India has made significant progress in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by UN member-states in 2015 but finances remain an issue, a study of the country’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) submitted earlier this year indicates….writes Lenin Babu
India has said that despite its significant efforts toward mobilising domestic resources, it is unlikely to gather sufficient revenues for achieving the SDGs. Availability of finances would be a key determining factor for attaining SDGs. In this context, taking benefit of the dynamic relations between the SDGs, the developing countries can harness other financial sources such as climate finances.
A review of the VNRs of Bangladesh and Nepal also indicates significant progress being made in achieving the SDGs, but here too, inadequacy of finances appears to be a limiting factor. Bangladesh has indicated it may require around $1.5 trillion worth of additional resources to fully implement SDGs. Nepal, with an annual budget of $9,990 million in 2016-17, has clearly expressed its limitations in meeting the SDG targets.
The decreasing flow of Overseas Development Aid (ODA), including grants, loans and technical assistance, from 85.7 percent of the 1999/2000 commitments to only 55.4 percent in 2014-15, contributed to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2014-15 and is, therefore, grossly inadequate for meeting the SDGs.
The nature of the SDGs was evolved in such a manner that the advancement of one goal may lead to progress in other goals as well.
For instance, Goal 2 — end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture — will have a direct bearing on Goal 3 — ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. Therefore, financial commitments by the developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), through institutions like the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and the latest Green Climate Fund (GEF) can offer some solace.
In July 2017, India nominated the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as the National Implementing Entity for the overall project monitoring and implementation of multilateral climate change funding. NABARD, as the name suggests, is active in bringing transformation in climate-sensitive farm-based economic sectors.
Shifting away from traditional agencies of funding and by opting for such an action-research organisation, India has paved the way for successful pathways for convergence with the SDGs of measures to cope with climate change.
Jump-starting its function, NABARD has already facilitated the implementation of a project on resilience in vulnerable tribal areas of Odisha with a $31.63 million outlay funded by the Global Carbon Fund. Though the proposed action is envisaged to reduce vulnerability and mitigate the emission of green house gases, it will help in achieving several SDGs.
It would thus be ideal for all South Asian and other developing countries to plan such a convergence of programmes relating to climate change with the SDGs.