2nd LD Writethru: UN chief appeals for more money for SDGs

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UNITED NATIONS, April 15 (Xinhua) -- "We need more money to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

In his opening remarks to the 2019 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) financing for development forum, the UN chief highlighted the importance of financing for implementing the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

"2019 is a defining year for implementing the SDGs and the Paris Agreement," he said, adding that so far these tasks are not keeping pace and they face serious challenges and evolving risks.

Uneven growth, rising debt levels, possible upticks in financial volatility, and heightened global trade tensions are complicating the implementation of the SDGs, said the UN chief.

According to Guterres, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund found that developing countries face an average annual funding gap of some 2.6 trillion U.S. dollars of investment in health, education, roads, electricity, water and sanitation.

For low-income developing countries, this means additional annual spending that can amount to as much as 15 percent of their Gross Domestic Product, he told this year's forum, which runs till on Thursday.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is the blueprint for the global partnership to finance sustainable development, said Guterres, adding that everyone, and particularly developed countries, must meet their commitments in full.

Development aid remains essential, especially for the poorest countries, but supporting domestic mobilization of resources should not be disregarded, Guterres said.

The UN chief said that it means increasing tax revenue, and that it also requires the international community to do much more to fight the tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows that undermine this effort.

These measures alone would be enough to finance the public services that are essential to achieve the SDGs in some emerging market economies, he said.

Furthermore, the secretary-general said the gap can also be filled by increasing both the amount and the impact of investment through action by all stakeholders.

"Resources from International Financial Institutions can help reduce perceived risks and encourage other stakeholders to invest, while funds from philanthropies can be leveraged in public-private partnerships," he added.

Guterres emphasized that new types of financing can also contribute, including innovative financial instruments like green bonds and social investment bonds, crowdfunding and social entrepreneurship. "The potential is considerable; for example, green bonds grew from a zero baseline to over 220 billion U.S. dollars in a decade."

In his remarks, Guterres also mentioned the Strategy for Financing that he launched last year. He believed that it is "already making some progress" in different levels.

According to the UN chief, at the global level, he is convening a new group, the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance, comprising the Chief Executives of large companies around the world.

At the regional level, the UN is strengthening its collaboration with multilateral development banks to scale up climate finance and increase access to finance for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, he said.

At the country level, in line with the reform of the United Nations Development System, the UN is strengthening its capacity to support governments as they mobilize domestic resources and unlock new sources of private and public finance, said Guterres.

Guterres said this Strategy for Financing "sets out ways in which the United Nations can support the fundamental shift in the international financial system that is needed to align global economic policies and financial systems with the 2030 Agenda." Enditem

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