18 October, Washington, D.C. – Investors, businesses and development finance institutions need to scale up their efforts to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meetings in Washington, DC today.

“Uneven economic growth, high and rising debt levels, heightened trade tensions, and financial volatility are creating additional obstacles to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Steiner amid deep global concerns that climate change and rising inequalities could create powerful new barriers to the achievement of the goals.

“Action to achieve the SDGs is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. And public financing and private sector investment remains a key variable,” Steiner told Finance Ministers gathered at the meetings.

The United Nations estimates that world economic growth will be moderate, from 3.0 per cent in 2018 to 2.7 per cent in 2019 and 2.9 per cent in 2020. At the current pace, it is projected that around 500 million people could remain in extreme poverty by 2030.

As the world’s Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors focus on managing uncertainty and short-term cyclical fluctuations in the global economy, Steiner urged them to also aim for deeper and longer-term structural transformation, including the transition to greener, more inclusive and high-productivity economies.

“We need unprecedented, ambitious action, much greater leadership at national level, and more effective multilateral cooperation” to channel the necessary resources towards creating jobs, lifting millions out of poverty and tackling the climate crisis, he conveyed to delegates at the 40th Meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

As countries hit fiscal, financial and institutional constraints in their efforts to accelerate SDG progress, he urged development finance institutions, governments and businesses to align their efforts towards increasing long-term finance and investment for sustainable development.

“Mobilizing long-term private investment is critical for advancing SDG achievement. As the business case for investment in sustainable development grows, it is vital that monetary and fiscal policy instruments are designed accordingly,” he said.

According to recent estimates, achieving the SDGs could open up US$12 trillion in market opportunities and create 380 million new jobs, while action on climate change would result in savings of about US$26 trillion by 2030.

To that end, 30 influential CEOs from the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance committed to work with the UN Secretary-General over the next two years in a bid to mobilize trillions of dollars from the private sector to finance the SDGs.

Speaking to the International Development Finance Club, Steiner also called on the network’s national and regional development banks to continue increasing their efforts to align their investments with the Paris climate goals and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, working closely with government and development partners. 

Doing this could help to fill critical financing gaps, unlocking private sector financing and creating solutions to generate jobs and reduce poverty in Least Developed Countries, Steiner said.

“Reducing risk, optimizing returns on investment and creating common standards for measuring the impact of such investments are critical to achieving such objectives”, he added.

Working closely with the UN agencies, the European Union, the World Bank and IMF, UNDP has been developing new approaches – from SDG Impact investment to Integrated National Financial Frameworks - to support countries in assessing the status of their budgets, identify gaps and develop new financing strategies to help achieve the greatest possible SDG impact over the next decade.

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