NEW DELHI :Developed countries can no longer afford to be cautious in providing financing for achieving sustainable development goals, the UN’s resident coordinator in India Shombi Sharp said in an interview. Sharp said the world faces a $4 trillion financing gap for the SDGs and called for greater political will to provide this funding. Sharp said India was uniquely placed between developed and developing countries, which allowed it to deliver a consensus at the G20. Edited excerpts:
How do you assess the outcome of the G20 summit, particularly on climate change and SDGs?
To achieve full consensus on the Delhi Declaration was something very impressive, given the incredibly divided world that we’re in right now. India is and has been truly uniquely positioned to deliver successful results in this particular moment in time. I’m not sure we could expect such a successful result from any other country. India is really unique in the sense that it is equally comfortable and has equally strong bridges of trust in the G7 world and in the world of the advanced economies. India has also for a long time been sort of a voice of the Global South and knows very well the challenges of developing countries. India really was able to get compromises from all directions. And that was a testament to its leadership.
Has the G20 gone far enough in making financing available?
A third of the countries right now are unable to mount responses because they’re buckling under the pressure of a financial crisis. Something like 730 million people in the world don’t have enough food to eat. If you look at the SDGs, only 12% of the targets are estimated to be more or less on track. About a third of the SDGs have either kind of come to a halt or are actually being pushed backwards. We estimate that the financing gap for the SDGs is about $4 trillion a year. This is hopefully a tipping point in understanding that, as the Secretary General has said, we need a Bretton Woods 2.0. We can no longer be sort of cautious.
Is there political will for providing funding for developing countries?
That is the question for sure. It’s not a question of money. Whether you say $2 trillion or $4 trillion a year, its not a lot when you look at the global economy, and you look at what we spend on waging war, on sports and entertainment. It’s a question of the political will to channel that money. We don’t even yet have the $100 billion in climate financing that was promised.
We live in a world where many poor countries are forced to cannibalize budgets for education and healthcare in order to pay their debt. And yet, they still have to borrow at rates many time more than high income countries do.
The consensus at the New Delhi G20 Summit has been criticized by some as a compromise on principle…
This result allows us to use the tools and mechanisms of the G20 to address the impacts on the poorest countries in the world in a much more effective and robust way. The member states have, I think, given us an important result that allows the international community and multilateral organizations to act in important ways. At the same time, the UN and the Secretary General continue to try and build the foundations for a ceasefire and a peace agreement.