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Purpose

“Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) are critical for promoting inclusive sustainable development within their territories, and as such for the implementation of the post- 2015 agenda.”

“Local strategic planning would allow a greater integration of the three pillars of development: social, economic and environmental. Likewise, further integration between urban and rural areas needs to be promoted, in order to foster greater territorial cohesion.”

Post-2015 Dialogues on Implementation (UNDG 2015)

Creating policy coherence, integration and partnerships in the vertical direction among governments, civil society, the private sector and other actors is the essential and complimentary aspect to the horizontality described in Section B4. ‘Glocalizing’ the agenda within a country is an imperative if the SDGs are to be realized with no one left behind in the 2030 timeframe. The word ‘glocal’ means reflecting both local and global considerations[1]. While examples of successful vertical coherence across national, sub-national and local governance scales around are not plentiful, the level of activity emanating from the local and sub-national levels towards achieving sustainable development, quality of life and wellbeing is abundant, in all corners of the globe (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2013c). And with this, we can be optimistic that mechanisms for creating vertical policy coherence and integration can indeed be realized.

Guidance

UNCTs can begin exploring with Member States the various mechanisms available for creating vertical policy coherence, integration and partnerships. The guidance provided in this section is five-fold, proposing the use of:

  • Institutional coordinating mechanisms: to foster partnerships and coordination across levels of government;
  • Multi-stakeholder consultative bodies and forums: to create partnership and coordination;
  • Local Agenda 21s and networks: for scaling up action for sustainable development at the local level;
  • Monitoring and review at the local level: as a means for localizing nationally-adapted SDGs;
  • Impact assessment processes: to ensure that nationally and locally-adapted SDGs are taken into consideration in large public and private development projects;
  • Integrated modelling: to explore the benefits and impacts of key national policies and programs at sub-national and local levels.

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MDG Lessons – Localization of MDGs: Factors for Success and the Case of Albania

Looking at the growing body of literature and case studies, four broad factors appear to be critical to the success of MDG localization efforts. These include:

  • Involvement of non-state actors;
  • Capacity at the local level;
  • Coordination across development policies and strategies, and coherence between different levels of government; and
  • Availability of financial resources.

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Albania: Strengthening Civil Society and Local Government Cooperation

A rapid shift from a central party system to a multi-party democracy in 1991 introduced new concepts to the national and local governments and citizens of Albania. There was no tradition of citizen engagement in planning processes, and the idea of government being accountable for the services it provides was new.

SNV and UNDP supported local governments and civil society in participatory planning processes in a project with three distinct phases: first, a needs assessment was done; second, a package of capacity development interventions. Among the lessons learned from the initiative were the following:

  • Partnerships for capacity development can only be successful if they put the client’s interest first – in this case, the local governments and CSOs in Albania. Furthermore, a thorough capacity assessment is crucial to develop a full understanding of the needs, and to ensure that any support that is provided is demand driven.
  • A key factor in the success of this project was the willingness of regional and municipal governments to enter into a constructive dialogue with CSOs to engage in more participatory planning processes. The government, however, did not know how to find the right entry points to consult with the people. The CSO networks could provide such entry points.
  • The project approach of working with and relying on local partners (CSOs and CSDCs) to bring in local knowledge and expertise proved very successful in understanding the capacity constraints and strengths of local non-state actors. The choice of civil society partners was crucial. Credibility in the eyes of local government was essential to gain their confidence in the process, which is a prerequisite for institutionalization of consultative mechanisms between civil society and local government. Furthermore, the approach of working with local organizations to support the capacity development of civil society builds confidence among local actors, and invests in the long-term sustainability of capacity development interventions.
  • In Albania, the long-term presence of SNV in Fier and Peshkopi contributed to the success of the programme. Local authorities and civil society had trust in SNV, which facilitated a good start and constructive collaboration with SNV and UNDP.

Source: SNV and UNDP (2009)

Institutional Coordinating Mechanisms

To promote vertical coherence and integration governments can create explicit institutional links between sustainable development strategies and supporting processes at the federal and sub-national levels.

