- The current global situation poses enormous challenges to development agencies.
- Non-state and state actors must work together in order to achieve the SDGs.
- Humanitarian organisations must foster partnerships and agility to thrive within an increasingly complex environment.
The Swiss Agency for Development and CooperationLike other development agencies, (SDC) currently operates in a multicrisis environment, with emergencies ranging between COVID-19 to the increased fragility due long-lasting and new conflict, as well the negative effects of climate change.
International cooperation actors are intended to operate in fragile environments. However, the scale of the current problems seems overwhelming. COVID-19 has impacted all countries, but developing countries have been most severely affected by its social, economic, health, and humanitarian impacts. There is also an increase in extreme poverty, as well as increased economic and gender inequality.
The UNThe world is now facing the greatest number of conflicts since 1945. The geopolitical environment has been crucial for humanitarian and development actors. Globalization and digitalization have made it easier for conflicts and crises to quickly spread across borders, and can have multiple and simultaneous spillover effects. Last but not least, the growing energy and food costs combined with the climate crises is fueling debate about how to make the energy transition.
International cooperation is essential in this context. However, the organizations involved cannot meet the global challenges alone. Resources available to developing countries – domestic, international, public and private – remain under major stress. According to the OECD, the annual Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) financing gap in developing countries has increased from $2.5 trillion to $4.2 trillion as a result of the pandemic. This is without considering the devastating effect that the Ukraine war has already had on energy prices, food security, and stability in a large number of countries. To ensure that the 2030 Agenda does not fail, it will require a substantial increase in resources beyond official development aid. This raises questions regarding how development agencies can mobilize support to alleviate or prevent growing poverty levels.
Common goals for common good
Despite the grim outlook it is important not to forget that the 2030 Agenda was adopted and committed to by the international community. The adoption of the 17 SDGs in the 2030 Agenda2015 was a paradigm shift. It provided guidelines and, more importantly it reflected a shared understanding between the global North-South on how to address universal challenges.
Despite losing ground during the pandemics state and nonstate actors still recognize the importance of working together. Beside states’ mobilization, non-state actors play a key role in achieving the SDGs. We see an increase in the involvement of civil society, the financial and private sector, foundations, and international organizations around the world. They are actively involved in the search for innovative solutions to reach these goals. They are fully acknowledged by SDG 17: “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”
Partnership is the key word. Without cooperation between state and non-state actors, the SDGs won’t be realized. Each should leverage their strengths to enhance their impact. It is the responsibility of state actors to create the right frameworks. They are expected ensure that policies are inclusive, and work according to the law. The Leave No One Behind principle. This is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda and is crucial to ensure equitable development and foster societies’ resilience.
Innovating in times of crisis
Therefore, development agencies must be more flexible and engage in multiple partnerships to meet the challenge of global problems. Although funding is crucial for the SDGs can’t be understated, it doesn’t solve all problems. To achieve success in the most challenging contexts and face global challenges, donors, multilateral organizations, and other stakeholders must listen to each other and work together. Collaboration must be purpose-driven. Sustainable development requires new mindsets and perspectives from all parties.
Switzerland has a long history of engaging with bilateral and multilateral partners to have this conversation. This helps strengthen collective global security, effective multilateralism, consolidate global partnerships, and reinforce purpose-driven action.
The first meeting was an example of how to face complex challenges in a new way. International Cooperation Forum SwitzerlandGeneva, 31 March- 1 April. With the motto “together different”, the IC Forum assembled young people, experts from academia, the private and financial sector and international cooperation organizations. A group of people who would not normally meet found innovative ways to address the urgent needs to address climate change.
Global consequences often follow from conflict or fragility in one nation. This is evident in the COVID-19 epidemic, many climate emergencies, and the war in Ukraine with its resulting refugee crisis. These crises have the potential to cause severe damage in regions that have been affected by conflict.
While urgent assistance is necessary in severe crises, it is vital that public-private partnerships are supported. However, long-term investments are needed to help affected communities recover.
The World Economic Forum works with partners to find and scale solutions for fragile areas of the world. The Initiative for Humanitarian and Resilience InvestingIt aims to unlock private capital, so that it can be used to finance sustainable opportunities that benefit vulnerable people. The Global Future Council on the New Agenda For Fragility And ResilienceProvides guidance to humanitarian and developmental actors as well the private sector to improve support for local actors and facilitate responses that increase community resilience.
To learn more about these initiatives and to get involved in them, click here Get in touch.
In this “age of multiple crisis”, development agencies remain relevant, as long as they think out of the box, innovate and adapt to new challenges. The key is to create stronger networks, stay agile, and aim for greater impact.
Patricia Danzi, Director-General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
This article is written by the author only and does not reflect the views of the World Economic Forum.