The Power of Partnerships and Coalitions in Financing the SDGs

Today is a special anniversary as we mark 75 years of collective work since the UN came into existence. In September this year, we also reflected on five years since the adoption of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represented a new vision of development linking people, planet and prosperity and raised financing needs from billions to trillions.

Today is a special anniversary as we mark 75 years of collective work since the UN came into existence. In September this year, we also reflected on five years since the adoption of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represented a new vision of development linking people, planet and prosperity and raised financing needs from billions to trillions. With just ten years to go before the 2030 deadline, we must maintain the momentum that will result in achieving these goals globally, tackling the root causes of poverty, rather than treating the symptoms. 

The investment required to achieve the SDGs is beyond the capacity of any single government. If private sector funding is not stimulated, countries around the world would have to increase their public spending significantly to finance the goals – which is unrealistic, unsuitable and would increase public debt. 

At the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), we have pivoted our business model to work better for the SDGs, an ambition I launched after becoming President. Our new business model calls for the adoption of innovative financing tools, to mobilize more resources, which have the potential to unlock economic growth. They can fuel industrial growth and help enhance the capacity and competitiveness of our member countries, particularly through global value chains, in the pursuit of the SDGs. We have called for stronger collaboration across sectors, through our public, private, philanthropic and people partnership model. And we have harnessed the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution, encouraging new science and innovation initiatives to drive development. I have also been encouraging greater collaboration amongst development finance institutions on this agenda through my role as chair of the Heads of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) meetings and IsDB Group’s participation to the G20 under Saudi Arabian Presidency, aiming at “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century For All”. 

MDBs, each with its specific mandate, have supported member countries to realize long-term socio-economic development. Six months ago, I proposed to my peers from 11 other MDBs and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that we should collaborate to consider how our institutions can help bring the world closer to realizing the 2030 Agenda. Together we have reflected on opportunities to strengthen support for this vital agenda at this critical time. We anticipate launching a report that will showcase the efforts of these institutions, in support of the countries’ progress to achieve the SDGs, while acknowledging the urgency to achieve them and the work that needs to go into rebuilding a post COVID-19 world. 

2020 was set to be the starting date of the Decade of Action on the SDGs. However, the world has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing crisis.

IsDB member countries, and other developing nations, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The scale of its impact has highlighted our lack of preparedness. But the pandemic has shown us the powerful role of collaboration and partnerships in addressing the most pressing global challenges. 

To tackle the issues arising from the pandemic, IsDB implemented a US $2.3 billion  response package not only to address the immediate response to meet respective countries’ needs, but also give communities the right tools and finance to also restore and restart, looking at financing progress towards the SDGs in the years ahead. 

MDBs like the IsDB, unlike commercial banks, don’t seek to maximise profits - instead we seek to maximize development impact. Our banks are in a unique position to finance the SDGs and makes the best use of our respective business models. 

The impact of MDBs in their respective member countries and communities is real and measurable. A recent example being a collaborative effort between the Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joining forces with the Government of Cameroon to fight the pandemic. 

One of the most powerful UN Sustainable Development Goal is 17 – Partnerships for the Goals. Goal 17 captures the very essence of what we can achieve together when we work collaboratively. 

On UN Day, I will be reflecting on the Decade of Action and focus on the opportunity MDBs have, not only in in rebuilding a more resilient post-COVID-19 world but working together to provide the needed financing and expertise to reach the SDGs by 2030.

#MDBs4SDGs