In South Sudan, some 6 million, people are affected by widespread food insecurity & malnutrition. Credit: UNDP

As prepared for delivery.

I would like to thank the State of Qatar for co-organising this important event with UNDP, and am honoured to welcome you today to discuss the evolution of development cooperation in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs.

From N-S donor/recipient relationships, to multi-stakeholder partnerships

The new Agenda raises the bar of ambition beyond development frameworks of the past. Its underlying motivation is to transform our world, in the way we live, work, and do business. And it calls on “all countries and all stakeholders” to do so in “collaborative partnership” .

This is the first time in history that all countries share a common, universal development agenda. It acknowledges that nations depend on one another and must work together to solve the world’s most critical challenges. 

Traditional North-South development cooperation models will not be sufficient on their own for countries to achieve the bold ambition of the SDGs. A more diverse development landscape, anchored in multistakeholder ecosystems, is required, ones that bring together new partners and new approaches.

South-South and Triangular Cooperation will be a critical component of this new landscape, particularly in terms of knowledge exchange, technology transfer and financing. UNDP has long been a strong supporter of South-South solutions, and we have responded to the call of the 2030 Agenda to expand such work – for example, through our “SSMart for SDGs” , which is a global marketplace for showcasing and exchanging local development solutions. Peer-to-peer exchange allows these solutions to be adapted to different country contexts.

Intergovernmental cooperation is necessary for SDG achievement, but is not sufficient on its own. All of society must be involved. Stronger partnerships and new ways of working among governments, businesses, civil society, and others are necessary. The 2030 Agenda encourages a shift from donor-recipient relationships to multi-stakeholder partnerships, recognising their complementary contributions.

UNDP is actively engaged in building and growing such partnerships, particularly in helping support the alignment of business interests and investments with the SDGs. Through our Istanbul International Centre on Private Sector in Development, we led preparation of the pioneering “G20 Inclusive Business Framework”. This sets out recommendations on how to create an enabling environment for – and to scale-up – inclusive business approaches. Central to this approach is the inclusion of low-income people across companies’ value chains as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers. A complementary initiative is the “Business Call to Action”, a UNDP-led partnership that includes almost 200 companies committed to implementing concrete inclusive business initiatives worldwide.

On the philanthropy side, UNDP works through the SDG Philanthropy Platform, a collaboration with the Foundation Center and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisor, to support philanthropic institutions and their grantees at the country level in SDG planning and implementation processes.

UNDP also supports the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, which is an important example of a voluntary, multi-stakeholder platform. It brings together governments, bilateral and multilateral organisations, civil society and representatives from parliaments and the private sector, all committed to strengthening the effectiveness of their development cooperation. UNDP is proud to support this initiative, which is putting principles of partnership, transparency, results focus, and country ownership to work for the SDGs. The Partnership’s country-led monitoring in over 80 countries and territories remains a crucial barometer of tracking effectiveness of development cooperation.

SDG Finance

Effective development cooperation goes hand-in-hand with the question of resources. The financing needs to implement the 2030 Agenda are no doubt massive. The challenge is not only to mobilise all sources of finance – domestic and international, public and private – but also to align financing flows and policies with sustainable development priorities.

The good news is that the interest of the private sector in linking investments to sustainability objectives has been growing. The Global Impact Investing Network estimates that the total portfolio value of impact investment is US$114 billion – with an estimated 26 percent growth in commitments in 2017, and that sixty per cent of impact investors are aligning their portfolios to the SDGs.

We have also recently seen the establishment of the New Development Bank by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Both hold considerable promise to complement existing sources of finance for development and provide more opportunities for countries.

Another important element in ensuring the effectiveness of development cooperation is by tracking the progress towards achieving the SDGs – and adjusting actions as necessary. Many efforts are underway in this area. Let me just mention the newly created Global Alliance on Reporting on SDG 16 and related targets, which is chaired by the State of Qatar and has a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee composed of government, private sector and civil society representatives. UNDP is proud to be its co-facilitator.

Zooming in on development cooperation to achieve SDG16

The enormous potential of expanded models of development cooperation will help countries make progress across the SDGs. Let me highlight the potential for one SDG in particular: SDG 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. 

Protracted crises, such as those in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, have shown that new responses from the international community are needed, not just for countries in crisis but also for neighboring countries affected by crisis. Humanitarian responses on their own are insufficient to respond to the scale of suffering. New approaches are needed – and have been called for – which bring together humanitarian and development partners. This was the call at the World Humanitarian Summit last year and is at the heart of the humanitarian-development nexus and the New Way of Working. These new joined up approaches help the UN and the international community respond to today’s crises and to address the underlying fragilities that gave rise to them in the first place and which exist in other countries around the world. They are critical for preventing conflict and sustaining peace.   

Take South Sudan, where some 6 million people are affected by widespread food insecurity and malnutrition, a dire situation that is compounded by insecurity and conflict. UNDP’s response has focused on building local-level resilience and enabling conditions for peace, security and stability. To this end, we work with UNICEF, FAO and WFP, under the New Way of Working, to restore basic services and sustainable livelihoods and promote access to justice, peacebuilding, and reconciliation. We also work closely with UNMISS to support the national dialogue secretariat and establishment of a Joint Integrated Police force.

In Iraq, UNDP is pioneering a new approach to stabilization focusing on speed, functionality and scale. Through our Funding Facility for Stabilization, we work in 28 cities newly liberated from ISIL control and reaching over two million Iraqis returning home. Over 1,100 projects are currently underway, including 400 in Mosul. More than 95% of all stabilization projects are delivered through the local private sector, employing local labor, so enabling faster return of IDPs home.

SDG 16 calls for building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels -- and working with governments and partners, UNDP does just that.  We support one in three parliaments around the world in their role of anchoring the SDGs in national policies and budgets, and monitoring progress. And we are developing practical tools. For instance, we are partnering with the Islamic Development Bank and the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption on a parliamentary handbook on parliaments’ role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals , and with the Inter-Parliamentary Union for an assessment tool to help parliaments evaluate their performance against the standards set forth in the SDGs.

The role of the UN development system / UNDP

Allow me to add a final note on the UN as a partner in development cooperation. To make the United Nations optimally equipped to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, the UN needs to become better aligned and equipped to work seamlessly across its humanitarian, development and peacekeeping operations. The UN Secretary General has therefore embarked upon a series of interlinked reforms that UNDP is fully supporting.


In conclusion, let me emphasize that the 2030 Agenda offers a unique opportunity to put the whole world on a more prosperous and sustainable development path. As all of you in this room know, achieving this will not be easy. Adopting a truly integrated approach presents complex challenges. Leaving no-one behind may be hard to visualize in so many contexts today. And wisely identifying and managing risks requires a different set of skills. For these reasons, strong and broad-based partnerships become ever more important for SDG achievement.

At today’s event, we have brought together esteemed speakers from diverse backgrounds and with a fascinating mix of experiences. I am certain you will have a vibrant discussion on how to adapt and strengthen development cooperation to ensure that the SDGs are achieved for everyone, everywhere.


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