were supposedly inclusive. This is only so in theory. Washington, D.C., Paris and Berlin have been given more power than capitals where the consequences of illicit flows are grimly felt, she said, all evidence that the proposed tax rules perpetuate an open bias against the world’s poorest countries.
The representative of Nigeria, noting that illicit financial flows have huge negative consequences on stability, peace and common prosperity, emphasized that the fight against them requires cooperation, particularly in the tracking of stolen assets with a view to repatriating them to their countries of origin. He called on States to implement the High-Level Panel’s recommendations.
The representative of Guatemala, speaking for the Group of Like-Minded Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, advocated for using multidimensional criteria that go beyond per capita income, which would reveal information about financial and non-financial resources. He called for cooperation between middle income countries, which represent one third of global gross domestic product (GDP), and developing countries, particularly in the area of technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, adding that South-South cooperation is a complement to, and not a substitute for, North-South cooperation.
The Forum then held a panel discussion titled “Building the economy of the future that is climate-resilient and aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals”. Moderated by Hiro Mizuno, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments, it featured Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning of Nigeria; Ahmed Kamali, Deputy Minister for Planning, Follow-up and Administrative Reform for Planning Affairs of Egypt; Pekka Morén, Special Representative of the Finance Minister of Finland and the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Actions; Medrilzam Medrilzam, Assistant Deputy Director for Environmental Affairs, Ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia; Natalia Stapran, Director, Department for Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects, Ministry of Economic Development, Russian Federation; and Sabine Mauderer, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Bundesbank and Chair of the “Scaling up Green Finance” workstream of the Network for Greening the Financial System. The lead discussants were Francisco André, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal; and Paola Simonetti, Deputy Director, Economic and Social Policy Department, International Trade Union Confederation.
Mr. MIZUNO, opening the discussion — and while noting the private sector’s interest in contributing to green, sustainable growth — said that the private sector alone cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as actors therein make financial decisions “according to the rules of the game” as they currently stand. He underscored the need for Governments to support green transformation through policies, regulations and guidance aimed at ensuring that the “game” financial players are engaged in is one centred on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. KAMALI, delivering a video message, pointed out that the last decade not only was the hottest on record, but also intersected with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing the world to compounding health and climate risks that especially impact emerging markets and developing economies. Egypt — along with other developing countries — is a hotspot of climate vulnerability despite contributing little to the climate crisis and faces a potential reversal of hard earned development gains as a result. For its part, the Government is taking steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and recover from the pandemic in a resilient manner, such as implementing projects to address sea-level rise, promote food security and efficiently utilize scarce water resources. He added that 15 per cent of national projects for 2021 are green, expressing hope that this amount will double in two years.
Mr. MORÉN said that finance ministers around the world are working to improve their understanding of the risks climate change poses to the economic and financial sectors. He underscored the importance of a deepened understanding of what specific actions are needed to address these issues, which relies on the collection of reliable data at all levels. Noting that such work has only started for many finance ministries, he called for increased cooperation to build expertise and mutual support in order to progress with resilient climate policies.
Mr. MEDRILZAM said that Indonesia has incorporated low-carbon development policies into its national development plan for 2020 2024, which will measure progress not only by GDP growth, but also by environmental sustainability, resource efficiency and social equity. Low-carbon development requires several policy interventions, including: a significant increase in the use of renewable energy; increased agricultural productivity and efficient use of natural resources; and successful, sustainable implementation of reforestation and peatland restoration. He also emphasized the role technology transfer between nations plays in building global economic resilience and sustainable development.
Ms. STAPRAN pointed out that financing for the Sustainable Development Goals was already insufficient before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and that, post pandemic, the annual financing gap for these goals could increase by a further $1.7 billion in developing countries. She urged the international community to assist these countries by developing reliable, effective institutions for the mobilization of domestic resources, while also emphasizing the important role of official development assistance (ODA) and calling on developed countries to uphold their obligations in this regard. She said that Government approaches to the climate agenda and low-carbon development continue to evolve, detailing measures including a national low-carbon development strategy, laws on emissions and a national green finance system. She added that it is necessary to address climate problems and development financing in a manner that allows the international community to simultaneously tackle issues of poverty and technological development.