In Austria for example, a common strategy framework was prepared in the form of the Federal-State Austrian Strategy for Sustainable Development (ÖSTRAT) with “the desire to combine the strengths of the state and federal levels in a common strategic and organizational framework (Austria 2015).” A number of vertical coordination mechanisms were put in place under this common framework, including: (i) an Expert Conference on Sustainability Coordinators; and (ii) Working Group on Distributed Sustainability Strategy (Local Agenda 21) which serves as a “platform of LA21 coordinators of the Länder and the federal government for the results-oriented implementation of the Joint Declaration on Local Agenda 21 in Austria (Austria 2015).”

In Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Office for Sustainable Development (ARE) leads an array of horizontal and vertical coherence, integration and partnership mechanisms (ESDN 2012). For more information see the Innovative Case Example below.

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Innovative Case Example: Swiss Vertical Coordination Across Federal, Canton and Municipal Levels

Accountability and implementation of Switzerland’s sustainable development strategy uses institutional mechanisms for creating both vertical and horizontal coherence, integration and partnerships:

  • The Federal Council has supreme political responsibility for Switzerland’s sustainability policy
  • The Federal Council givens the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) the task of coordinating the implementation of a sustainability strategy (controlling implementation as well as performing monitoring and evaluation tasks) at federal level and also in collaboration with cantons, municipalities and other stakeholders.
  • The Interdepartmental Sustainable Development Committee (ISDC) is headed by ARE. This committee furthers the Confederation’s sustainable development policy, and serves as a platform for sharing information on the Confederation’s numerous sustainability activities. Around 30 Swiss government agencies affiliated to ISDC perform tasks relevant to sustainable development.
  • In the Sustainable Development Forum, ARE works closely with cantons and municipalities and promotes sustainability processes at cantonal, regional and local level.

Source: ARE (2015d). See also, ESDN (2012)       

Multi-stakeholder Consultative Bodies and Fora

Multi-stakeholder bodies can be leveraged by governments to create vertical policy coherence across levels of governance. The European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) describes how consultative bodies have served as important vertical coordination mechanisms for sustainable development strategies and their implementation in Europe. It is noted that while consultative bodies “provide some platforms for coordination of policies between the political levels”, compared to the institutional mechanisms described above, “coordination is done more on a case-by-case or ad-hoc basis (either in a specific project of in a specific policy topic) (ESDN 2010).”  For guidance on applying multi-stakeholder approaches, including consultative bodies and forums, see Section B2.

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Innovative Case Example: City to City – South-South Cooperation

City-to-city South South Cooperation has emerged as an effective way to share knowledge and solutions and contribute to the localization of the sustainable development agenda. The ILO and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) have signed an agreement to promote bottom-up interventions responding to local needs to create decent jobs and boost local economic and social development. Recent activities have stimulated cooperation between Maputo (Mozambique), Durban (South Africa) and Belo Horizonte (Brazil) in the promotion of safe and health work environments in the informal economy.

Source: ILO (2013) City-to-City and South-South and Triangular Cooperation, Geneva

Local Agenda 21 Processes and Networks

A Local Agenda 21 is a concept for local sustainable development strategies born out of the 1992 Earth Summit. Through continued and increased support of Local Agenda 21 processes, national governments can realize a tremendous mechanism for creating vertical policy coherence.

Local Agenda 21s have achieved appreciable success in some countries over the past two decades.  The Republic of Korea was an early adopter and by the year 2000 close to 86% of regional government units had adopted a Local Agenda 21, fostered in part by the country’s National Action Plan of Agenda 21 through financial and capacity support and the establishment of the Korean Council for Local Agenda 21 made up of local government officers to better co-ordinate the implementation process (Swanson et al. 2004).

Today an even greater level of success can be witnessed in Spain’s Basque Country.  Udalsarea21 is a network of municipalities in Spain’s Basque country whose mission is to “promote the effective establishment of the Action Plans of the Local Agenda 21 and to integrate sustainability criteria in all the municipal management areas.” In 2000 the vast majority of municipalities had not initiated a local Agenda 21 plan of action; however, by 2010 through effective promotion and networking, 95% of municipalities had approved plans. Cited among the main reasons for the network’s success is “close coordination and alignment of Local Agenda 21 with supra-municipal policies” including the Basque Country’s EcoEuskadi Sustainable Development Strategy 2020 (Udalsarea21 2012).

