Experts gathered at the International Monetary Fund on Thursday for a discussion titled “Sustainable Development Goals: Making It Happen.”
A panel of finance, development and thought leaders discussed how to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals a comprehensive agenda that countries adopted in 2015. Much of the talk focused on financing.
“Unfortunately, countries are not on track. As a general matter, are not on track to achieve the goals. And, even if they have the right intentions wouldn’t have the funding to be able to do it,” said David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
Panelists stressed the need to draw in public and private funding for sustainable development.
“So, here it is my pledge and I would like to encourage everyone to help us to gain this fight and put all the partnerships together – the private, the public, and basically do the sustainable investments as well. Because, only jointly we can implement the SDGs,” said Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission.
Elliott C Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and Chief Economist, UN DESA, said attracting private investment can present a tough choice for policymakers.
“I think what will happen is that companies will see their own business interest in investing in sustainability as long as the framework is predictable, the direction of policy is clear. But, we don’t have that yet. And the risk, the risk then becomes manageable. But, the problem is, it’s not clear yet. And, until we have that, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to de-risk private investment through the use of public resources that could perhaps be devoted to the investments that David was talking about that are not suitable for private investment.”
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, CEO of Christian Aid, said that often the outside investment comes at a price.
“The question that I want to ask, is when we talk about private investment, about creating this conducive environment, especially in those countries that are debt-ridden, they’re in debt distress. It’s not attractive. I heard that in some places it’s not attractive for private investors to go in there. So, what do government do? Governments end up creating, giving more and more incentives to bring in these companies. What is the return on investment to the public? Because, what we’ve seen so far in a lot of places. Correct me if I’m wrong, maybe there are good examples. But what we’ve seen is public resources are used to incentivize private sector coming in. And yet, when you look at the equation in terms of what does the public get back, it’s not decent jobs, it’s businesses that do not respect human rights, it’s businesses that don’t respect climate change. It’s businesses that don’t respect women and women’s rights in terms of labor laws,” she said.