The bold choices that will define the future of development

UNDP-IsDB partnership for the SDGs

January 18, 2022

The UNDP-IsDB partnership includes the Youth Co:Lab initiative, the largest youth social entrepreneurship movement in Asia and the Pacific.

UNDP Pakistan

The development financing sector is at a crossroads. Many developing countries are struggling to raise the level of finances needed to tackle and adapt to climate change, which is now widespread, rapid and intensifying. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, their already thin finances have been stretched to breaking point. Indeed, the annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) financing gap in developing countries is estimated to have increased by US$1.7 trillion in 2020 -- a 70 percent rise on pre-pandemic levels. Yet countries now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make smart, different choices that will spur decisive climate action; protect and restore our natural world; and bring clean, affordable energy to millions of people for the first time, for instance. Therefore, the United Nations and its key partners like the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) are working even more closely together to help countries and communities to co-invest in that greener, more inclusive and more sustainable future.

Since 2016, UNDP and IsDB have been working together through a Partnership Framework/ Memorandum of Understanding that has just been extended by three years. Our Joint Action Plan is based on the principle of co-creating much-needed development solutions with our partner countries that will accelerate progress on the SDGs. That includes our joint efforts to help governments rapidly analyse and respond to the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNDP, serving as the UN’s technical lead on the socio-economic response to the pandemic, has supported over 144 Socio-Economic Impact Assessments and 121 Socio-Economic Response Plans to date – a vital means to inform countries’ recovery paths. IsDB and UNDP teams collaborated on COVID-19 Socio-Economic Impact Assessments in Morocco, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Or consider Cameroon, where the Ministry of Health, UNDP and the IsDB are working together to support the country’s national COVID-19 response programme.

The UNDP-IsDB partnership is also working to unlock new sources of SDG finance at the country level. The potential is immense given that aligning just 1 percent of the $379 trillion of total assets held by banks, institutional investors and asset managers could be enough to fill the annual SDG financing gap. Our efforts include supporting countries to design and implement Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs) -- ensuring that financing for the COVID-19 recovery is aligned with the SDGs. We are also designing SDG financing strategies with multi-stakeholder platforms including in Bangladesh, Maldives, Malaysia, Turkmenistan and Morocco. Moreover, IsDB and the UNDP Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector Development are supporting countries to access much-needed research and training to build the capacities they need to leverage private and public capital through Islamic Financing. For instance, in April 2021, the Centre conducted a Pre-Feasibility Study for Green Sukuk Issuance in the Republic of Uzbekistan with IsDB, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, the Capital Markets Agency of Malaysia and the Government of Uzbekistan.

UNDP and IsDB have partnered with the Government of Cameroon, UNOPS and UNICEF in a project to improve Cameroon’s COVID-19 testing capacity, early detection and case management.

UNDP Cameroon

The two organizations are teaming-up with new partners to spur investments in key areas like the clean energy transition, a vital driver of climate action. The IsDB, UNDP and Trine, a crowd investing platform, have partnered to conduct impact assessments through UNDP’s Climate Action Impact Tool in sub-Saharan African, for example. After pinpointing these acute energy needs in Nigeria, Trine raised €2 million from nearly 4,000 crowdfunding investors through three separate campaigns. In parallel, the IsDB invested €1 million in Greenlight Planet, a social enterprise that provides affordable solar systems to off-grid households across Nigeria. As a result of both initiatives, over 50,000 households and over 292,000 people have benefited from new access to clean, renewable energy. It has also created over 14,000 additional income opportunities. Additionally, this collaboration has contributed directly to Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement on climate change by reducing carbon emissions by over 83,000 tonnes.

Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship is central to our cooperation. Building on our joint NGO Empowerment Programme, UNDP and IsDB are joining forces under the TADAMON Pandemic Accelerator to support innovative NGO-led COVID-19 response solutions. Our results have included everything from extending electricity via solar power to education facilities in rural Lebanon; to fundraising campaigns in Kazakhstan to purchase vital medical equipment; to supporting over 40,000 students in Turkey to boost their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills. Since October 2020, we have also worked together in these and other countries such as Somalia, Tunisia, Indonesia and Morocco, to develop the capacity of civil society organizations in key areas like fundraising and digital crowdfunding. In 2019, the IsDB became the newest partner to the Youth Co:Lab initiative -- the largest youth social entrepreneurship movement in Asia and the Pacific, which was created by UNDP and the Citi Foundation. To date, Youth Co:Lab has benefited over 8,000 young entrepreneurs who have developed or improved almost 1,000 start-ups addressing SDG challenges, including efforts to reduce poverty and boost gender equality. We are also aiming to get ahead of the rapid ongoing digital transformation. For example, IsDB, UNDP, the Citi Foundation and Startup Bangladesh produced The State of the Ecosystem for Youth Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh through the Youth Co:Lab partnership -- a ground-breaking study that provides data-driven recommendations to strengthen the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem there.

Together, UNDP and IsDB are assisting countries to identify and prioritize investments that can help shift billions of dollars towards the SDGs. This valued partnership is also supporting countries to make bold choices that will drive forward decisive efforts to protect and restore our faltering planet. At the same time, our joint endeavours are helping to drive down poverty and inequalities while boosting human development -- bringing tangible improvements to the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

This article was originally published in the January 2022 edition of the IsDB newsletter on the theme “Greener Future: Islamic Development Bank Commits to Supporting Member Countries’ Climate Action Plans”.

Aligning just 1 percent of the US$379 trillion of total assets held by banks, institutional investors and asset managers could be enough to fill the annual SDG financing gap.