World leaders are gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week for the third Financing for Development conference (FFD3). Their goal is simple, audacious and essential: to reboot a global partnership to achieve the vision of a world free from poverty, of shared and sustainable prosperity by 2030, ensuring that all the means needed for achieving this vision are unlocked.
The need for billions of people is urgent. Ending poverty in all its forms is a moral imperative. For the first time in history, it is within reach. Reducing the inequalities and ensuring that all human beings have the opportunity to flourish through universal access to social protection, health, education, nutritious food, energy, housing or water and sanitation can be achieved within a generation.
Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production that drive climate change and our planet degradation are costing us dearly today and will cost us even more tomorrow. Low-carbon economic development and inclusive growth is the only way to achieve a life of dignity for all of Earth’s people.
We cannot afford to miss this universal opportunity. To see the costs of inaction, consider what is happening today in Nigeria. Lake Chad provides water to more than 68 million people living in the four countries surrounding it. But unsustainable management of water resources over decades have conspired with extreme weather patterns to cause the lake to shrink dramatically. This ecological catastrophe has resulted in social exclusion, loss of vibrant livelihoods, communities and inequality for the region’s people. Young people, disenfranchised and hopeless, have become easy prey for extremists, allowing groups like Boko Haram to rise and spread. Rendering young girls aspiring to their dreams through a good education to become victims of horrific crimes. In this region, it is heartbreakingly clear that climate change, social exclusion and bad governance lead to violence and instability.
The impacts are far and wide.
Fortunately, the solutions we need already exist. This has been demonstrated by over two years of United Nations member states' engagement with a broad array of people and constituencies.
Consensus is emerging to set the planet on a sustainable path. But consensus is not enough. With the quality of the planet's health and the quality of life for its people inextricably linked, we need bold leadership, government policies and public and private investments to achieve sustainable development.
We have the will; now we need to ensure we have the resources to back it up. This is a critical first step to move from rhetoric to actions to realize this vision. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an expansion and progression on the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000, are part of an ambitious transformation agenda that brings together goals for ending poverty in all its forms, reducing inequality, boosting sustainable economic growth, reversing environmental degradation and ensuring climate action. They are achievable and essential — and they will require the right keys from the FfD conference — regulations, credit guarantees, de-risking tools and other innovative mechanisms — to unlock the door to major investments from businesses, governments and other key stakeholders. This is part of the paradigm shift required to achieve sustainable development, including development finance.
Where will these essential investments come from? We need all oars pulling in the same direction together: strengthened commitment and better targeting to those most in need- official development assistance by donor countries; increased domestic resource mobilization by both developed and developing countries; financial inclusion especially for our women and the incentives, regulations and commitment needed for making the business community proactive architects and builders of decent work and sustainable management of natural resources.
This week's FFD3 summit presents another important opportunity to secure the resources we need for the well being of all people and the health of our planet.
We have reason to hope that when future generations look back on our stewardship of human dignity, human rights and protecting our planet, they will note that this was a period when finance and investment chose the only path that ensures our joint survival: one toward inclusive, clean and low-carbon development that put an end to excruciating poverty by 2030. We are the first generation that can irreversibly end poverty and protect the planet from the worst impacts of climate change. It's time for bold leadership and concrete actions now!
Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria is the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning. She was previously senior special assistant to the president of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals after serving three presidents over a period of six years.
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