Published September 2019
Lessons from health and how to invest wisely in development
By Guido Schmidt-Traub

Guido Schmidt-Traub is Executive Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which operates under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement. He leads the SDSN’s policy work with a particular focus on sustainable land-use and food systems; financing for development; and the SDG Index and Dashboards.

In a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) study, the head of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department and his colleagues show that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require a large increase in public and private investments.¹ Low-income developing countries with average per capita incomes below US$ 2,700 per year cannot finance these investments out of domestic resources or debt financing alone – even though domestic resource mobilisation can and needs to be expanded substantially in many countries. Neither will the private sector come to the rescue, as many SDG investments cannot generate commercial returns. The IMF concludes that Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other forms of concessional finance must increase if the SDGs are to be achieved, a point also echoed in a 2018 report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.²