Speeches & Transcripts

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Addressing Climate Change

November 12, 2015

Mahmoud Mohieldin Corporate Secretary and President's Special Envoy The Independent Commission on Multilateralism, New York, United States

As Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for your kind introduction. I’m honored to be part of this distinguished panel and to have the opportunity to speak to you today.

As we transition to the next era of global development, and consider where the world stands today, we must acknowledge that things will need to be done differently than they were 15 years ago. Partnerships will be critical for meeting the 2030 Development Agenda. The world is in a much different place now and no one institution can tackle the global challenges of today. Everybody has a role to play – governments, CSOs, the private sector, international institutions – and their ability to work in harmony will define whether we will be able to address some of the most pressing development challenges.

The CEB MDG acceleration exercise is an excellent example of how the international community can and should come together to maximize their capacity to address development challenges. At the November 2012 meeting of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), World Bank Group President Jim Yong KIM proposed that progress towards the MDGs be reviewed, and the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) be used to bring problematic issues/challenges to the heads of agencies level, thereby focusing their attention on some key countries that are lagging behind, in order to help achieve results on the ground.

The CEB review helped generate an additional impetus for implementation and helped galvanize partnerships and brings together the broadest possible spectrum of agencies.

With many challenges posing a threat to development gains and having global impact, the international community should target its interventions to directly addressing the most pervasive threats. This applies to issues such as climate change, pandemics, natural disasters, and conflict. Let me take one, for example – of conflict. Development progress is intrinsically linked to peace and stability. In the Middle East, conflict and fragility in a few states has created a major refugee crisis, exacerbated conflict, fosters terrorism, and reverses development gains in the most affected areas. Development of those regions needs to be prioritized, and addressed in a way which is intrinsically linked to targeting peace and stability. And every institution, organization, government, and individual who is involved in trying to mitigate the impact of the conflict must work in partnership. The World Bank has adopted a new strategy for the Middle East which relies heavily on regional partnerships, deepening partnerships with regional partners and non-state actors, focusing on an approach which is cross-sectoral, and addresses issues such as infrastructure, water, governance, and energy, and using innovative financing mechanisms to crowd in additional resources.

Without addressing some of the underlying causes of conflict, such as inequality of opportunity, a growing displacement issue, droughts and degradation of natural resources, low trust in the state, and non-inclusive institutions, amongst many others, development efforts will be futile.

An important catalyst for sustainable development is science and technology.

The 2030 agenda is universal and holistic than its predecessor. There are multiple references to the importance of science and technology for sustainable development.

Goal 7 serves as a prime example of how critical science and technology are for the sustainability component of the 2030 agenda. Goal 7 focuses on access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Of its five targets, three focus entirely on science and technology:

  • Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism
  • Promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favorable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed
  • Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology

An important aspect of the science and technology component of sustainable development is how integral partnerships are to its application. Our global ambitious sustainable development goals cannot be met without partnerships at all levels.

Another issue critical for sustainable development that I would like to highlight is data. The SDG agenda is broad and there is a pressing need for improved data to both monitor progress and help design the policies and programs that will be needed if the targets are to be met. Poverty-fighting efforts have long been constrained by a lack of data in many countries. The World Bank has identified 29 countries that had no poverty data from 2002 to 2011.  Another 28 had just one survey that collected poverty data during that time.  These gaps prevented analysts from identifying trends in how countries were making progress toward their goals, and posed a barrier to improving the lives of poor people. Traditional data sources will be very important, but we must also take advantage of new opportunities, especially those presented by the use of technology. This “Data Revolution” means working in different ways, putting different groups together across the public and private sectors, and being innovative in leveraging technology for development data. With new sources of technology available, a decline in the cost of data collection, and a strong push for open data, which allows for more inclusion and participation by all, a data revolution is being supported by public and private sector, civil society and international organizations.

The WBG is an anchor partner of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data that was launched in September. This is bringing a wide range of stakeholders together, including technology companies, governments, UN agencies, private foundations, and civil society. The WBG is working with the Global Partnership to launch a $100m trust fund to support both innovations in technology and innovations in how we work to trigger lasting changes in data production, accessibility, and use.

An interesting example, which addresses how science and technology leveraged for data can be used to address goal 9 is in the Open Geospatial Data for Energy Access Survey, for instance, which was launched recently by the World Bank Group in collaboration with the European Space Agency to identify geospatial data needs in the energy access field.