Switzerland too has a vibrant Local Agenda 21 process (ESDN 2012) where 239 municipalities have sustainability processes ongoing, representing about 35% of the population (ARE 2015d).

Monitoring and Review at the Local Level

Monitoring and review processes are an important mechanism for countries to create vertical policy coherence, integration and partnerships across levels of government.

In the context of monitoring there exists a tremendous opportunity today for localizing The 2030 Agenda through integration with community indicator systems in cities around the world. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cites community indicators as “a vehicle for encouraging civic engagement both through the system’s development process and through action once the indicator system is in place (GAO 2011).” The GAO also noted that such systems “help address community or national challenges by facilitating collaboration of various parties inside and outside of government” and “provide solutions to long-term challenges.” Community indicator systems are created and implemented in myriad ways, including by local government, civil society organizations, or a partnership among both (IISD 2014).

For specific guidance related to monitoring, review and accountability, see Section B7 of this Guidance Note.

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Innovative Case Example: Community Indicator Systems

The U.S.-based Community Indicators Consortium (CIC), an international network of local government monitoring systems across North America “seeks bridges that span the gap between community indicators use and performance measurement, providing ways for community groups and governments to coordinate efforts and jointly enhance knowledge about the use of indicators to leverage positive change (CIC, 2015).”

In 2013 the CIC recognized the efforts of the Jacksonville Community Council Inc. in the U.S. state of Florida “as one of the most enduring and impactful institutions in community indicators work (CIC 2013).” Since their inception in 1985, JCCI has released 30 community quality-of-life reports to help inform and catalyze community action (JCCI 2015).

Among the CIC’s 2014 Impact Award Winners was ‘Peg’, the Canadian city of Winnipeg’s state-of-the-art community indicator information system, in recognition of its unique interactive visual explorer, maps utility and indicator stories (CIC 2014, Peg, 2015).

Impact Assessment Processes

Project level and cumulative impact assessment processes represent opportunities for governments to localize nationally tailored SDGs given their place-based scope of application.  

These assessments go by different names in different jurisdictions. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Regional Impact Assessment (RIA), Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) are but a few of the names and classes of impact assessment processes used by countries around the world to assess the future impacts of proposed public and private sector projects. Criteria used in these assessments could potentially be tailored to test their contribution to the long-term economic, social and environmental goals of national development plans and SDGs.

Integrated Modelling

Integrated modelling approaches of the type described in Section B4 for creating horizontal policy coherence, are also useful for achieving vertical coherence owing to their ability to explore regionally specific impacts of national strategies and policies.

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MDG Lessons – Integrating the MDGs into the local development context: Lao PDR

Under the UNDP and UNCDF supported Governance and Public Administration Reform (GPAR) and Service Delivery project – the UNCDF’s District Development Fund (DDF) initiative lays out one structure that facilitated the integration of the MDGs into local development. Building on the core elements of the GPAR programme, the proposed approach for delivering MDG-based services to districts included the following elements:

  • Building legitimacy and commitment through wide awareness in districts about the PM’s Orders on strengthening district administration, and plans, targets and tasks for each district to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
  • Developing capacity and carrying out field assessments as well as preparing local responses including dialogue with kumbans on validating baseline conditions related to MDGs, applying localized MDG planning tools and evidence based needs assessment and facilitating localized action plan preparations and resource allocation.
  • Establishing frameworks for providing and utilizing financial resources, which would cover the provision and use of untied capital grants for expanding MDG-related infrastructure, provision and use of operational expenditure block grants to support MDG service delivery, use of scholarships, pensions, safety nets and social protection mechanisms for vulnerable households and individuals, implementation of the computerized National Accounting System, which will enable central monitoring of expenditures on real time basis, transparency and disclosure with local stakeholders, as well as comparative assessment with peers (other districts) on financial performance.
  • Assigning tasks related to MDGs, and monitoring performance of district staff through clarification and revision of Job Descriptions, implementation of Performance Management and the use of Personnel Information Management System to support the above.
  • Establishing a One Door MDG Service Centre to enable individuals and Village Chiefs to receive information and advice on support available under the MDGs, receive applications and plans for support like pensions, grants and sector services, and make suggestions and complaints on delays and difficulties.
  • Disseminating information and creating linkages with external stakeholders including civil society, creating wide awareness and demand for services through community radio and access to information initiatives, forming village-level MDG Task Forces to address highly visible MDG issues, leveraging and delegating specific MDG-related tasks to CSOs depending on their strength, organizing progress reviews with kumban chiefs.

