How Can Developing Countries Pay for the SDGs?
With objectives as far-reaching as ending poverty in all its forms and delivering quality education to all by 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are highly ambitious – much more ambitious than their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals. Whether the world achieves these goals or not will depend crucially on money – particularly public finance.
Traditionally, official development assistance (ODA) would play a pivotal role in financing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which encompasses the 17 SDGs. But, at a time when nationalist rhetoric and isolationist policies are gaining traction in some of the world’s biggest traditional donor countries, the ODA will not be sufficient. In fact, foreign aid has remained flat, at best, in the last few years – and there is no increase in sight. On the contrary, the spectre of global recession – heightened by US President Donald Trump’s trade war – makes a reduction in donor governments’ revenues, together with increased domestic demand for public spending, a distinct possibility. None of this bodes well for foreign aid flows.
This means that, to implement the SDGs, developing countries will need to rely increasingly on their own resources. And, in fact, the 2030 Agenda anticipates this imperative: the first target of SDG17 is to “strengthen domestic resource mobilization … to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection.” The question is, how?
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