[Leaders Dialogue 5] Unity and solidarity: Strengthening multilateral system for enhanced support, cooperation, follow up and review

By APRN | September 20, 2023

Statement by Ajay Kumar Jha of CECOEDECON/Asia Pacific regional CSOs Engagement (APRCEM)

Ajay Jha (iisd.org)

Excellencies and Colleagues

I also represent Asia Pacific Regional CSOs Engagement Mechanism, a platform of more than 500 CSOs, where we describe the current state of the SDGs as “halfway there but nowhere near.” This is because of the simple fact that we have overlooked the systemic or structural barriers even in the Agenda 2030. Let’s look at partnerships through the lens of systemic barriers.

An overwhelming majority of them (up to 90%) are local or domestic partnerships, low-income countries (LICs) are involved in fewer partnerships, less than 1/6th (Uppsala University Sweden study) and they also have half the number of partnerships as compared to the high-income countries (HICs). There is a huge regional imbalance as well as unmet needs of the LICs on the SDGs they want to focus on.

What does this tell us? This means that (i) these partnerships are based on ease of development rather than addressing the needs of the SDGs, (ii) the Northern countries still dominate the partnerships, and (iii) these partnerships further perpetuate the north-south divide and global inequality.

As far as partnerships with the CSOs are concerned, out of 8000 partnerships listed on the partnership platform, CSOs are mentioned in only 260 of them!

The financing gap for the SDGs is $ 4.2 trillion, and the tax revenue of the LICs and LMICs put together is $ 4.8 trillion. Without a meaningful resource partnership, they may not be able to achieve the SDGs at all.

But should we limit it only to the partnerships listed on the partnerships platform?

Let’s look at the traditional form of partnership which is trade. Even today tens of trillions of dollars every year are transferred to the global north through undervaluing the products and services (and embedded energy, labor, and land) from the global south. You might wonder what kind of calculation is this. Let me help you understand this. 1 barrel of oil (priced at around $ 70) produces energy that is equal to 50,000 hours of hard human labor of a worker in the global south. At the rate of $ 20 per hour, this is equal to 1 Million USD! Is this factored in the north-south trade? Does any partnership factor in this kind of unequal exchange?

Let’s look at Partnerships in the climate space. G20 accountable for more than 80% of global emissions is likely to reduce their emission only by 10% by 2030, as against the desired 50%. In adaptation (where most needs are in the poorest countries and communities) less than 20% of climate finance goes to adaptation. Less than 14% of climate finance goes to the LDCs and less than 2% to SIDS. {The impact of this inaction is that 55 most vulnerable countries incurred economic losses of more than $ 500 billion during 2000-2020 and 69% of the excess deaths due to extreme climate events take place in the global south.} Well, if this is not enough, we are taking this inequality to 2050 and beyond! In most of the IPCC scenarios to meet the target of 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees, the socio-economic and energy variables for developing and least developed countries are agonizingly low. In simple words, the per capita income and energy consumption in these countries even in 2050 will still be far below the current per capita income and energy consumption in developed countries based on the current models. Can this partnership deliver the transformation we require?

The most basic form of partnership is ODA. The fifty-year-old promise has delivered a shortfall of $ 5.6 Trillion. Even during the pandemic, the HICs could mobilize less than 1% in ODA as compared to what they gave in fiscal stimulus. Achieving the 0.7% of the GNI can deliver $ 200 billion more every year

What do we need to do?

1. Involve LICs more and in more meaningful and equitable partnerships

2. Address geographical and focal imbalances in SDG partnerships

3. Systematically assess and factor in relevant north-south divide considerations in partnerships, so they do not increase the north-south divide and global inequality further.

We highly appreciate what has been done by a multitude of actors at various levels on the road to the Agenda 2030. We can achieve the transformation that we are seeking only when we address this systemic barrier and the epistemic divide.

Thank you!

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