A review of VNRs of Bangladesh, Nepal and India indicates that there is significant progress being made in achieving SDGs. However, inadequacy of finances appears to be a limiting factor, writes Lenin Babu for South Asia Monitor
By Lenin Babu
Member states of the United Nations have adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with about 232 indicators as The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
They also agreed to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels and present them for review by the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). HLPF would carry out regular reviews of the voluntary National Reviews (VNR) to “provide a platform for partnerships, including through the participation of major groups and other relevant stakeholders”.
Accordingly, during 2016, the first year of VNR presentations, 22 countries addressed the HLPF while 2017 saw presentation by 43 countries. From South Asia, Bangladesh, India and Nepal have submitted their VNR in 2017. Sri Lanka, Bhutan will submit their VNRs during the 2018 meetings.
rA review of VNRs of Bangladesh, Nepal and India indicates that there is significant progress being made in achieving SDGs. However, inadequacy of finances appears to be a limiting factor. Bangladesh has indicated that it may require around US$ 1.5 trillion worth of additional resources for full implementation of SDGs. Nepal, with an annual budget was $9,990 million in 2016/17, has clearly expressed its limitations to meet the SDG targets. Decreasing flow of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) including grants, loans and technical assistance, from 85.7 percent of commitments in 1999/00 to only 55.4 percent in 2014/15, contributed to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2014/15 and is therefore grossly inadequate for meeting SDGs.
Similarly, India has also said that despite its significant efforts for domestic resource mobilisation, it is unlikely to gather sufficient revenues for achieving the SDGs. Availability of finances would be a key determining factor for attaining SDGs. In this context, taking benefit of dynamic relation between SDGs, developing countries can harness other financial sources, such as climate finances.
The nature of SDGs were evolved in such a manner that the advancement of one goal may lead to progress in other goals as well.
For instance, Goal 2 - ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ will have a direct bearing on SD Goal 3 of ‘Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages’. Therefore, financial commitments by Developed Countries under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC), through institutions like Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Adaptation Fund (AF), and the latest Green Climate Fund (GEF), can offer some solace.
In July 2017, India has nominated National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as National Implementing Entity (NIE) for the overall project monitoring and implementation of multilateral climate change funding. NABARD, as the name suggests, is active in bringing transformation in climate sensitive farm-based economic sectors.
Shifting away from traditional agencies of funding and by opting for such an action research organization, India has paved the way for successful pathways for convergence of climate change coping measures with SDGs.
Jump-starting its function, NABARD has already facilitated is implementation in a project on resilience in vulnerable tribal areas of Odisha State, with an outlay of US $ 31.63 million funded by the Global Carbon Fund. Though the proposed action is envisaged to reduce vulnerability and mitigate green house gases (GHGs), it will help in achieving several SDGs. It would thus be ideal for all members of South Asia and other developing countries to plan such convergence of programmes of climate change and SDGs.
(The author is a consultant with Karnataka State Women's University, Vijayapura, India. He can be reached at email@example.com)