Source: UNDP and UNCDF, Lao PDR.

Toolkit

Institutional Mechanisms

  • Austrian Strategy for Sustainable Development (ÖSTRAT) (Austria 2015).
  • Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE 2015).
  • Linking Regions and Central Governments: Contracts for Regional Development (OECD 2007)

Multi-stakeholder Approaches

  • See Section B2 for tools on applying multi-stakeholder approaches
  • Benchmarking Workshops: A Tool For Localizing the Millennium Development Goals (UNDP and SIPA (2003).

Local Agenda 21 Networks

  • Udalsare21, Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability (Udalsarea21 2012).

Community Indicator System Examples

  • Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI 2015).
  • Peg Community Wellbeing Indicator System (PEG 2015).
  • Governing Regional Development Policy – The Use of Performance Indicators (OECD 2009)

Integrated Models

  • See Section B4.

References and Links

ARE (2015c). Accountabilities and implementation. The Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE). 

ARE (2015d). Facts and figures. The Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE).

Austria (2015). ÖSTRAT federal-state strategy. Government of Austria.

Bertlesmann Stiftung (2013c). Winning Strategies for a Sustainable Future. pp 30. Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung: Gutersloh.

ESDN (2010). National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe: Status quo and recent developments. ESDN Quarterly Report, September 2010. European Sustainable Development Network. 

GAO (2011). (2011). Experiences of other national and subnational systems offer insights for the United States. U.S. Government Accountability Office.

IISD (2014). GovernAbilities: The nexus of sustainability, accountability and adaptability – Essential tools for successful governance in the 21st century. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD): Winnipeg. 

ILO (2013) City-to-City and South-South and Triangular Cooperation, Geneva

JCCI (2015). Jacksonville Community Council Inc.

OECD (2007). Linking Regions and Central Governments: Contracts for Regional Development. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

OECD (2009). Governing Regional Development Policy: The Use of Performance Indicators. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Available at: 

SNV and UNDP (2009). Going Local to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals: Stories from Eight Countries. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and United Nations Development Programme. Available at:

Swanson, D.A., Pintér, L., Bregha, F., Volkery, A., and Jacob, K. (2004). National strategies for sustainable development: A 19-country study of challenges, approaches and innovations in strategic and coordinated action. IISD and GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit). Available at: 

Udalsarea21 (2012). Appraisal of a decade of Local Sustainability in the Basque Country 2000-2010. Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability.

UNDP and SIPA (2003). Benchmarking Workshops: A Tool For Localizing the Millennium Development Goals – A pilot project in Bulgaria and the Russian Federation. United Nations Development Program and the School for International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

[1] See Oxford Dictionaries at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/glocal

