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ICSDF Briefs Stakeholders, Hears Civil Society Proposals

United Nations5 December 2013: The UN Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Sustainable Development Financing (ICSDF) held an interactive multi-stakeholder dialogue as part of its second session, which took place from 2-6 December 2013, in New York, US.

In a briefing on the work of the Committee, Co-Chair Pertti Majanen (Finland) reported on the Committee's work. He noted that in its second session, the Committee had begun to address substantive issues. On cluster one, he said intersessional work is underway, and cluster two was up for discussion in the second session, particularly with regard to mobilizing funds. On interaction with the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said a joint meeting in early March is being planned. He also reported that the committee has decided to continue holding its sessions in a closed format.

On cluster three, the committee will need to assess the expertise available from its members, stakeholders and other sources, and keep its work in harmony with clusters one and two, according to its co-facilitator. Background papers from the Secretariat are informing the work of each cluster.

On communication with stakeholders, Finland said the Committee is strongly committed to dialogue. The Secretariat is working on principles for engagement, and the Co-Chairs will send invitations to stakeholders for concrete input. He highlighted outreach activities being planned by the regional economic commissions, including in Latin America in mid-January 2014, in Africa in the spring, and in Finland in April with a focus on private sector involvement. He also noted the steering committee that stakeholders have established, which selects the co-chairs for multi-stakeholder dialogues.

Responding to the briefing, Aldo Caliari, Finance and Trade Cluster of civil society organizations, asked the Committee to reconsider its decision to continue holding closed sessions. He cited the Financing for Development (FFD) and OWG processes as successful examples in providing multi-stakeholder access to discussions. Co-Chair Mansur Muhtar (Nigeria) said this issue was debated exhaustively the previous day, with acknowledgement of extensive outreach as critical to the Committee's success. However, there was also a “clear understanding of the nature of the Committee” and unanimous agreement that for efficiency and effectiveness, open sessions are not the best way to secure input. A formal letter will follow, Muhtar said.

Participating in a panel discussion, Caliari highlighted: the need for financial regulation in order to shift “from finance-driven development to sustainable development driven finance;” a proposal for an independent, public mechanism to address debt; and the possibility that public-private partnerships can hide fiscal risks through tax incentives, inter alia.

Bhumika Muchhala, Finance and Development Programme, Third World Network (TWN) and Women's Major Group, and Barbara Samuels II, Executive Director & Founder, Global Clearinghouse for Development Finance; Vice Chair of the UN Business Steering Committee on Financing for Development, also made comments from the panel.

In interventions from the floor, representatives of the Women's Major Group, Workers and Trade Unions Major Group, Business and Industry Major Group, and others raised: the need for developing country policy space; the need for public funding to eliminate gender inequalities; a warning on the repackaging of aid as climate finance; the need to tackle tax evasion and avoidance, as a precondition for a financial framework for sustainable development; the need for fiscal policy to be built on all three dimensions of sustainable development; the importance of job creation; transparency as the cornerstone of accountability, and the importance of data; and the potential to learn from the UNFCCC processes on adaptation and mitigation. [ICSDF Website] [Webcast of Meeting]