• Mission Statement

    The NGO Committee on Financing for Development at the United Nations advocates for a worldwide economy that is environmentally and socially sustainable, ethical, and people-centered.

    Guided by the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, we urge policymakers to support development strategies that end global poverty and advance human rights. We seek international financial systems that are fair and truly representative of all people. We are motivated by the moral imperatives underlying the United Nations Charter and the missions of the organizations we represent.

  • Membership Benefits

    Network and dialogue at the UN with those working on for Financing for Development (FfD) issues and collaborate with global network of FfD organizations.

    Participate in monthly meetings featuring regular briefings from the UN FfD Office and distinguished guest speakers from the UN Community.

    Voice concerns on FfD issues to the UN through written and oral statements prepared within the Committee.

    Receive notices of meetings and conferences on FfD issues sponsored by the UN or NGO Committee, including high-level meetings with Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization).

    (Go to www.ngosonffd.org for FfD resources and committee membership form)

UNCTAD 14: A STRONG CIVIL SOCIETY NECESSARY FOR TRADE JUSTICE

By Veronica MwaVeronica Mwangangi cropngangi, IBVM: The two-day pre-conference civil society forum was very intense as we deliberated on the civil society declaration to be presented to the negotiation committee at the main UNCTAD 14 meeting. The discussions were an eye opener to me on the economic situation of the world and especially of developing countries. Gender issues, inequalities within and among nations, illicit financial flows out of developing countries, stagnation in global trade, multilateralism, and green finance are some of the issues that interested me. A few issues bothered me: that developing countries are on the verge of debt distress, that they are dependent on commodities trade which is highly affected by the ever changing global prices and demand, the high level of illicit trade, and that the developing countries found trade with developed nations difficult because of the non-tariff measures imposed by the latter.

Conversations during the side-events of the civil society forum left me thinking that developing countries would need to seal off all the avenues that allow illicit financial flows out of the countries, move up the value chain by investing this finance in manufacturing and processing industries so as to minimize commodities exports, and perhaps consider south – south trade in order to realize the SDGs. I found the conversations at the civil society forum honest. A strong civil society movement is necessary in a country….. no wonder the Secretary General  of UNCTAD referred to the official opening of the civil society forum as actually the opening of UNCTAD 14.

As a teacher of business studies, attending UNCTAD 14 provided me with information and statistics to quantify what I teach. Tax havens were discussed by civil society, so as a patron of a tax club whose aim is to inculcate a tax paying culture among young people, I made contact with Tax Justice Network, Africa and I intend to depend on them to expand the horizon of my students and staff on tax matters. I hope to use the contacts established with NGOs to promote care of the environment and the empowerment of women.

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UNCTAD 14: FOCUS ON YOUTH AND WOMEN

Eunice NdabiBy Eunice Ndabi, IBVM:  At UNCTAD 14, I was much interested in the youth forum at which UNCTAD secretary general Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi urged youth to claim their rightful position in shaping the world and the future they want and to question and monitor their governments’ task of meeting the SDGs. He said, “We cannot always build the future for the youth but we can build the youth for the future.” He also asked youth to make good use of the funds endowed to them and the training opportunities presented to empower them. Manu Chandaria, philanthropist and chairperson of Kenya Manufacturers Association, encouraged youth to cultivate resilience and patience in small undertakings that with perseverance would yield greatly.

Unpaid work was another topic that interested me as most of it is done by women, especially in developing countries. These include housework, care of invalids, and subsistence farming, among others. Economic empowerment of women was also key as power imbalances are to be put in check and women would have ownership and control of resources, access to ICTs, and conducive policy environment for women investors.
Especially in the service of youth, I will do my best to empower them with the life skills they need to claim their position on the global map. Coincidentally it’s the girl child I deal with, and this amounts to “women empowerment.”
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UNCTAD 14: WHICH KIND OF “NAIROBI OUTCOME”?

Nkoa 3By Sébastien Nkoa, economist and banker

As we are moving towards the end of what will enter into history as UNCTAD 14, negotiations are going on in Nairobi in order to get the final text of what will be called the “Nairobi Outcome” with two major instruments: a political declaration to be called “Nairobi Azimio and a negotiated text to be called “Nairobi Consensus. While representatives of various delegations are still discussing the final document, worries are already being brought forward regarding key issues that must be taken into account if a great outcome will be offered.

