193 delegations to FFD3 conference agree on the Addis Abeba Action Agenda

16 Jul

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

At its final negotiating hours on Wednesday evening, the most important achievement of the three-day Addis Abeba conference on financing for development (FFD3), before its closing Thursday, is hardly its ability to secure the real bricks and mortars every nation needs for its sustainable development and the sustainable development agenda of the next decade and a half. Rather it is the fact that the much-constrained conference for much of its life from New York to Addis Abeba has been now saved with the adoption of the Addis Abeba Action Agenda (AAAA).

AAAA is sort of a laundry list, containing “100 concrete measures”, according to the FFD3 Secretariat. The 39-page outcome document, i.e., Addis Abeba Action Agenda, can be accessed here. For summaries click on: Round Table 1; Round Table 2; Round Table 3.

Details and interpretations of the agreement by different delegations have yet to fleet. The United Nations is happy since what it wanted all along is a consensus document. It is the basis for the sustainable agenda summit in September and also the General Assembly at its 70th session.

A relieved UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon already observed:

“This agreement is a critical step forward in building a sustainable future for all. It provides a global framework for financing sustainable development.” He added, “The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind.”

The Addis Abeba Action Agenda would now become the new bible, as the bedrock of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the new international development agenda; it would be quoted every now and then at the General Assembly in September ad infinitum, praised as a marvelous construct, even when in real terms it may show little in real terms.

Probably with a better informed insight Wu Hongbo, the Secretary-General of the Conference, is reported to have remarked during the adoption of the AAAA:

“This historic agreement marks a turning point in international cooperation that will result in the necessary investments for the new and transformative sustainable development agenda that will improve the lives of people everywhere.”

What this means is that domestic resource mobilization is central to the agenda, according to FFD3 Secretariat. In the outcome document, it is reported, countries agreed to an array of measures aimed at widening the revenue base, improving tax collection, and combatting tax evasion and illicit financial flows. Countries also reaffirmed their commitment to official development assistance, particularly for the least developed countries, and pledged to increase South-South cooperation.

The hooray now possibly comes with recognition of increased chances of private sector involvement in national development activities.

In the case of Ethiopia, the man in the prime minister’s office has already made it clear at the conference a day ago that Ethiopia would not open up its financial sector to any form of foreign investment.

Notwithstanding that, however, the idea about the importance of aligning private investment with sustainable development has been clearly stated in the outcome document and has also received a political boost right there at the conference in Addis Abeba.

Better known for its conservatism, The Economist was eagle-eyed on this. In its April 8, 2015 edition, it acknowledged its support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the words, “We believe that while fine-tuning can be done, it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The SDGs are worthy of support.” To develop the 17 sustainable goals and 169 targets, it recalled, “Businesses with assets of tens of trillions of dollars have been consulted.”

The ageed upon Addis Abeba Action Agenda:

It is agreed that each nation is responsible for its sustainable development strategies and accordingly participants at the Addis Abeba conference have agreed to the following new initiatives:

Technology

Countries agreed to establish a Technology Facilitation Mechanism at the Sustainable Development Summit in September to boost collaboration among governments, civil society, private sector, the scientific community, United Nations entities and other stakeholders to support the sustainable development goals.

Infrastructure

Countries agreed to establish a Global Infrastructure Forum to identify and address infrastructure gaps, highlight opportunities for investment and cooperation, and work to ensure that projects are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Social protection

Countries adopted a new social compact in favour of the poor and vulnerable groups, through the provision of social protection systems and measures for all, including social protection floors.

Health

Countries agreed to consider taxing harmful substances to deter consumption and to increase domestic resources. They agreed that taxes on tobacco reduce consumption and could represent an untapped revenue stream for many countries.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises

Countries committed to promote affordable and stable access to credit for smaller enterprises. They also pledged to develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the International Labour Organization Global Jobs Pact by 2020.

Foreign aid

Countries recommitted to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance, and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent for least developed countries.

A package of measures for the poorest countries

Developed countries commit to reverse the decline in aid to the poorest countries, with the European Union committing to increase its aid to least developed countries to 0.2 per cent of gross national income by 2030. They also agree to adopt or strengthen least developed countries investment promotion regimes, including with financial and technical support. Governments also aim to operationalize the technology bank for this group of countries by 2017.

Taxation

The Agenda calls for strengthening support for the work of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to improve its effectiveness and operational capacity, and the engagement with the Economic and Social Council. It emphasizes the importance of inclusive cooperation and dialogue among national tax authorities.

Climate Change

The Action Agenda calls on developed countries to implement their commitment to a goal of jointly mobilizing USD100 billion per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources to address the needs of developing countries. Countries also committed to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that lead to wasteful consumption.

Related article;

The Addis Abeba conference on financing for development may go distances in donors increasingly officializing linkage between their development & security  interests

*Updated.

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