The 2023 Development Cooperation Forum concluded at the United Nations headquarters in New York with an urgent call from Member States, international organizations, and civil society to scale up development cooperation for the world’s most vulnerable people. Over 1.2 billion people are living in countries vulnerable or severely exposed to food, energy, and financial shocks, according to UN estimates.
Innovative and bold recommendations and solutions were proposed for supporting countries and groups facing ongoing challenges posed by an uneven COVID-19 pandemic recovery, the cost-of-living crisis, and the complex consequences of climate change.
“At a time when we need development progress more than ever, the Sustainable Development Goals are issuing an S.O.S.,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. “Our collective response must involve a major transformation in development cooperation. This transformation should better protect the most vulnerable, especially during crises. It should invest in people. And it should ensure that development cooperation addresses not just urgent needs today but also the needs of tomorrow.”
Under the theme “Prioritizing the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable through risk-informed development cooperation”, this eighth meeting of the Forum resumed in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing focus to emerging issues and refining ideas for high-quality, high-impact development in the areas of climate resilience, social protection, and digital transformation.
Key messages put forward included:
- Development cooperation must evolve rapidly to tackle current global crises by putting a laser focus on the challenges of the most vulnerable countries and people. Member States called for going beyond GDP and including more holistic criteria in assessing the needs for development cooperation in all its forms, including concessional finance. They also considered the new concept of “circular development cooperation”, a concept that recognizes that expertise and assistance in addressing vulnerabilities and structural gaps can flow from developing to developed countries in addition to more traditional forms of development cooperation.
- Climate resilience must be more effectively embedded into development cooperation. New financing commitments such as those related to loss and damage, must be operationalized quickly and be directed swiftly where they are needed most.
“Developing the Country’s ownership and leadership of their development and climate trajectory is the key,” said Rania A. Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation.
- With over 4 billion people living without a social safety net, strong social protection systems must become a global priority of development cooperation. “Social protection is a matter of urgency. We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable,” highlighted Mrs. Fatou Gueye Diane, Senegal’s Minister of Women, Family, and Child Protection. Unlocking financing for social protection systems requires bold fiscal and monetary policies. Multilateral fora and development cooperation can play an important role in facilitating the allocation of financial resources, supporting technical assistance and capacity building, exchanging knowledge and best practices, and setting up data and information collection systems.
- Development cooperation needs to scale up technology transfer, financing, and capacity building to support inclusive livelihoods in developing countries through meaningful participation in the digital economy and e-commerce. The lack of Internet access persists for nearly 3 billion people, predominantly from developing countries, magnifying the digital divide.
“China is willing to strengthen digital economy cooperation with other Member States and let the fruits of digital economy development benefit people of all countries,” highlighted Mr. Chen Chunjiang, Assistant Minister of Commerce from the People’s Republic of China.
“Making progress on these priorities will require… predictable development cooperation in all its forms – financing, capacity support, collective support to policy change and partnership,” said Lachezara Stoeva, President of the Economic and Social Council, in convening the meeting.
The 2023 Development Cooperation Forum kicks off this year’s SDG financing discussions, serving as an opportunity for Member States and other stakeholders to heighten their ambitions at the midpoint of implementing the SDGs. These ambitions will culminate at the SDG Summit and High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in September at the opening of the 78th UN General Assembly. Mr. Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs emphasized the DCF as “an important step in the process of generating momentum, stronger consensus on priority areas and actionable proposals for a potential breakthrough moment in September.”