The UN’s seventh biennial Development Cooperation Forum took place from 6-7 May 2021, with a focus on development cooperation for the Decade of Action on the SDGs. The DCF aims to provide an inclusive global platform for all Member States and other stakeholders to have a voice in international development cooperation, according to remarks by Liu Zhenmin, head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
The DCF meets every two years, convened by the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The previous DCF took place in 2018. Discussions at that meeting stressed the need for a “swifter pace” for SDG implementation, inclusion of gender equality and youth inclusion in development cooperation, and strengthened capacities and institutions for development cooperation at all levels. The DCF was next scheduled to convene in 2020 but was deferred to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Going forward, the DCF aims to provide evidence on innovative policies and practices.
The 2021 DCF addressed advancing international cooperation for development in ways that reduce risk, enable recovery from impacts of COVID-19, and build resilience for the future.
In his opening statement, ECOSOC President Munir Akram called intensifying international development cooperation in four areas: making COVID-19 vaccines widely available, including by waiving intellectual property rights on the vaccine to enable broader production on development countries; strengthening financing for sustainable development, including through debt suspension, longer concessional financing, and fulfilling climate finance pledges by developed countries; investing in sustainable infrastructure – which he said will affect 92% of the SDGs – potentially by making the UN’s SDG Investment Fair a permanent mechanism; and building economic capacity in developing countries, including through rapid digitalization.
Background materials for the Forum note that governments and other actors have been transitioning to policies and practices that build the resilience of economies, societies, and ecosystems alike. The ongoing “stress-test” of the pandemic shows the durability of development cooperation, but now governments and stakeholders must “fully reimagine” such cooperation in a way that is informed by risk, designed to build resilience, and strongly linked with climate action.
Going forward, Liu said that the Forum aims to support sustainable, inclusive, and resilient recovery from COVID-19 by:
- Generating concrete policy guidance for the COVID-19 recovery period;
- Lending strategic direction to the Decade of Action for the SDGs, strengthening the follow-up processes on financing for development (FfD) and the 2030 Agenda,
- Documenting evidence on innovative policies and practices; and
- Organizing symposia to foster collaboration among actors.
Within 2021 the UN plans to conduct a DCF survey to gauge how well development cooperation is aligned with the needs of developing countries, as well as the risk landscape.