Helen Clark: Statement on Africa and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda: Mobilizing the Means of Implementation at High-Level Side Event on the Margins of the 2016 UN High Level Political Forum

I am pleased to join this side event focused on mobilizing means of implementation for sustainable development in Africa.

Realising the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda will be transformational for Africa. Achieving the goals of both is a huge undertaking and requires new approaches. The challenges we all face are interlinked, and the Sustainable Development Goals were designed with that in mind.

Many African countries are already working to domesticate and implement the SDGs, alongside Agenda 2063. The main challenge as always is to translate strategies into concrete development outcomes. A strong package on means of implementation is critical for that. Promoting national ownership and supporting the building of national capacity for is critical. As well, UNDP sees other four main elements as critical in mobilizing the means of implementation in Africa.

First, blending financing mechanisms.

As noted in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, we must draw on all sources of finance – public and private, and domestic and international.

o The United Nations development system recognizes the ongoing importance and value of Official Development Assistance (ODA), especially for LDCs, LICs, SIDS, and fragile countries across regions. ODA, however, has plateaued at around $135 billion – far short of the 0.7 per cent GNI commitment. The share of it allocated to the poorest and most vulnerable countries remains too low. These shortfalls don’t help SDG implementation.

As well, the challenges which Agenda 2030 sets out to address require international public finance beyond ODA.

o In Africa, accelerated funding and knowledge and technology transfer is needed in areas from communicable disease control to climate change adaptation and mitigation and beyond to build resilience and promote structural economic transformation.

o Leveraging private sources of finance is critical. These can be complemented by impact investment, changes in regulatory frameworks, carbon emissions charging, eliminating inefficient and ineffective subsidies, and by enhancing financial inclusion – especially for women and young people.

o Effective domestic resource mobilization is central to financing the SDGs. Tax revenues, however, are still relatively low in Africa. Some countries, including Algeria, Lesotho, and Seychelles, however, have tax revenue to GDP ratios of more than thirty per cent, which is comparable to the average performance of OECD members. Improving domestic resource mobilization is one of the main objectives of Agenda 2063.

Second, partnerships and coalitions.

Broad coalitions around the SDGs are needed to leverage stakeholders’ strengths, build synergies, and promote national ownership. Government leadership and commitment to the SDGs is vital, but it is insufficient on its own. To achieve the SDGs, there will need to be engagement across civil society, the private sector, philanthropy, multilateral institutions, and development partners as appropriate.

Third, sharing knowledge and experience.

Generating and sharing new ideas, knowledge, and technologies will be critical. Every country has relevant experiences to share and new things to learn. As reiterated in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, South-South Co-operation has a significant role to play in achieving the SDGs: sharing experiences and lessons among African countries should be the starting point.

Fourth, promoting integrated approaches.

Advancing sustainable development requires integrated approaches across sectors. Often the key obstacles to achieving an important goal may lie outside an immediate targeted sector. The 2030 Agenda must be approached holistically. The aim must surely be to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth which neither exacerbates inequalities nor trashes the environment. This requires “whole of government” and “whole of society” approaches. The UN development system must support this through joined-up UN approaches for national efforts.

In collaboration with other agencies, UNDP supported the development of the joined up UN Development System’s MAPS (Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support) approach to SDG implementation. Ninety-five UN Country Teams have already been requested by governments to support SDG implementation. UNDP’s own expertise and skills are offered to countries as part of the UN Development Group-wide approach:

o In twenty countries, representing all regions and developing country typologies, UNDP’s policy, programme, and seed funding support is piloting innovative mainstreaming activities ranging from raising public awareness to incorporating the SDGs into national plans.

o In partnership with the African Union Commission and the Government of Kazakhstan, UNDP organized capacity building sessions in June this year in Johannesburg and Dakar on the rollout and mainstreaming of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 into national plans and strategies. These events brought together participants from 45 African countries, and included representatives of governments, civil society, academia, and development partners. This was an opportunity to share experiences and lessons on the rollout of the two agendas.

o UNDP has supported the establishment by the Government of Egypt of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development to support African and other developing countries in the formulation and implementation of South-South and triangular co-operation programmes.

o UNDP has partnered with the OECD in the Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative to build the tax audit capacity of countries. This will complement efforts to build capacity to address illicit financial flows from the continent – which the African Union estimates are averaging $50 billion each year.

o As articulated in its Strategic Plan and its Regional Programme for Africa, UNDP is working with many African countries on how to ensure that development is risk-informed. UNDP’s support for Africa’s unified position on COP21, the integrated strategies for the Sahel and the Great Lakes, and at national level is based on this approach.

o The SDGs cannot be achieved on a planet devastated by climate change. UNDP is working with African governments to support climate change adaptation and mitigation, including with growing support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Early grants have been approved by the GCF to finance five projects across Malawi, Gambia, Mali and Senegal in collaboration with UNDP. We will work hard to support African countries to access vital funding through this mechanism.


Mobilizing means of implementation calls for strengthening national capacity for SDG implementation, blending financing drawn from across all sources, expanding partnerships and coalitions, and sharing knowledge and experience through South-South and Triangular Co-operation. UNDP will continue to scale up its work in support of these critical implementation actions in support of achieving the SDGs in Africa.

I hope that today’s event will enable a valuable exchange of experiences and lessons learned on mobilizing the different means of implementation.

Source: United Nations Development Programme