Ms. AHMED said that the Sustainable Development Goals represent a universal call to end poverty and safeguard the planet, describing a paradigm shift in financing for development that now focuses on the sustainable use and conservation of national resources to achieve these aims. Noting that Sustainable Development Goal 13 requires urgent action to tackle climate change, she said that the building of climate-resilient economies comports with this goal and will allow countries to unlock the full potential of their economies while protecting resources for future generations. Further, the building of such economies is necessary to attain inclusive development consistent with the 2030 Agenda. She called on policymakers to seize this opportunity to promote post-pandemic economic recovery that includes all members of society, including the poor, the vulnerable, women and children.
Ms. MAUDERER said that central banks have identified climate change as a major source of financial risk that impacts wealth, growth, prices and employment in both developed and developing countries. Climate change brings two kinds of risks in this regard: physical risk in the form of the direct consequences of climate-induced environmental changes that significantly impact lives and finance; and transitional risk, which arises when Governments decide to move towards low emission production through regulation. She said that this latter risk potentially poses a bigger financial threat, as a significant number of industries will face a higher cost of doing business. She stressed that, while these Government actions are necessary to save the planet, Governments must enact clear, credible decisions now in order to allow economies to adjust smoothly to new standards. To this end, she added that the best signal Governments can send is adequate carbon pricing, set at a national level but within an international framework.
Mr. ANDRÉ, noting how the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of communication, said that Governments need to rely on accurate scientific data to convey the right messages to their citizenry. Similarly, building climate resilient economies requires decision makers to decode information that is anchored in effective monitoring and evaluation of reliable climate information. He stated that digital solutions in this regard offer the opportunity to leapfrog development stages in a more sustainable way, but cautioned that the international community must remember that such solutions require hardcore investment in electronic communications and technological infrastructure to be effective. Turning to financing, he called on the international community to establish a financial basis of principles and standards for the creation of a minimum common approach to environmental challenges. He also invited the international community to participate in the upcoming high-level European Union-Africa Green Investment Forum to be held on 23 April.
Ms. SIMONETTI said that universal access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines is both a moral imperative and the first step towards economic recovery. She called on developed and developing countries to work together to pave the way for a zero-carbon future, but stressed that this cannot happen without the involvement of both workers and communities. She also urged Governments to expand social-protection measures to ensure that all people have access to basic social security guarantees, health care and income security. Further, additional issuances of special drawing rights and debt restructuring will allow countries to manage sustainable recovery. She added that increased concessional financing will need to do the heavy lifting for successful economic recovery.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the United States underscored the importance of multilateralism in addressing climate change and said that the Government intends to significantly invest in climate action both domestically and internationally as part of its efforts to build back better following the COVID-19 crisis. She added that the United States is “fully re engaging on this critical issue”.
The representative of Bangladesh detailed Government pandemic-response measures, including a $14.6 billion stimulus package to help those in need and facilitate a sustainable, resilient recovery. Calling on the private sector to support national recovery efforts — especially in vulnerable countries, he said that climate-resilient development cannot be achieved without access to modern technology. To this end, he urged the international community to fulfil its commitments pertaining to technology transfer to both close the digital divide and foster inclusive growth.
The representative of Guatemala, speaking for the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, called for improved investment in financing options for middle-income countries along with efforts to enhance agricultural production and food security in developing countries.
The representative of South Africa, emphasizing the importance of climate financing, cautioned that addressing this issue cannot be reduced to the simplistic narrative that a mobilization of mostly private financing will “save the day”. Developed countries will also need to muster the political will to honor their commitments, reverse the decline in public finance and avoid one size fits all solutions to reliance on fossil fuels.
The representative of Sweden said that including youth in climate-related decision-making processes is essential to building resilient future economies.
Several speakers representing civil society organizations then addressed the session.
A speaker for the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development said that the so-called solutions presented during this Forum diverted focus away from the real problems while serving to help wealthy countries. Such countries hoard vaccines and speak of equal contributions to address climate change, which insults the international community, as developing countries can barely cope with the impacts of climate change, while rich countries and corporations reap the benefits of growth powered by fossil fuels. She urged increased regulation, calling on the world to “divest from harm and invest in care”.
A speaker for the Civil Society Financing for Development Group said that post-pandemic recovery should happen “from the bottom up” in order to help those most left behind. She also pointed out the accelerating pace of scientific and technological advancements and increasing control thereof by transnational oligopolies outside of national control. While technology is held up as a potential solution to current crises, this technology and its necessary infrastructure is highly concentrated in the North and in urban centres of the South while the rest of the world struggles. To remedy this, she called for increased democratic control of corporate governance.
