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Published September 2023

Year one of the Data Cube strategy: Successes and challenges

By United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination Secretariat
The Chief Executives Board (CEB) Secretariat is the United Nations inter-agency entity responsible for supporting the work of the CEB and is the UN system’s highest-level coordination forum in the areas of programme and management. Under the umbrella of the CEB’s High-Level Committee on Programmes and High-Level Committee on Management (HLCM) sits the Finance and Budget Network (FBN), composed of the UN system organisations’ chief financial officers. The FBN entities report their revenue, expense and budget data to the CEB Secretariat on an annual basis.


Published September 2023

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: The big stuck

By Homi Kharas and Charlotte Rivard
Development financing is stuck amidst a time of immense need. With the COVID-19 pandemic and looming recession, the war in Ukraine and consequent supply chain and food shortages, rising debt distress, and the ever-pressing threat of climate change, developing countries face a multitude of overlapping crises.
Published September 2023

Financing the United Nations for people and planet

By Donald Kaberuka
How to get funding levels from billions to trillions was a major challenge. In the light of recent events, the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, we are witnessing a rise in poverty and inequality around the globe. This has further been deepened by the Russian aggression on Ukraine, rising interest rates and deteriorating credit markets in developing countries that is causing hyper-inflation and a high cost of living crisis.
Published September 2023

Carbon pricing: An integral part of a just transition

By Vera Songwe
In a world with many competing priorities, the investment resources needed for the climate transition are substantial. On the one hand, it is estimated an additional US$ 1 trillion per year will be needed by 2030 in external flows and private finance for emerging market economies (excluding China) to meet the projected investment needs and forestall the climate crisis. On the other hand, another US$ 1.5 trillion or more of domestic resources will be needed to complement external financing. It is important to understand that in many countries these domestic resources will come from taxation.
Seventy-five years ago, amid the barely cooled embers of the Second World War, states signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a unique document which articulated a clear global commitment: never again. The UDHR was nothing short of miraculous in its recognition that human rights were the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world; universal, indivisible and fundamental across every divide – religious, cultural, geographic, environmental. Yet today, shocking disparities and global crises have destabilised this foundation.
Humanitarian financing saves lives, supports human dignity and resilience, and helps to protect peace and development gains when disaster strikes. It is a fundamental global public good. Saving and protecting lives is nothing short of a race against the clock, often surrounded by massive uncertainty and volatility. It is the reason why the current approach is to make humanitarian action as anticipatory as possible, and only as reactive as necessary. Harnessing and converting funding into aid looks different in 2023 from what it did ten years ago. Data, money and collective action converge at the right time to maximise impact and avert worse outcomes. When crises are predictable, funding can be pre-arranged.
The annual Financing the UN Development System report prepared by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTFO) has increasingly become the ‘go to’ report for those wanting to better understand trends in the overall financing of the UN System. It also provides key insights into development financing policy issues for the broader multilateral community.


United Nations leaders, and hardworking staff on the ground, repeatedly call on donors to reduce earmarked funding, citing inefficiencies, restrictions on how and where to work, slower and more inefficient responses to urgent needs, and situations that are ultimately leaving vulnerable people worse off. But is more flexible funding really the answer? And if financial earmarking really is the root of all evil, then how do we stamp it out? when it appears increasingly fragile at this time of global development disruption and ‘polycrisis’.
The world is at an inflection point. United Nations Member States have agreed that global challenges are interconnected across borders, thus an equally interconnected response must address the challenges through reinvigorated, more inclusive multilateralism with a reformed UN at the centre. The year 2023 marks the halfway point for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — and the urgency of reigniting SDG action. The scale of natural and climate-induced crises as well as violent conflict the world over requires more concerted efforts to respond through increased humanitarian support, enhanced resilience and more sustainable development outcomes.
Published September 2023

How effective development cooperation supports the UN system partners expect

By Suharso Monoarfa, Judith Suminwa Tuluka, Marie Ottosson and Vitalice Meja
The United Nations marked its 75th anniversary in 2020 – signifying three generations committed to working toward peace, development and the spread of human rights. The same year, the most destabilising pandemic in over a century brought parts of the world to a standstill, providing a dramatic example of global goods, global ‘bads’ and the extent of international coordination needed to address some of the greatest threats to peace and prosperity. The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a whole new focus to multilateralism and has resulted in a number of efforts to strengthen multilateral solutions more broadly. Already in 2020, the UN Secretary-General had developed the initial thinking for Our Common Agenda: an ‘agenda of action’ to strengthen multilateralism, leading to the ‘Summit of the Future’ due to be held in 2024.
Published September 2023

Funding South-South and triangular cooperation at the United Nations: What do we know?

