The need for an integrated approach to financing is greater now that it has ever been – to build forward better within the context of deep socio-economic impacts and rapid changes across the financing landscape that have been triggered by the COVID-19 crisis.
Building on the successful experience of the pilot training held for North and Central Asian countries in January 2021, UNITAR, ESCAP, UNDP and UNDESA have teamed up - in collaboration with the country-led platform Asia-Pacific SDG Finance Facility (APFIN) - to create a knowledge sharing and learning space for Asia-Pacific countries to share experiences related to strengthening INFFs and to learn about possible approaches and steps for choosing the right approach to align budgets with the SDGs.
The Asia-Pacific region has been leading the process of strengthening the Integrated National Financing Frameworks, or INFF, including some of the first SDG financing strategies. Since 2015, many countries in the region have implemented Development Finance Assessments (DFAs), and several are working on their national financing strategies. INFFs have become even more relevant with the impact of COVID-19 and offer a useful framework to guide resource allocation and shape financing for recovery responses. Sharing experiences of these mechanisms is hence becoming essential to form a coherent context-specific approach in financing with the aim to achieving national priorities.
How then can INFFs be operationalised to move closer to the Sustainable Development Goals? For starters, reviewing how different types of resources can best contribute to the SDGs and formulating a financing strategy which charts a clear path to implementing specific measures in this direction. Further, public finance, generally controlled by governments and national parliaments, is an essential part of development financing. However, progress is uneven and has been obstructed by the common misconception that a country can only strengthen budget alignment if it has a mature performance-based budgeting system in place.
On the other hand, according to UNDP’s recent SDG Budgeting guidance, any country regardless of its budgeting system can take several steps that can help align the allocation of public resources with the national SDG priorities. It is imperative for these measures to be contextualised to the country. In addition to strengthening the budget alignment, other measures may be implemented such as monitoring expenditures against SDGs, strengthening impact assessment, or evaluation of the effectivity of the expenses against national SDG priorities. Moreover, there is a broader need for strengthening accountability mechanisms including enabling Parliaments to play a more active role when it comes to fiscal oversight in connection with national priorities and SDGs, to pro-actively influence budget formulation where national budgeting processes allow so and to held Governments accountable by requesting evaluations.
The main target audience for this training are INFF focal points and practitioners from Asia-Pacific countries including representatives from Ministries of Finance, Economy and other Ministries that may be actively involved in the INFF processes, interested delegates of the APFSD, Members of Parliament working on finance/budgeting issues, Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI), academia and other regional stakeholders including UN staff. The invitations to nominate participants are sent through UNRCOs and UNDP country offices, through official channels to ESCAP member States representatives, and through the APFIN for other relevant regional stakeholders.
The online workshop will be delivered over 3 half-days and will dedicate the first day to a deep dive into the INFF building block on integrated financing strategies, including country cases and practical experiences based on DFA findings. SDG finance strategies and SDG budgeting, having been identified as the first two priorities from recent INFF consultations with the countries, will be the central tenets of this training. The UN partners plan to offer subsequent training opportunities on other INFF aspects.
The proposed training workshop will be held on 29-31 March 2021 back-to-back to the 2021 Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) and will also provide space for connecting to recommendations from its Roundtables, and especially the Roundtable on SDG 17.