Thursday, 16 July 2015


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Global Civil Society
Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
This week, the United Nations is holding the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One of the major development conferences this year, Addis will likely see new initiatives, commitments and partnerships all geared toward its overarching goal: finance the sustainable development goals.
Devex is on the ground at the headquarters of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, talking to high-level representatives from donor agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. We’ll provide continuing updates on the buzz from the weeklong meetings on this running blog, so check back regularly.

What we know so far:

● The Addis Tax Initiative is launched to support domestic resource mobilization.
● The ONE Campaign is launching
● The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commits to creating a Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network, or CHAMPS, as well as building a Global Health Analytics Platform.
● The European Union joins Power Africa, and pledges to allocate 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in grants from the 2014-2020 budget to support power generation and electricity access across sub-Saharan Africa.
● The Islamic Development Bank has increased funding for activities related to the SDGs to $150 billion in the next 15 years, almost double the amount it spent for the MDGs.
● The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data will be launched, and the United States will be a founding member.
● The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and U.N. Development Program launched a new initiative that will provide tax audit assistance to developing countries.
● The World Bank and International Monetary Fund announced a joint initiative aimed at strengthening tax systems in developing countries. Civil society organizations meanwhile are wary that the creation of an intergovernmental regulatory body on taxes may not materialize.
● Major international financial institutions announced plans to make $400 billion available in the next three years to finance sustainable development goals.
● The Gates Foundation committed $75 million to the World Bank-managed Global Financing Facility Trust Fund to tackle maternal and child health. This and additional commitments by other bilateral donors bring total mobilized resources for the cause under GFF to $12 billion.
● Canada invests $40 million to jump-start a new partnership between GFF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which aims to mobilize private sector resources for maternal, newborn and child health.


10:38 p.m., July 15
An agreement has been reached
After a lengthy debate into the night an agreement has been reached at the third International Conference on Financing for Development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was agreed to by the 193 U.N. member states in attendance.
The United Nations called the agreement a “milestone in forging an enhanced global partnership” in a statement, but civil society didn’t quite see it that way.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the agreement is a critical step forward.
“The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind,” he said in the statement.
Members of civil society are disagreeing with that assessment.
The Action Agenda contains more than 100 concrete measures and addresses multiple sources of finance and covers a range of issues, including technology, science, innovation, trade and capacity building.
Among the key issues highlighted in the document are commitments about domestic resource mobilization and aligning private investment with sustainable development in part by setting the right incentives.
But what’s missing — and what had stalled negotiations — is the creation of a U.N. global tax body. As a result, the OECD will continue to be the intergovernmental body that adopts global tax standards.
Civil society organizations, which were pushing for the tax body, are disappointed in the outcome.
“The decision is an appalling failure and a great blow to the fight against poverty and injustice,”ActionAid’s international tax power campaign manager Martin Hojsik said in a statement. “It means that developing countries, which are losing billions of dollars a year to tax dodging, are not being given an equal say in fixing unjust global tax rules.”
Civil society representatives criticized the deal as the powerful developed countries not wanting to cede power to other countries.
“Rich countries decided to maintain a system where money goes from south to north, but the rules follow the opposite route,” said Pooja Rangaprasad of the Financial Transparency Coalition.

Civil society also expressed concerns that the negotiations were not conducted in good faith and didn’t give developing countries a true voice, which sets a bad tone for the post-2015 and climate negotiations.

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