The first and most outstanding concern of UNCTAD 14 is about the meaning of UNCTAD itself. Indeed the future outcome document seems to suffer greatly from discussions which are going on threatening to dilute the meaning of UNCTAD itself. In that regard no adequate resources are put to the disposition of UNCTAD in order to achieve its mission. EU (European Union) wants to turn UNCTAD into a mere technical assistance organization. This new structure will have as its fundamental task more technical assistance toward members especially developing countries than as a forum of discussion on fundamental issues regarding development of trade commerce and technology around the world. In the same line, EU wants less intergovernmental interaction into the UNCTAD process. This approach takes out of the process controversial issues involving macro policy, finance, debt, illicit finance flows, and many others for which developing countries are really pushing in order to get justice on issues which make them lose a lot on international financial system.

The tax issue is pretty controversial since EU in line with the JUSCANZ group (Japan, United States, Canada, and New Zealand), wants just to put on the table a take-it-or-leave-it text that they hope developing countries will accept, a deal which is far from done. And this is where CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) reaffirm their stand to see key points reaffirmed with strong language.

Indeed since the last “Panama Papers scandal (involving high ranked governmental authorities all over the world as well as many multinationals), illicit finance flows and tax evasion have come back to the table as major issues which should be addressed. Besides this there is a need for a global structural transformation agenda, addressed at the global level and not just at the regional level of Africa. Issues faced by Africa have their roots from various corners of the world, not necessarily in Africa, and have also repercussions all over the world, not only in Africa. This is why a more inclusive development agenda (Agenda 2030) taking into account public services, gender equality, climate change, technology, youth, natural disaster, and policy security should be seen as a priority during discussions going on in Nairobi in these last days of a highly awaited conference.

While we are waiting for the final outcome document with its two major instruments, let us hope that the fruits will honor the expectations of their flowers, highly admired during preparation of the conference.

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UNCTAD 14 CSO FORUM: A LOOK AT THE ROLE OF UNCTAD TODAY

Nkoa 3By Sebastien Nkoa, economist and banker:
The fourteenth UN conference on trade and development known as UNCTAD 14, which is taking place in Nairobi 17-22 July 2016, was preceded by a CSO (Civil Society Organization) Forum the week before the conference. During that CSO Forum, time was taken to reflect upon the real meaning and actual need of UNCTAD. According to the majority of representatives, priorities and means of implementation of UNCTAD should be reshuffled; otherwise there is a risk of losing the opportunity to tackle development as it should be done and by this to help achieve the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Referring to the Declaration of Civil Society to UNCTAD 14 issued on 18 July 2016, let’s make a survey of some key points of CSO concerns.

The crucial role of UNCTAD was established 50 years ago when it was settled to be a platform for “thought and action on broad issues of trade and development explicitly formulated around the challenges and perspectives of the vulnerable and marginalized majority of nations within the international system, and the people in them.” This noble vision of the platform has gone a long way so far, and it is laudable to notice that that mission and vision carried the platform beyond advocacy work for only developing countries. All countries all over the world today benefit from the platform and the most recent intervention of the platform was its action to spot the last global financial crisis before it happened. Structural issues such as structural debt, inequalities, sovereign debt restructuring, illicit financial flows, mining irregularities and so forth have been at the center of debates since.

Unfortunately UNCTAD suffers from fundamental changes of focus that need to be addressed these days if the original goals of the platforms are to be reached. The first one of the key issues to be addressed is the responsibility to the many countries that need the services of UNCTAD regarding the evolution and management of globalization as well as interdependence of trade, finance, investment and technology as they affect the growth and development prospects of developing countries. Indeed most of the developing countries for the last couple of decades have strengthened economic structures inherited from colonial masters. Unfortunately they have few structures to transform their resources as well as their products. Here UNCTAD should continue its mediating role to help developing countries have a voice in international marketplace.

The second point we want to mention here is the major role UNCTAD should play on curbing tax evasion and avoidance and illicit financial flows, including in commodities markets and through investment policies. As was already introduced during FfD (Financing for Development) Forum in Addis Ababa, tax avoidance and other misbehaviors in international fiscal policies are a big blow to developing countries which own resources but lose, through tax evasion and avoidance, revenues they could make from the trade of those resources. Billions of US dollars could be recovered and used to finance development of third world through clean, just, and clear mechanisms and this should be done under the auspices of the United Nations. Once again as was discussed in Addis Ababa, alternative and development-oriented methodology on debt sustainability analysis and national vulture funds legislation should be supported by UNCTAD. In this line the UNCTAD Road Map and Guide to Sovereign Debt Workout should be made known and explained and assistance given for understanding by Member States. Developing countries are under the heavy burden of unjust debt which swallows huge amounts of their budgets, depriving important sectors like health, education, infrastructure, and gender equality from investments that can change lives of billions of people living under poverty.

