SOAS economist speaks at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum 2022

27 July 2022

Professor Ulrich Volz spoke at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum 2022 (HLPF) . The HLPF is the central United Nations platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level.

The meeting of the HLPF in 2022 was held between 5 and 15 July 2022, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council , and included a three-day ministerial segment. The theme for the 2022 HLPF was “Building back better from the coronavirus disease while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Professor Volz, who is the Director of the SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance , spoke at a session on “ Financing a robust crisis response and investing in the SDGs ”. Other speakers of this session included Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

In his intervention, Professor Volz made three main points. First, he emphasised that the debt crisis looming in the Global South is threating recoveries and impeding much-needed investments in climate resilience and the Agenda 2030 . There is an urgent need to address this debt crisis because countries that are facing a sovereign debt crisis will not be able to invest in the SDGs and climate resilience.

Second, he highlighted that the mobilisation of private capital into developing countries has not been successful. The track record of project-based ‘de-risking’ as a way of leveraging public money to achieve trillion-dollar transformations is poor. Given that only relatively small amounts of private international capital flew into SDG-relevant areas in developing countries over the last decade, when global economic conditions were relatively benign, this won’t happen in the coming years given the increasingly difficult global economic environment and the debt problems facing many developing countries.

Thirdly, he highlighted the need to find better ways of mobilising financing for development, including through national and multinational development banks. The latter should use their paid-in capital much more effectively and mobilise more private capital through issuing bonds so that they can significantly expand their concessional financing. He also called for a much larger role for national development banks in financing infrastructure development and in advancing a just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.