UN General Assembly: Int’l financial architecture ‘out of sync’ with developing countries’ SDG needs – Pres Ali

For developing countries to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 timeline, President Dr Irfaan Ali highlighted the need for greater finances as he drew attention to the failure of the international community to deliver on these commitments.
This was the stance of President Dr Irfaan Ali during his address at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday.
According to the recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report, the gap in financing to achieve four critical SDGs for Latin America and the Caribbean including access to water and sanitation, energy, building infrastructure to promote sustainable industrialisation, innovation, and making cities sustainable requires US$2.2 billion.

President Irfaan Ali at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on Monday

“The increased cost of financing, rising debt to GDP, and unsustainable balance sheets have placed the developing world in a precarious situation,” Ali contended.
The GDP ratio in the LAC Region in 2022 was 117 per cent and inflation stood at 9.2 per cent. While Guyana’s expanded economy has allowed it to flourish and inject resources into key sectors such as health and education, it is not enough to achieve the SDGs.
“This is the situation of just one region in the world. Guyana’s expansion of our economy has allowed us to focus heavily on the SDGs. For example, investment per capita in health has increased by 62 per cent, in education by 64 per cent, and security by 153 per cent over a three-year period. But national commitment alone will not be alone to achieve the SDGs, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.”
A major part of the problem, according to the Guyanese leader, has been a lack of progress on Goal 17, which speaks to revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development. He identified that there has been a failure on the part of the international community to deliver on its commitments.
“International financial commitments, be it the 0.7 of the Gross National Product for ODA – a commitment made 50 years ago, or the $100 billion annual commitment under the Paris Agreement to developing countries among others, have not been met. Additionally, our international financial architecture is out of sync with the needs of developing countries and must be reformed.”
Ali drew attention to statistics that show developing countries are faced with higher food inflation – some five per cent greater than the rest of the world. To compound this, the average interest on external borrowing is three times higher than that of developed nations.
“We will not have a world where everyone everywhere enjoys their full human rights, peace, and security and is free from poverty and hunger unless the right to development is realised and respected. Guyana believes that significant progress can only be made in achieving the SDGs if national efforts are matched by commitments being fulfilled, and if an international environment is created that fosters progress for all.”
Critical to this is action on the Bridgetown Initiative, liquidity support, debt sustainability, development funding, and governance reforms of international financial institutions.
In July, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh committed that in addition to the way Guyana has woven national development into successive budgets, more work will be done to improve essential infrastructure and public services.
Dr Singh used the occasion to push for affordable financing for Guyana, noting that this means a redoubled global commitment. Notwithstanding these financial constraints, however, he made it clear that Guyana has made progress on the SDGs. According to Singh, the Government has invested in infrastructure to deliver water to over 30,000 residents in the hinterland. As such, the proportion of the hinterland with access to safe water has gone from 33.8 per cent in 2019 to 75 per cent as of the end of 2022.
Removed value-added tax on water charges and reduced water tariffs across the board are also benefitting over 175,000 customers
In addition, work has started on 300 MW of new power generation capability, harnessing Guyana’s newfound gas resources. This will allow for a 50 per cent reduction in electricity costs to the population by 2025.
When it comes to Goal 11, which deals with sustainable cities and communities, Dr Singh spoke of the Government’s accelerated drive to distribute 50,000 house lots by 2025. He said that within recent years, over 24,000 house lots have been distributed, primarily to low- and middle-income households. (G-12)