Related Blogs and Country stories

Silo Fighters Blog

Powering up data collection systems in Palestine

BY Subhra Bhattacharjee | July 11, 2018

In 2016 we prepared a Common Country Analysis (CCA) for Palestine. A CCA is UN speak for a detailed analysis of a country in preparation for a multi-year action plan of the UN. It identifies key development challenges and where the UN needs to focus its development investments. For our analysis this time, we decided to look at people. In hindsight it appears to be the obvious thing to do, but we were not the first to think of this. The Nepal UN Country Team did it before us. For our CCA we asked ourselves two questions: Who are the most vulnerable groups in Palestine? What are the structural drivers of their vulnerability? We thought if we could identify the most vulnerable groups and analyze the structural drivers of their chronic vulnerability, we will have a good sense of what it will take to ensure that our sustainable development investments leave no one behind. The first call for ideas brought out 61 proposed groups, each backed by passionate arguments as to why they are the most vulnerable. We merged some groups, reduced duplications, clarified categories, tinkered with definitions, and after extensive discussions, honed our focus to 20 vulnerable groups. This gave us a window to the factors that keep some groups in Palestine systematically at a disadvantage. Next, we did a deep-dive to understand why development was leaving some groups behind. For some groups, including out-of-school children and children in the labour market, the lack of adequate data makes it difficult for government to formulate specific policies and programmes for these groups. Alternative data collection methods for groups that are small compared to the population After a comprehensive exercise to account for the data, especially looking at Sustainable Development Goals indicators, we noted that relevant data on smaller groups couldn’t be collected only through existing surveys. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) uses representative samples for each geographical area of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and even though it produces high quality data consistent with international standards, there is a lack of up-to-date and periodic disaggregated data on several smaller groups. Take for example, the fishermen of Gaza. There are some 4,000 registered fishermen in Gaza, accounting for 0.2 percent of Gaza’s population of two million. If PCBS samples 1,000 people from Gaza for one of its quarterly labour force surveys, it will have at most two fishermen in its sample. We cannot draw any reliable conclusions about the socio-economic conditions of fishermen in Gaza from a sample of two people. And if PCBS included more fishermen in their sample, the percentage of fishermen in the sample will be larger than the percentage of fishermen in Gaza’s population. To create a large enough sub-sample for fisherfolk, PCBS will need to do a new level of sub-sampling by profession or sector on top of the two layers it is already subsampling. This would significantly increase its cost of surveys. Are you still tracking with us? Keep reading.   Flash surveys to the rescue So, for the smaller groups, we at the UN looked for an approach to gather data that would not cost too much, would not create too much additional work and most importantly, that is able to produce good quality data. The first thing we tried is a series of flash surveys – with small samples, and short questionnaires. These flash surveys had several benefits over the more traditional surveys with bigger samples and longer questionnaires: They allowed us to test our systems for collecting primary data and iterate quickly and cheaply if necessary to work out the flaws in the system. They enabled our enumerators to get hands-on training at a relatively low cost to us. They are also particularly suitable for understanding the smaller groups that don’t get adequately represented in the bigger surveys. We chose four vulnerable groups: adolescent girls, children in labour, the elderly and persons with disabilities as pilot cases. UNFPA took the lead in this. They engaged the Sharek Youth Forum, a non-profit, and one of UNFPA’s implementing partners to conduct the surveys. OHCHR, FAO, UNRWA, helped with the quality control. 37 university students (28 from the West Bank and 9 from Gaza) were recruited from Sharek’s network and trained as enumerators by an expert. The survey questionnaires in Arabic were uploaded on KoBoToolbox, a free and open source suite of tools for collecting data. Many of the young enumerators owned smartphones so they downloaded the app on their phones and entered the data for each person they surveyed into their smartphones. Sharek provided the others with tablets. A village, a town and a refugee camp were selected in each governorate. Sharek’s enumerators visited schools to survey adolescent girls, reached out to the elderly in their local communities, and found persons with disabilities through support groups. ILO provided information on the areas with high concentration of child labour. The enumerators collected the data over a period of two weeks, and, in some cases, they used