For these elements to be implemented, research and policy analysis, including positive and negative impacts of trade rules on international and regional development strategies, and on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, are needed independently of the World Trade Organization which does not share the development mission of UNCTAD. The Trade and Development Report is one of the outlets that UNCTAD should use for such analysis. In this regard the role of the private sector should be monitored by UNCTAD especially on mobilization of domestic resources, fiscal and debt sustainability, human rights, and climate change. The current economic model that allows multinationals to take advantage of weak rule of law in many countries in order to exploit cheap labour opportunities should be one of the major concerns of UNCTAD in order to regulate actions of those multinationals. It will be important not to leave aside transfer of technology since it is an essential element enabling sustainable development in developing countries. UNCTAD should support it as well as it supports capacity-building programs especially of small and medium-sized enterprises with the right information on policies and benefits at the grassroots level. All this combined with access to finance for marginalized categories can be another priority of this UNCTAD Conference in Nairobi.

These are a few of the issues which are worth being followed closely during the current UNCTAD Conference since our world is at the edge of major changes that are coming just after one of the most important financial and economic crises the world has gone through and at the trade and commercial conventions which will shape the future of our planet. CSOs have understood the importance of the fight, not for minority selfish interest but for the common good of our planet and its inhabitants.

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UNCTAD 14: To make our world a better place to live in

Nkoa 3By Sébastien Nkoa, OP, SNDatUN delegate to UNCTAD 14:

The 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which will take place from 17-22 July in Nairobi, preceded by a one-week Civil Society Forum, is another great opportunity for Civil Society Organizations to discuss their views with Member States. This conference will give me the possibility to get closer to the reality of Trade, Commerce and Development at a higher level. In that regard I am following closely sub-theme 4 which is the “contribution to the effective implementation of and follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and relevant outcomes from global conferences and summits, as related to trade and development”.

Indeed after the failure to achieve the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals), I am interested to know how the international community and UNCTAD in particular will work to implement both the newly proposed SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the AAAA (Addis Ababa Action Agenda) which is the road map to achieve the SDGs. I do believe that we are the ones to make our future bright or dark. That is why I hope through my participation to this conference to shed my contribution of light in order to make our world a better place to live in.

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Can we save modern economics?

Nkoa 3By Sébastien Nkoa, OP
Economist, Banker, Project Developer – Central African Republic

Can we save our modern economy? Referring to Bernard Lonergan, ‘what is needed is a new political economy that is free from the mistake of the old political economy yet a democratic economy that can issue practical imperatives to plain men” (FNPE 5). Our answer is that our modern economy should be replaced by a New Political Economy; this new economy should bring back man at the center of its system first and reduce its reliance on science and statistic secondly.

Reforms of the old political economy are necessary in order to achieve this. There is urgent need to deal with bias. Why bias? “Problems can be manifest. Insights that solve them may be available. But the insights will not be grasped and implemented by biased minds” (B. Lonergan, Microeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis, 102). Among biases there is the bias of neurosis, fertile in evasion of insight, there is the bias of the individual egoist by which someone exploits each new situation to his own personal advantage, there is the bias of group egoism blind to the fact that the group no longer fulfills its once useful function and that in one way or another blocks development and impedes progress. This happens in many African countries whereby an elite of a few privileged people hanging around heads of state refuse to leave power, and so seek to modify their national constitution in order to maintain themselves in power. There is finally the general bias of all “good” men and women of common sense who strongly believe that they can solve all the problems by their sole actions (MD: ECA 102)

Lonergan proposes a New Political Economy which should bring back man to the center of its system. The more economics endeavors to be an exact science, the more incapable it becomes to speak to men and the greater its tendency to treat men the way the exact sciences treat atoms and guinea pigs[…]. We are asking for an instrument that democracy must have, for it is the broad generalization, the significant correlation that effectively organizes free men without breaking down their freedom (FNPE 7).

When the system that is needed for our collective survival does not exist, then it is futile to excoriate what does exist while blissfully ignoring the task of constructing a technically viable economic system that can be put in its place. Is my proposal utopian? It asks merely for creativity for an interdisciplinary theory that at first will be denounced as absurd, then will be admitted to be true but obvious and insignificant, and perhaps finally be regarded as so important that its adversaries will claim that they themselves discovered it (MD: ECA 106).