There are many interesting examples of innovative uses of technology to support data:

In Tanzania, an innovative poverty mapping tool using GIS data has been developed. This will improve geographical identification of the poorest villages, which are beneficiaries of the country’s social protection scheme. A full and rigorous impact evaluation has also been launched in the country to provide additional information on targeting and program results.

In Ghana, the World Bank, in collaboration with the UN and other partners, is supporting the Government to operationalize an Integrated eHealth System to focus on developing foundational systems and outreach to underserved communities in the country including a situational analysis and strategic plan for eHealth; medical call centers; wireless networks for selected district and regional health centers; and digitizing medical records in selected teaching hospitals and health centers.

In Indonesia, UNAIDS and partners are working with civil society and the private sector on the development of ‘iMonitor’ – mobile phone technology that enables people living with HIV, and vulnerable groups, to share information about access to HIV prevention and treatment and the quality of those services. It also allows users to report stock-outs of antiretroviral medicine and other HIV commodities, as well as rights violations in HIV service delivery and other settings. This technology innovation is also being implemented and developed in a number of other countries.

In order to support implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda, resources will need to be mobilized and directed toward development at an unprecedented scale. Such mobilization will require innovative mechanisms in order to ensure that finance is used effectively and efficiently. Innovative mechanisms will also be critical for maximizing the impact of every dollar available. We need to leverage the “billions” of grant and ODA funds to mobilize the “trillions” needed. The primary sources of finance are domestic public resources, the private sector, and Official Development Assistance. Countries with various financing capacities and levels of development rely on different combinations of financing to fund their development.

What applies to most countries, however, is the importance of trying to mobilize domestic resources as effectively as possible, manage public expenditure, and maximize the impact of ODA funds available by finding ways to use it to crowd-in the private sector. This is especially the case in sectors such as infrastructure. Leveraging private sector resources, domestic as well as foreign, through various mechanisms that reduce the risks to and operational cost for the private sector to investments in programs and projects will be critical for attainment of the SDGs.

Another critical area is in financing global public goods (or bads), such as pandemics. An example of this is the Pandemic Emergency Facility. The World Bank Group is working with a number of governments, donors, private investors and other development partners to develop a Pandemic Emergency Facility, or PEF—a tool providing new ways to finance the response to pandemics in developing countries. PEF is a platform that would focus on financing containment of the outbreak and preventing the human and financial costs from escalating.

The PEF is expected to cover the financing of a range of pandemic response activities, such as a mass deployment plan (end-to-end deployment), including rapid deployment of trained and ready health professionals; purchase and delivery of supply chain of medicines and supplies; information systems to quantify and track incidence; and effective service delivery and management.

Another example is the Global Financing Facility for Every Woman Every Child, which will mobilize and channel additional international and domestic resources required to scale up and sustain efficient and equitable delivery of quality Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) services. It will also support the transition to long-term sustainable domestic financing.

A special focus area will be to support the scale-up of civil registration and vital statistics systems. The facility will facilitate a clear strategy for RMNCAH services in different countries, which will be a fully-costed national plan linked to national strategies for health and other sectors. It will build on the existing Health Results Innovation Trust Fund of the WBG that offers leverage of IDA and IBRD resources.

It is estimated that an accelerated investment scenario would help prevent a total of 4 million maternal deaths, 107 million child deaths, and 22 million stillbirths between 2015 and 2030 in 74 high-burden countries.

These types of innovative financing mechanisms will be critical to help the international system’s response to global or regional issues be as efficient and effective as possible and minimize the negative impact, or maximize benefit to all.

Everyone has a role to play in implementing the 2030 agenda. The SDGs are global, yet the challenges to achieving them are country specific, and the WBG’s country-level engagements, which are the core of our operational model, will be the primary means through which we will support the 2030 Agenda.

Governments are ultimately responsible for their own development. Government ownership over development progress also ensures that efforts will be targeted toward ensuring desired outcomes with the support of policies and institutions.

Our country-based approach—WBG country programs are based on a diagnostic of the country-specific development challenges, the country’s own development priorities (including the particular challenges it faces in realizing the SDGs), and the WBG’s comparative advantage—and our lasting and continuous relationship with our clients as a reliable and trusted partner, will allow for customized country-specific solutions aligned with national priorities. And as the SDG indicators are finalized and data become increasingly available, progress and gaps in meeting the SDGs will directly inform our diagnostics of country-specific development challenges and feed into country programs and implementation plans.

One of the most important lessons learned from the experience with the MDGs is that no one institution, organization, government, company can tackle the global development challenges alone. Impact is maximized when everyone works in partnership, and rely on each other’s comparative advantage in order to maximize impact.