By Sebastian Haug and Silke Weinlich
At the United Nations, South–South cooperation provides a broad discursive umbrella for collaboration among developing countries, while triangular cooperation refers to partnerships where ‘developed country(ies)/or multilateral organisation(s)’ support South–South schemes. Although its actual extent and significance is often hard to grasp in quantitative terms, South–South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) has become an increasingly prominent modality for the imple-men tation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed upon unanimously in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are due to be achieved by 2030. However, progress has been too slow and incomplete, with recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis caused by the Ukraine war further setting back progress, especially in regard to poverty and food security targets.1 Although the common response to this shortfall has been to argue for more international development and climate finance, for policy and institutional reform aimed at monitoring progress towards the SDGs and climate goals, and for innovative solutions, this article argues that such efforts are not enough.
Increasing sustainable investment in low- and middle-income countries (namely developing countries) to fund successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate projects is paramount, and should be the North Star of development and climate finance.
Published September 2023

Localisation and Scaling: Two movements and a nexus

By Johannes F. Linn and Larry Cooley
‘Localisation’ and ‘scale’ – two of the most dominant themes in recent development debates – are born of separate but related frustrations with the legacy and architecture of inter-national development. In localisation’s case, this frustration begins with a rejection of the proposition that the wisdom and legitimacy to shape the destiny of a country, organisation, community or individual can come from the outside.


Officially, the world has a working plan to root out poverty. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent the plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, while the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) provides the framework for financing these collective ambitions.1 However, in reality the plan has been running into difficulty. International cooperation, including development cooperation, is increasingly hampered by a loss of trust between high-income countries and the Global South. A sense of indignation, strongly linked to the intrinsically unequal power relationship between giver and receiver, has grown alarmingly during the last few years.
Published September 2023

Blended finance for nature: The call for diversified conservation capital

By Briony Coulson and Pierre Bardoux
Biodiversity encompasses the rich variety of life on Earth and the abundant services its ecosystems provide. While the primary Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) addressing nature are 14 and 15, to conserve and sustainably use the marine and terrestrial environment, the achievement of all 17 SDGs is ultimately dependent on thriving biodiversity.
Violence against women and girls (VAWG), the most pervasive human rights violation in the world, remains endemic and devastating and continues to be a significant barrier to development. Despite the progress made over the past three decades, the latest figure remains largely unchanged with 1 in 3 women worldwide subjected to violence in their lifetime. More than 4 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation by 2023.
Published September 2023

Moving from climate crises to peacebuilding solutions

By United Nations Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs – Peacebuilding Support Office and Diane Sheinberg
The impact of the climate crisis continued to worsen around the world in 2022 and 2023: flooding in Pakistan and the United States, wildfires in Europe and Canada, severe drought in Africa, and record ice melt at the poles are just some examples. While climate change is rarely – if ever – the primary cause of conflict, it can act as a risk multiplier, exacerbating underlying social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. In doing so, it can compound existing grievances, leading to potential displacement and forced migration, raising food and water insecurity, threatening communities’ livelihoods and stalling economic growth.
Published September 2023

Advancing financing of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda in the United Nations system: Beyond commitments

By Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and United Network of Young Peacebuilders
Young people play a critical role in efforts for building and sustaining peace. A growing body of evidence demonstrates their importance as mediators, community mobilisers and advocates collaborating across borders to prevent conflict and maintain peace. Through these roles, they strengthen the reach and credibility of peacebuilding programmes within marginalised communities; mobilise powerful social change movements; and employ innovative, intersectional approaches to peacebuilding and conflict prevention.


Published September 2022

Taking data quality to the next level

By United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)
The Chief Executives Board (CEB) Secretariat has been producing financial statistics on United Nations system- wide revenue and expenditures for at least three decades. The key data source is the revenue and expenses data that individual UN entities report annually to the CEB Secretariat.


Published September 2022

Fiscal response to the COVID-19 crisis

By Vera Songwe
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the global economy on a scale not recorded since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Global real gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 5% in 2020, with – aside from a handful countries, including China – economies across the board registering real GDP contraction. In response to the unprecedented economic crisis, countries responded vigorously and swiftly, deploying a variety of fiscal, monetary and financial policy measures. In contrast
to the response during the 2008 global financial crisis, there was wider consensus on the use of fiscal policy
– notably utilising discretionary fiscal measures while also letting automatic stabilisers work. In total, the global fiscal response between January 2020 and September 2021 amounted to US$ 16.9 trillion, or 16.4% of global GDP in 2020.