Two concerns with UNFCCC COP 21 outcome agreement: time and meaning losses

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By Sébastien Nkoa, OP
Economist, Banker, Project Developer – Nairobi, Kenya

The 21st UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change) Conference of the Parties (COP 21) which took place between November and December (30 November – 12 December 2015) left us with a taste of unfinished business. Indeed a number of elements in the overall ‘Paris Outcome’ are not realistic. Those elements can be found in the Paris Agreement, COP 21 decision, and Paris Action Agenda. Weaknesses presented in those three points make us not so proud of what some claim to be the first world deal on climate change.

In the world of international relationships ahead of the signature of an agreement, three scenarios are possible: 1: ‘Le Zombie’ which is a tactical deal with potential for collapse; 2: ‘Comme ci, Comme ca’ which is a modest progress with guarantees on finance; 3: ‘Va Va Voom’ which cements a new enduring regime on climate change.

Logo-COP21I consider the ‘Paris Outcome’ to be scenario ‘Le Zombie’ first of all in ‘time concern’ that the agreement will take before it enters into force by 2020 and once 55 countries covering 55% of global emission of gas have acceded to it. The ‘time concern’ here is very crucial since one of the new concepts brought about by COP 21, INDCs (Intended National Determined Contributions), cannot be trusted. INDCs relegate the implementation of 78% of new power investment to 2030 in major economies. In between nothing can guarantee the success of its implementation by that time. Indeed for this to happen we should not forget that various countries before signing up to a global agreement will need buy-in from a wide range of domestic actors, local economic factors, and geographical factors as well as political and economical ones. If all these elements are to be taken into account our concern is that side effects of climate change will not be waiting and the situation will keep on deteriorating while governments will be using time to avoid fulfilling their promises. Though strengthening of overall temperature goal requires faster short-term cuts, here comes up clearly the fact that the overall idea calls us to move to net zero emission from 2050-60.

The second element of ‘time concern’ is related to the new collective climate finance goal which shifted all finance flows to low carbon resilience investment beyond the current level of $100bn up to 2025. How shall this be achieved? Indeed here the question was neither to postpone the date nor for the UNFCCC to increase the amount of fund to rise. This other ‘time concern’ takes us to an unnecessary debate since the previous debate about funds was not resolved, and this one lacks specificity regarding the question of who will give exactly what? When shall it be given? How shall it be given? Thus by accepting to increase share of finance for adaptation and mechanism to deal with insurance and displaced people UNFCCC misses the goal and misplaces the priority. Here it should remain clear that the previous climate finance was not yet well performed thus the solution should be on how to offer a better mechanism of action and not on leverage of more money.

This element of money takes us to the second concern about Paris agreement outcome: To include talks on climate change in other international processes including G 20 and SDGs  is a huge mistake. Here there is a ‘loss of meaning concern’. It should be clear that including talks on climate change as priority in other international processes sounds good but the risk is to dilute it within those processes. This will have the effect of overshadowing climate change priorities since priorities can’t be the same. Here there is a clear risk to converge towards a common framework with a mandate to firm up modalities in future which might not be modalities and priorities of talks on climate change. No need then to mention that this will imply strong political intent which will induce further granularity in the coming years, waste of time, energy, priorities.

This ‘loss of meaning concern’ can also be seen in the fact that the crucial point of fossil fuel question was left to governments and investors. COP 21 left it up to governments and investors to look for an orderly transition away from fossil fuel-dominated economy. Here comes the question of the meaning of the meeting if such an important question is left to investors who, as we know, are the first users of fossil fuels. Though a task force was set to make sure that the transition is in the process without particular prerogatives, that task force will not be effective while here effectiveness and efficacy should be priorities.

The last point we want to mention about the ‘loss of meaning’ is on the point of 2 C or 1.5 C (maintaining temperature rise below 2 Celsius or 1.5 Celsius). COP 21 missed the mark by not delivering immediately the commitments to deliver 2 C or 1.5 C as expected. Here the ‘loss of meaning concern’ and the ‘time concern’ meet since once again five more years have been given to companies to increase their emission cuts in order to meet the goal of 2 C or 1.5 C. This is very much disappointing when we know that the long term goal of greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of the century will require a fast response addressing questions of the time.

Regarding these two main concerns – ‘time concern’ and ‘loss of meaning concern’ – we can say that COP21 reached a ‘Le Zombie’ scenario. Good things were announced but in the reality those points elaborated are either unrealistic or so vague that they won’t be helpful to achieve the real objectives that we could have expected from such a conference. Let’s hope that before COP 22 in Morocco a better vision of where we want our planet to be in the nearest future will be defined.