Build forward-looking consensus to finance sustainable development, UN urges Asia-Pacific States

“No region is better placed than Asia and the Pacific to shape the means of implementation for the post-2015 development agenda,” Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) told a high-level meeting on sustainable development financing in Jakarta today. “For too long there has been a great deal of talk, but now we are discussing the specifics of the financing framework, with concrete actions. One of the key priorities is to recognize the importance of and scope for domestic resource mobilization, to tap the large pool of regional savings, and to upscale climate finance to leverage development.”

More than 200 participants, including 50 ministers, as well as deputy ministers, central bank governors and deputy governors, and senior officials from almost 40 countries are meeting for an Asia-Pacific high-level consultation in Jakarta on Wednesday and Thursday, to build forward-looking consensus on financing for sustainable development. This meeting is being co-hosted by ESCAP and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank Institute and the United Nations Development Programme.

The United Nations has said that 2015 will be a milestone year of global action, with the international community expected to adopt a transformative post-2015 development agenda, a set of universal sustainable development goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals, and a meaningful agreement on global climate change action. “Without a far-reaching financing strategy, the visionary goals and new agreements will not be deliverable in the Asia-Pacific region or globally,” said Dr. Akhtar. “The outcome of this key consultation will be our region’s input to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, from 13 to 16 July 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”

ESCAP’s recent estimates of the annual availability of financial resources for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific show that levels of official development assistance, while important, are relatively low at $30 billion. Other potential sources include $218 billion in remittances, $492 billion in foreign direct investment, $4 trillion in fiscal revenues, and $6 trillion in private savings. In addition, the stock of financial assets of the region’s most wealthy individuals amounted to $35 trillion in 2013.

The Executive Secretary added that: “The consultation will provide an opportunity for ESCAP’s members and associate members, along with the private sector, academia and civil society organizations, to both re-evaluate the role of traditional sources of finance and explore innovative instruments to fund investments in the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.”

Bambang PS. Brodjonegoro, Minister of Finance of Indonesia said that: “This consultation can act as a valuable means to not only facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices, but also to build an enhanced development partnership within the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, this high-level consultation will result in tangible and actionable recommendations to improve regional financial capacity to support the emerging sustainable development goals, as well as the development of additional and innovative financing sources and instruments to meet these objectives.”

Participants are expected to adopt a regional action plan on financing for development, which will address social sector financing, infrastructure financing, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation, for which it is critical to secure new and sustainable sources of finance.