A speaker for the United Religions Initiative cited survey data from at least seven countries in which over 1,000 respondents indicated that Governments have diverted climate funding to more urgent necessities during the pandemic, in effect “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. In order to close the gap between the Government and people working in the field, she urged inviting everyone to the table to develop national policies that understand environmental impacts and build trust between policymakers and the citizenry.
Satyendra Prasad (Fiji), speaking also for the Netherlands as co facilitators of the outcome document negotiations, said the outcome document attempts to encapsulate all views expressed in a concise manner. Encouraged that the debate has shifted to new issues — including about what is at stake for financing for development in the post-COVID-19 era — he expressed gratitude to the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development, and described efforts to build on the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development. “We have tried to strive for a universal agenda that is transformative,” he said, addressing the structural causes of poverty, while acknowledging the need for more contributions from all actors in society, as agents of sustainable development.
The representative of Guinea, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation engaged in the negotiations, with a view to reaching a consensus-based document that encompassed all aspects of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. While joining consensus today, he explained that the Group had drafted a paragraph calling on the United Nations development system and the international community to provide support to middle-income countries, which was based on language from the Action Agenda and the latest quadrennial comprehensive policy review. He expressed extreme disappointment that it was not included in the outcome document, nor were references to the needs of middle-income countries.
Reiterating importance of equitable access to safe vaccines at affordable prices, which the Group considers a global public good, he said the $20 billion gap for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) Facility must be addressed. More broadly, he said any extension of social protection must be taken in accordance with national policies, noting that in paragraph 21 — on matters around carbon pricing — a one-size-fits-all approach is inadequate. On paragraph 25, he strongly disagreed with the inclusion of a mention of the Inter agency Task Force, as it is not a United Nations initiative and its work is biased against developing countries. On paragraph 32, he expressed concern about references to a common framework that would include a definition of sustainable economic activities.
The representative of the European Union said the bloc recognizes the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as the central framework for financing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Acknowledging the importance of ensuring equitable access to and distribution of safe, affordable vaccines, he said the European Union will continue to be involved in the global pandemic response, most efficiently through the COVAX Facility, which requires financial contributions.
He welcomed the reference to climate and environment finance, however, in a year that will feature the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), more ambitious language would have been important, especially related to the phasing out of fossil fuels. He expressed disappointment that the outcome document remains “rather superficial” and was weakened during final negotiations. He likewise expressed regret that it makes no reference to carbon pricing, as market-based approaches must be part of the post pandemic recovery. It is the European Union’s understanding that nature-based solutions are only those that make specific contributions to biodiversity.
In paragraph 53, he stressed the importance of scaling up climate financing, noting that, among the many sources, loans and equity will play key role. On debt and liquidity, the European Union has promoted the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to provide poor countries with the treatment needed, while the formulation of paragraph 38 deviates from the compromise outlined in a specific General Assembly resolution. On international development cooperation, he confirmed the European Union’s position as the largest provider — representing 0.5 per cent of the bloc’s collective income — stressing that domestic resource mobilization should remain at the core of recovery as the most resilient source of financing. He broadly called for strengthening public finance management and complementing efforts that enhance domestic revenue. On illicit financial flows, he advocated efforts to improve existing processes and mechanisms and close tax havens, expressing disappointment that the Addis Tax Initiative was not more strongly reflected in the outcome document.
The representative of Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, advocated for greater international cooperation, stressing the importance of unity in achieving the 2030 Agenda. Associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, he said his delegation worked to achieve consensus on paragraph 21, concerning fossil fuels. He cautioned against proactively judging it as a solution to climate change, especially as the outcome of discussions taking place in the Paris Agreement framework is unknown. He stressed the importance of a holistic approach, that considers each country’s priorities on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities. He expressed disappointment that the Council’s proposed amendments were not taken onboard, nonetheless expressing his belief that today’s conclusions will provide a solid foundation for the future.
Also speaking were representatives of Hungary, United States, Guatemala (on behalf of the Like-Minded Supporters of Middle-Income Countries), Saudi Arabia (also on behalf of Algeria, Iraq and the Russian Federation), Brazil, Liechtenstein, United Kingdom, Philippines, Iran, Mexico and the Russian Federation.
Munir Akram (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council, delivered closing remarks.
Source: UN Economic and Social Council