Last week, world leaders, global businesses, and development practitioners gathered for the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 73) to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Here, we’ve compiled a number of important themes and key commitments that came out of UNGA this year.
The private sector was front and centre
- Heads of State across the globe pointed to innovative financing and the need for private investment. As just one illustration, the UK, Canada, Rwanda, and Ghana joined forces with private sector leaders to make a ‘Call to Invest in Africa’, emphasizing the role of high-quality investment to address the challenge of ensuring Africa’s youth have adequate access to education and employment opportunities.
- Innovative financing solutions – and particularly de-risking – are imperative components of the financing for development agenda. The Financing for Development meetings focused on fostering an enabling environment for private investment and promoting innovative financing solutions for the SDGs. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked about the role governments can play in de-risking and the need for global cooperation.
- Global businesses and investors are recognizing their role in the SDGs. This year there was a noticeably increased presence of businesses and investors at UNGA. The CEO of BlackRock, Laurence Fink, addressed the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); Johnson & Johnson, Credit Suisse, and others hosted events; and the private sector came together to endorse SDG benchmarks.
- Impact Shares, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the Rockefeller Foundation launched an SDG-focused exchange traded fund (ETF) on the New York Stock Exchange. The ETF trades under the ticker SDGA and includes shares of companies committed to supporting the SDGs in low-income countries.
- Aviva, Index Initiative, and the United Nations Foundation announced the launch of the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), which will develop benchmarks to comprehensively measure and assess the progress of 2,000 companies across major development areas (e.g., agriculture and energy).
Billions of dollars committed to climate finance
- Bill Gates told a UN forum that philanthropies can de-risk investments in promising technologies to make them more attractive to commercial investors. He urged governments, international finance institutions, and the private sector to work together. The recent commitments of $4 billion for climate solutions by 29 of the world’s largest foundations and companies could be a good starting point.
- Rwandan Minister Vincent Biruta called for more private investment in climate change, “For blended finance to be truly impactful, it must be utilised within a strong legal and institutional framework that… actively encourages private investment.”
- The Lab and IFAD will partner to develop and scale innovative financing solutions to build climate resilience for smallholder farmers in Central and West Africa. The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) will bring agriculture expertise to the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance (the Lab), a network of public and private investors that have invested >$1.15 billion to date. The Lab opens its call for ideas on October 9.
- BlackRock will partner with the governments of France and Germany as well as with the Hewlett, Grantham and IKEA foundations, to establish a blended climate solution: the Climate Finance Partnership. The Partnership will develop an investment vehicle to showcase the power of catalytic capital to mobilize institutional investment.
G-7 leaders double down on education
- International Finance Facility for Education (IIFEd) received growing support – with intent to formally launch next year. IFFEd will seek to combine guarantees and grants from donor countries to enable the major multilateral development banks to lend more to the education sector in lower- and middle-income countries.
- ING joins the UN-led education partnership, Generation Unlimited, to ensure every young person is educated, trained, or employed by 2030. Generation Unlimited aims to influence policy and practice, supporting the implementation and scale-up of proven models.
- The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Education Above All Foundation have launched a $100 million partnership. Under the partnership, IsDB client countries will be able to apply for concessionary loans for education projects that are co-financed by the private sector, or other partners. Mali received the first loan: $31 million to finance a $144 million program aiming to get $600 thousand out-of-school children back into the classroom.