Seeking innovative solutions to fund ambitious agenda

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is ambitious and will require trillions of dollars of investment, with cost assessments ranging between $5 to $7 trillion per year. Three years into realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, there have been numerous successes – countries have taken concrete steps to mobilize domestic resources and implement national sustainable development strategies, and interest in sustainable investment is growing. But we face growing challenges as well. Although global growth is positive, there are growing risks and wavering commitments on a range of issues – climate change, trade and economic and financial cooperation.

In many countries, public investment is constrained, while private investment is often short-term and does not flow to where it is most needed. If we want to eradicate poverty and achieve a more sustainable world by 2030, we need to unlock adequate levels of financing and investments for sustainable development.

Focusing on several priority areas could help fast-track progress.

First, making progress requires political support at all levels. Governments can show leadership by taking policy actions that facilitate and attract sustainable finance. This requires steadfast commitment that extends beyond standard political cycles and aims to mobilize the full range of resources – public and private, domestic and international.

Second, engagement with the private sector needs to be stepped up. With funds in global capital markets amounting to around $300 trillion, there is much greater scope for tapping the full potential of private investment. More needs to be done to incentivize greater sustainable investment. This calls for greater partnership between investors, business, governments, development banks, financial institutions and others.

Finally, we need to make the most of innovative solutions to finance the SDGs. The resources needed to finance the 2030 Agenda exist, but innovation is essential to getting them where they are most needed. Technological and financial innovations are creating new tools and opening opportunities to address long-standing deficiencies in access to finance for large parts of the world’s population.

The Secretary-General’s High-level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, taking place on 24 September at UN Headquarters, aims to put the spotlight on these priorities. It will identify key actions and initiatives by Governments, business and the international community to accelerate implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda. And, it will call on stakeholders to act and report on progress to the General Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in 2019.

While substantial gaps remain, the evidence indicates strong potential to scale up progress on financing the SDGs — acting urgently and collaboratively on the basis of strong, national commitments and new coalitions of actors who can catalyze investments and innovation in support of sustainable development.

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