paper forms to collect the data and documented problems as they arose. The enumerators collected data on a small number of key demographic variables for each group. For the data on the four groups produced by Viz for Social Good, click here, here, here, and here. Before even looking at the data, we noted a few things. First, we now have 37 trained enumerators who can be deployed again at short notice to conduct other flash surveys. The investment in training and the hands-on experience they got has started the process of creating systems to collect data on vulnerable groups. Second, we need to finesse our sample selection if we want to use the surveys to provide baseline indicators and monitor progress. Third, we need to think through how to combine the data from smartphones and paper surveys. Fourth, we need to figure out how to identify our target groups based on more rigorous definitions. For instance, not all work done by children should be classified as child labour. According to ILO, child labour refers to work that “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”. Fifth, flash surveys need more quality control if they are to serve the same purpose as traditional surveys. This is because with smaller samples of flash surveys, the choice of location will need extra attention to ensure that the sample is indeed representative. This year, we will work through these wrinkles. Engaging people in their own data analysis In data circles, we often hear the idea of engaging communities to collect and use their own data. But the instances of it being done in a meaningful, low cost, sustainable way to generate usable data are few and far between. Could we pull it off? We decided to experiment with combining data collection and empowerment for one of the most vulnerable groups in the oPt, namely, Area C communities. Area C accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank. It has some of the most fertile agricultural land and almost the entirety of Palestine’s natural resources. An estimated 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C and a greater number depend on its resources for their livelihoods. Area C is controlled by the Israeli military,  which has exclusive control over land, planning and construction. Significant portions of Area C land are allocated for Israeli settlements and declared as Israeli state land. Only about 30 percent of Area C is available for Palestinian construction, but so far Palestinians have been issued permits to build on less than one percent of the land. Since construction permits in Area C are closely tied to Israeli spatial plans, spatial plans driven by Palestinian communities have been used in recent times to empower communities, and to rally the Israeli Civil Administration to issue permits to Palestinians for construction. In addition to Israeli military orders, land ownership in Area C is governed by a complex legal framework resulting in insecurity of land tenure and confusion about ownership and user rights of private land. Consequently, land registration has been a long-time priority of local and international development actors in the oPt. As the next activity of our project, we integrated a community-driven process to map land ownership and user rights. UN-Habitat took the lead in developing a system called the Social Tenure Domain Model. This participatory tool is a pro-poor, gender responsive system based on free and open source software, which means that all the data collected and stored is available to the communities and owned by the users. The system is based on information and evidence shared by local communities making them a part of the decision-making process. The system records and analyzes the social tenure relationship of people and land, and the social services/amenities that available to the inhabitants of a location. It fits the oPt’s highly complex tenure system, because it supports a continuum of land rights ranging from formal to informal. An Arabic interface was created for the system so it can easily be deployed in other Arabic-speaking countries. UN-Habitat also provided training for the Palestinian Land and Water Settlement Commission staff. This system for community mapping of land rights with a special focus on women and youth will help us empower the community, build social cohesion, and generate data on land rights. The resulting database will serve as a shadow land register, support land valuation, raise awareness about land governance in Area C, and inform advocacy efforts to defend land rights of Palestinian communities. These efforts are supported by the ‘Road Map for Reforming Palestinian Land Sector’ of 2017. Right now, the background work is still ongoing. The model will be piloted in 2019. Will this actually work? We don’t know. For now, we know that we now have the systems in place to replicate or update the data collection of smaller groups through flash surveys, we can engage communities participate in collecting and analysing their own data and integrate a community-driven process to identify land ownership and user rights, at a lower cost than in the first run. And we will use whatever we learn from these initiatives to finesse our methods in our next set of data collection initiatives in 2018.

