18 July 2016, New York – Intervention by European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum High Level Round Table on Ensuring that no-one is left behind: Unlocking the MoI for the SDGs and creating an enabling environment
The true test of the 2030 Agenda will lie in the real improvements that it brings about in peoples’ lives everywhere. Ultimately, it is at the local level that change needs to take root.
We must all start our work at home. The new Agenda – quite rightly – puts greater emphasis on the primacy of domestic action and governments’ own responsibility to mobilise and spend their resources effectively and efficiently. Without enabling policies, good governance, transparency and the rule of law, no change can take place.
The European Union is determined to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as its integral part, both internally and in cooperation with our partners, putting the emphasis on policy coherence for sustainable development.
The Addis and New York outcomes show us a clear way forward when it comes to Means of Implementation: we need to use all sources – public and private, domestic and international, financial and non-financial.
My ambition for a renewed EU development cooperation in response to the 2030 Agenda is to be smarter. Development resources are not infinite. We have to combine them so as to ensure maximum impact, and target them where they are most needed. We have to strengthen, deepen and diversify our partnerships with countries at all stages of development – but also go beyond governments, involving an increasingly diverse set of actors: from local authorities to civil society, from the private sector to the scientific community.
So what does this mean in practice?
First – it means a “smarter” use of our Official Development Assistance. It is clear that in reaching the poorest and most vulnerable, ODA will remain vital. The European Union and our Member States’ are determined to meet our ambitious commitments on ODA, including our specific target for Least Developed Counties. We will adapt our financing modalities and instruments to different country contexts, and target the most concessional resources to those countries with the least opportunity to raise finance elsewhere. In the poorest countries, we will continue to fund essential services, build capacity, and promote good governance, which meets the needs of its people, including through our budget support programmes.
Given the growing proportion of the extremely poor living in fragile and conflict-affected states, we will also develop more effective responses tailored to specific situations and needs. The addition of Trust Funds to our toolbox has helped the EU pool resources more effectively and accelerate delivery. In November we launched a new EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. With an initial contribution of EUR 1.8 billion, the Fund has already adopted actions worth more than EUR 900 million. These address resilience, good governance, job creation, migration management and the delivery of basic services in some of the parts of Africa most affected by instability and large refugee and migratory movements. We will continue to work coherently through development, humanitarian, political and security channels to build longer-term resilience.
At the same time, we need to work with governments to help them build and strengthen their own capacities to govern and to finance. This will be our second key area of focus. We will continue to develop our “Collect more – Spend better” approach to improve domestic revenue mobilisation and public expenditure management and tackle tax evasion, tax avoidance and illicit financial flows. We actively support the UN Tax Committee and the Addis Tax Initiative.
Third – we have to get the private sector fully on board. The European Union has already strong experience in blending, using ODA to leverage public lending and private investment for infrastructure which benefits the poorest. But we want to take this to the next level. This autumn, we aim to put in place an ambitious external investment plan, focusing on developing countries – building on the experience of our successful Investment Plan for Europe. At first stage, we will mobilise EUR 3.1 billion to this end, expected to trigger total investments of up to EUR 31 billion.
Let us not forget that many of the extremely poor live in Middle Income Countries. Also there we need to engage in pro-poor partnerships with governments, financing institutions and the private sector, deploying a varied range of means and mechanisms.
Coming to my fourth and last point, I wish to stress the importance of development effectiveness. We have to be smarter in our ways of working, to make the most out of each means of implementation. For the EU, closer coordination between the Union and our Member States when it comes to both planning and action can go a long way. Joint Programming will be one of our key areas of focus as we update our vision for EU development policy in the years ahead.
It is in this way, I believe, that the European Union can fully pull its weight as the worlds’ largest development actor, to contribute to the global efforts for realising the 2030 Agenda and to support our partner countries to achieve the own objectives, leaving no-one behind.
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