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OFID conference reviews aims and challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals
Vienna, Austria, February 20, 2015. The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) hosted a high-level conference at its headquarters in Vienna, entitled “The post–2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” The conference brought together Austrian–based development partners to assess the latest developments, share views and explore ways of cooperating for the success of a major transformative drive in international development cooperation.
Guests included representatives from Austrian government and international organizations based in Vienna, such as: the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; the International Atomic Energy Agency; The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization; Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and OPEC. Development partners from Standard Chartered Bank, as well as permanent representatives and ambassadors of OFID Member and Partner Countries and OECD countries also attended.
Opening the conference, OFID’s Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish welcomed the launch of the SDGs, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once they expire at the end of this year. “The SDGs will usher in a new understanding of universal development,” said Al-Herbish, “and hopefully new cooperation agreements that include the eradication of poverty—the absolute enemy of human development.”
The keynote speaker was Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Corporate Secretary and President’s Special Envoy. He is a specialist on the MDGs, the Post-2015 process, and financial development, with unparalleled knowledge of the current development paradigm and the constraints endured by developing countries.
Mohieldin presented an update and appraisal of the current post–2015 agenda, raising a number of important issues regarding the new framework. The SDGs would be more ambitious than the MDGs, covering a broader range of interconnected issues, he said. “For effective implementation one needs: effective institutions, effective policies, financing and to recognize the inter-relationship between the SDGs.”
Mohieldin also called for a World Forum on Development Data and support for innovative approaches to data collection with collaboration between public and private sectors. He stated: “More and better data is needed for the development agenda through 2030,” and urged development partners to prepare themselves for a “data revolution.”
The SDGs were first formally discussed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20) and it is expected that they will be adopted by UN Member States at a Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015. Development partners attending today’s conference at OFID reaffirmed their commitment to effective implementation of the SDGs and the eradication of extreme poverty in the next generation. Mr Al-Herbish stated: “For all of us in the development arena, the time for advocacy and consensus-building is closing and the time for decisions is fast approaching.”
Since the MDGs were established in 2000, OFID has used them to define its activities and focus operations. In addition, the organization introduced its Energy Poverty Initiative in 2008—dubbing Universal Energy Access the “Missing 9th MDG.” OFID has played a leading role in the SE4ALL Initiative and in helping shape the new SDGs with the eradication of energy poverty as SDG7.
Speaking today, Al-Herbish commented: “OFID has always maintained that energy is central to poverty eradication, and economic and social growth: we are pleased to see that it is now central to the SDGs.”
OFID is the development finance institution established by the Member States of OPEC in 1976 as a collective channel of aid to the developing countries. OFID works in cooperation with developing country partners and the international donor community to stimulate economic growth and alleviate poverty in all disadvantaged regions of the world. It does this by providing financing to build essential infrastructure, strengthen social services delivery and promote productivity, competitiveness and trade. OFID’s work is people-centered, focusing on projects that meet basic needs - such as food, energy, clean water and sanitation, healthcare and education – with the aim of encouraging self-reliance and inspiring hope for the future.
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