Regional UN meeting reinforces need for integrated national financing frameworks to achieve the SDGs

The critical role of financing for development in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asia-Pacific, with a particular focus on countries with special needs, was highlighted at the Second Session of the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development, which concluded today at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Noting that large financing gaps remain in many countries, the Committee proposed several policy areas where governments could take action, including enhancing fiscal resources and regional tax cooperation and improving the business environment to attract private financing.

Several Asia-Pacific least developed countries (LDC) reported on their progress towards graduation from LDC status. However, they emphasized the need to ensure a smooth transition, given that some international support measures would be discontinued. Delegates from countries with special needs also expressed difficulties in enhancing the access of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) to finance.

Strengthening regional tax cooperation was also discussed at the three-day meeting. The Committee noted progress made by Asia-Pacific countries in addressing cross-border and emerging domestic tax challenges as well as the region’s active contribution to international tax cooperation initiatives led by the OECD, G20 and the United Nations.

To improve the prospects of achieving the SDGs, the Committee emphasized the importance of mainstreaming the SDGs into domestic economic policymaking, adopting a whole-of-government approach, and strengthening regional cooperation. It recognized that much progress had been made in mapping the SDGs into national development plans and various sectoral strategies as well as in monitoring processes.

The Committee underscored the need to effectively implement plans and policies that are aligned with the SDGs. These include assessment of financial requirements, the development of financing strategies, increasing the fiscal space, and unlocking the potential of innovative sources and instruments such as green bonds and public-private partnership mechanisms.

The Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development is held every two years and serves as a platform for ESCAP member countries to evaluate regional economic development policies and options, as well as integrated approaches to financing for development.