Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

A snapshot of the ongoing work at the United Nations in times of crisis

This briefing paper looks at the financing for development (FfD) work at the United Nations in 2020, an exceptional year due to outbreak of the global coronavirus crisis in the spring. Following this shock, FfD became a highly relevant issue on the UN agenda. The FfD process as originally scheduled was redesigned, with the FfD Forum originally scheduled for April cut down from four days of face-to-face meetings to a virtual session that lasted for just one hour. An official outcome document was adopted anyway, however free of concrete commitments that would match the needs of coping with the crisis.

In late May, Canada, Jamaica and the UN Secretary-General took the initiative to convene the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, which saw unprecedented participation by heads of states and governments, and eventually led to the foundation of six thematic working groups mandated to develop policy options on pertinent FfD topics – such as debt relief and illicit financial flows – or even wider sustainable development issues such as growth, labor, and the rather abstract concept of recovering better.

This briefing paper is a snapshot that maps, summarizes and briefly analyses the work on FfD at UN level that took place in 2020, until mid-August. In doing so, it aims to create more transparency about this important UN workstream, help to disseminate its preliminary outcomes, and mobilize and enable more actors to participate constructively in this work. A strong and effective multilateral response to the crisis, with the UN at its center, will be crucial to mitigating the impact of the coronavirus crisis and ensuring a speedy recovery.

By Bodo Ellmers

Published by: Global Policy Forum, Brot für die Welt and Misereor

Aachen/Berlin/Bonn, August 2020