Leaders must put aside 'narrow self-interest' to end poverty says Ban Ki-moon

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2015 11:01 AM

By Katy Migiro

ADDIS ABABA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - World leaders must put aside "narrow self-interest" to break a deadlock over how to finance the United Nation's bold new global development agenda, its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday at the opening of a financing conference in Ethiopia.

Some 190 nations hope to agree on how to bankroll 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include ending poverty and hunger, combating climate change and achieving gender equality by 2030.

"Let us put aside what divides us and overcome narrow self-interest in favor of working together for the common well-being of humanity," Ban told thousands of delegates gathered for the four day meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

In a world where growth is slowing, foreign assistance budgets are shrinking, and scepticism towards aid and multinationals is growing, finding the resources to achieve the ambitious goals will be tough.

The SDGs, expected to be adopted in September, are estimated to cost between $3.3 and $4.5 trillion a year, according to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development.

Multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as the International Monetary Fund on Friday signaled plans to extend more than $400 billion in financing over the next three years to help mobilize resources to achieve the SDGs.

"We need trillions, not billions, of dollars to accomplish these goals, and the money will come from many sources: developing countries, private sector investment, donors, and international financial institutions," Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group said in a statement.

"By working together, we can help people build better lives with good education, quality health care, clean water, and proper sanitation.

The U.N. chief said he was disappointed negotiators had been unable to come to an agreement despite lengthy talks in New York over the past month. He said new avenues of financing needed to be explored.

"In a world in which both the global population and resource constraints are growing, development finance needs a reboot," said Ban.

Many advocacy groups are nervous about the strong emphasis on the private sector in funding the SDGs, while acknowledging that aid money alone cannot foot the bill.

The main sticking point in Addis Ababa is a standoff over a push by the G77 developing countries to upgrade a U.N. tax body, which they hope would set new global rules to crackdown on tax dodging, mainly by multinationals.

The proposal is fiercely opposed by the rich countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which drew up the current tax rules.

The Secretary-General highlighted six areas where he hoped to see concrete policy commitments, including free social services for all, more aid for the poorest countries and new mechanisms for funding infrastructure and technology transfer.

(Reporting by Katy Migiro; Editing by Ros Russell)