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As world leaders gather to kick off the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, CGD’s experts weigh in to shed some light on the ongoing debates, with innovative evidence-based solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges, and also discuss what’s not on the agenda but should be.
As global decision makers meet in Davos, one of the top agenda items should be how to mobilize more private finance to fund the Sustainable Development Goals—particularly how to strengthen the role of one of the most important tools of the international community: the multilateral development banks.
Do the fifteen year targets of the SDGs stand in the way of their vision of integration and sustainability? If you wanted to achieve long term development progress, you’d probably focus on technology change, learning and innovation in policies, and improving institutional functioning. If you wanted to improve outcomes in fifteen years, you’d probably focus on throwing money at technical solutions. The problems with the second approach include that we don’t have the money, and the technical solutions won’t necessarily work best over the long term.
The Sustainable Development Goals are an ambitious set of targets for global development progress by 2030 that were agreed by the United Nations in 2015. A review of the literature on meeting "zero targets" suggests very high costs compared to available resources, but also that in many cases there remains a considerable gap between financing known technical solutions and achieving the outcomes called for in the SDGs. In some cases, we (even) lack the technical solutions required to achieve the zero targets, suggesting the need for research and development of new approaches.
It is time to take a fresh look at the PSWs and to ask some basic questions about their role and instruments. The aim of this essay is to raise issues that need to be addressed as we think about how PSWs should evolve and adapt to meet the formidable challenges ahead. These questions and the answers gained through careful research can help chart the right course and set the right expectations for MDB PSWs, DFIs, and impact investors generally.
Already 126 days into implementation, the 230 individual indicators that make up the SDGs are not quite ready for action. The decision to not consider data availability during goal and target selection may come back to haunt SDG implementation.
The total scale of incremental investment requirements in infrastructure in developing countries has been estimated at around USD 1 trillion a year, with a range of related studies suggesting numbers between $815 billion to $1.3 trillion. While all such numbers are open to considerable debate, and were not designed to measure the cost of delivering the specific SDG infrastructure targets, they suggest the likely scale of the financing challenge for an SDG agenda which includes universal coverage to adequate housing, water, sanitation, modern energy and communications technologies.
Cared for by her grandmother in a village in Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is emphatic that her experiences as a child are what led her into a career in public service and development. “I lived some of the issues that people are concerned about in development,” she explains in the video below, part of a new CGD podcast.
With the outcome document for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now submitted, the development community turns to the final piece of the SDG agenda: the indicators. While the goals and targets have endured unending negotiations, from the Open Working Group to all UN member states, the underlying indicators have largely remained a big question. It’s now time to turn to that question.