- Standing strong for the SDGs
Standing strong for the SDGs
OPEC Fund promises action as delegation attends UN Summit on Sustainable Development Goals delivery at half-time
The assessment was bleak and the warnings were dire. When the world came together in New York in mid-September to take stock of the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the message was loud and clear: “Only 15 percent of the targets are on track,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “Many are going in reverse. Instead of leaving no one behind, we risk leaving the SDGs behind.”
In response, the leaders of over 100 countries adopted a political declaration highlighting their collective commitment to build a sustainable, inclusive and prosperous world by 2030. With a focus on implementation, and in particular, on financing for development, the declaration states that the SDGs will not be met without a quantum leap across the board in just and equitable investments.
Additionally, the declaration urges immediate action to deliver the SDG Stimulus proposed by the UN Secretary-General, which calls for a massive increase in financing of US$500 billion each year. Countries agreed to present national commitments to SDG Transformation that include priority transitions and areas for investment, setting national benchmarks for reducing poverty and inequalities by 2027 and strengthening institutional frameworks to support progress.
The summit expressed strong support for a reform of the international financial architecture to better reflect today’s global economy and address the needs of the countries at an earlier stage of development. Countries with sufficient capacity are expected to make individual pledges to push the SDGs combined with broader means of support such as fulfilling ODA commitments, suspending debt payments and agreeing on innovative finance mechanisms.
Addressing the needs of the Least Developed Countries and supporting progress of partner countries across the world also sits atop of the OPEC Fund’s agenda. “The international community must act decisively and urgently to support the countries that are most exposed to climate change, food insecurity, economic imbalances and other destabilizing factors,” said Director-General Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, who was accompanied to New York by Senior Director Strategic Planning & Economic Services Shaimaa Al-Sheiby.
Speaking at a roundtable of heads of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) on the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Director-General set out his vision on the Loss and Damage Fund agreed at last year’s UN climate change conference COP27 in Egypt. The discussion now centers on how to jump-start the agreement and make the fund operational. The OPEC Fund head urged that “a starting point should be to devise a standard framework for tracking climate-related loss and damage.”
Based on this, an analysis of available budgetary and non-budgetary financial resources for eligible countries would be required to estimate the funding gap. With that in mind, the OPEC Fund Director-General proposed a “uniform and transparent fund allocation.”
Considering the enormous amounts needed he added: “Three sources of finance are available and need to be tapped: sovereign funds, private capital and grants. While sovereign funds are essential to kick-start the process, private capital engagement is imperative. Therefore adequate de-risking provisions should be made available.”
Progress on the Loss and Damage Fund is universally seen as a, if not the, key deliverable at COP28 in December in the OPEC Fund member country the United Arab Emirates. The COP Presidency launched the first Global Stocktake in 2023, the results of which were presented by the UNFCCC in early September.
The OPEC Fund will participate in COP28 and use its presence to launch a series of initiatives and activities aimed at bridging the gap between energy access and climate action — because both are necessary for sustainable development. The UN Summit in New York provided the perfect opportunity to meet delegations from all over the world to prepare the climate change conference in Abu Dhabi.
The OPEC Fund delegation also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation to strengthen collaboration. “The OPEC Fund is an institution based on the principles of South-South cooperation,” said the Director-General.
Three key takeaways were:
- Despite some progress, much more action is now needed on all fronts.
- Governments must support systems transformations that mainstream climate resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- To raise climate action ambitions, the international community must focus on inclusion and equity.