Silo Fighters Blog

Making money move: New financing to achieve the SDGs

BY Richard Bailey | July 3, 2018

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Regardless of where you grew up, we all learn about the importance of securing every penny, rand, real, euro, yen, ruble, or rupee. And the saying is particularly relevant today since development organizations like the United Nations (UN) must mobilize more than US$3.0 trillion every year if we hope to achieve the ambitious goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Official development assistance (ODA) is still an important finance mechanism but only $140 billion are secured each year. If we, the UN, intend to accelerate progress so no one is left behind, ODA needs to be used more strategically, and other sources of finance must be secured. There also needs to be an organizational shift from strictly funding programmes and initiatives to an approach that involves “funding and financing” to tap into international, national, private and public financial flows. Perspective shift: from funding to financing A growing number of blended finance sources have helped advance development aims in recent years.[1] Private sector guarantees, syndicated loans, and shares in collective investment vehicles mobilized $36.4 billion,[2] while socially responsible investing exceeded $6 trillion between 2012 and 2014. Impact investors and development finance institutions created a new investing asset class that is projected to grow to $400 billion by 2025. When it comes to financing, the rules are changing, and the UN is looking at new ways of aligning financial flows and attracting new investors. UN Country Teams (UNCTs) in Kenya, Indonesia and Armenia explored ways of helping national governments and local partners secure broad, non-traditional funds for development purposes. They mapped out challenges, unlocked new types of financing and used resources in a timely and innovative manner. The three most successful tools adopted were impact investing, Islamic financing, and sector-specific fund modalities. Impact investing in Armenia In the last few years, Armenia has turned into a thriving tech start-up hub and financing initiatives have followed two major trends: venture philanthropy and impact investing. To capitalize on these new forms of funding, the UNCT set up a country platform for SDG implementation that is aligned with national reform and SDG efforts. The collaborative space allows the UN, development partners and civil society to strengthen relationships and develop new ones with international financial institutions, donors and philanthropists. Other innovations: SDG Innovation Lab, the Kolba Social Innovation Lab, ImpactAim Venture Accelerator. Islamic financing in Indonesia Home to the world’s largest Muslim population and the tenth largest economy, the Government of Indonesia recently turned to inclusive and ‘green’ financing to accelerate the SDGs. The UNCT saw the potential and embraced new forms of finance to support sustainable development initiatives. Good practices include employing blended finance instruments and Islamic financing (Baznas).[3] In 2017, UNDP channelled zakat (charitable funds) for a micro-hydro energy project to improve access to water, renewable energy and livelihoods in some of the most remote parts of Indonesia. Other innovations: Financing Lab, “Bring Water for Life” and #TimeforTigers crowdfunding campaigns. Primary health care financing in Kenya One million people in Kenya fall into poverty every year because of a fractured health care system,[4] which is why the national government prioritized rolling out Universal Health Care in the “Big 4 Action Plan.” The UNCT supports the government by working with private sector partners on the Private Sector Health Partnership Kenya initiative and SDG Philanthropy Platform. Bringing together the private and public sectors together has opened doors to new cross-sectoral opportunities in the health, tech, early childhood development, nutrition, and technical and vocational training sectors. Make it rain: harnessing the potential of innovative financing The cost of solving the world’s most critical problems currently runs into the trillions, forcing development financing into a new era. There are no other options if traditional development aid no longer makes the grade. The UN has to pivot and embrace the changes taking place or risk becoming redundant and irrelevant. Luckily there are many opportunities to seize, and the UN has plenty of comparative advantages to bring to the table. The organization has a long, successful history of bringing together partners, training and recruiting experts, scaling up projects, and imparting technical knowledge. UN staff are skilled in advising, brokering knowledge, innovating, analysing data, and measuring impact. As we have seen in Kenya, Armenia and Indonesia, capital can be mobilized through impact investing, attracting early investors, or securing funds for larger investments in sectors identified by the central government. Embracing the latest tech innovations (e.g. e-health or mobile diagnostics) can turn unattractive investment areas into “bankable propositions.” Perhaps the most important takeaway is to not “let perfection be the enemy of the good.” Change may take time but UNCTs can’t wait for everything to be in place before embarking on new initiatives or adopting innovative types of financing. Steps to secure the right kind of capital have to be taken because time is running and “business as usual” no longer works—the numbers tell the whole story. Societal progress involves taking calculated risks, and achieving the SDGs is no exception. Unlocking new sources of funding is one way the UN can make sustainable gains and help governments make returns on the 2030 Agenda. ---- [1] Discussed in detail in “Financing the UN Development System. Pathways to Reposition for Agenda 2030” (September 2017), Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in collaboration with the MPTF Office, http://www.daghammarskjold.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Financing-Report-2017_Interactive.pdf. [2] Amounts Mobilised from the Private Sector by Official Development Finance Interventions: Guarantees, syndicated loans and shares in collective investment vehicles’, OECD working paper, 2016. [3] Baznas was established by the government based on Presidential Decree 8/2011. The agency is responsible for collecting and distributing zakat at the national level. [4] Thomson Reuters Foundation, February 2018, http://news.trust.org/item/20180209112650-s1njv/.